Jake Harrison Miller began photography in 2016 after losing his inspiration as a film-maker. He found that the production process and inherent artifice removed emotion from the stories he sought to tell. After the failed production of a short film, a friend handed Miller a 35mm film camera, which he took to the streets with, capturing images of anything he found interesting. Upon viewing the negatives of his first rolls of film, Miller saw how he could express both his visual interests and the truth he witnessed around him. He is now working to illustrate his perception and experience of growing up in Knoxville, TN. His aims are to develop a body of work that honors both his emotional attachment to the South East, as well as the realities beyond his reach.
I’m Right Here
I have been taking photos of Knoxville since I began practicing photography in 2016. I believe at that time I was only halfheartedly trying to explore the true nature of what this place is to me, who the people are that populate it, and ultimately how growing up here shaped who I am and my perception of the world. I wasn’t able to see these things clearly until traveling the whole of the United States during a dream-come-true road trip. I was disillusioned by the end of it; every city was just like the next one, everyone has the same dreams in these cities, everyone outside of that dream rots away as some societal byproduct, and they stand outside pointing their fingers in blame to those who have destroyed their town, their land. In this way, I saw Knoxville as being just another failed dream of America; as not unique, but a fragment of every other city. I knew if I was to capture the town and the people in any honest manner, it had to be through my personal perspective of what it’s like to live here. I needed to be out in the city with everyone else and reach out to them. I needed to see them not for what or who they are, but who they are to me, and hopefully, convey what they mean to me. Empathy is both my strength and my weakness; I have such pain for other people’s suffering, and through it I am able to connect to so many different types of people and try to understand them, but I loathe my own existential concerns as being nothing more than escapist rhetoric aimed at poeticizing ‘reality.’ However, when I meet and interact with these strangers, with my neighbors, with my family, and I’m able to capture them, or aspects of them, I feel no greater purpose on this planet.
To view more of Jake Harrison Miller’s work please visit his website.