Hi! My name is Tasha Joy Miller.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an investigator. I walked around the forest. I looked for things and listened to sounds. Sometimes, I picked up snakes and pet them. But I was scared most of the time. Of people. Sometimes of the people in my own home. So I finally let go of that career idea. I thought that being an investigator might be a scary job.
I have been diagnosed with Bipolar II, severe OCD and trichotillomania (hair pulling levels of anxiety). My mental health is supported and closely monitored. I have three therapists (individual counseling, dialectical behavioral therapy group, couples therapy) and a psychiatrist. (I’m on my 5th psychiatrist.) I’ve called 911 on myself and have visited extensively with folks on the mental health crisis line…more than once. I take two medications (Lamictal and Zoloft) with an anti-psychotic waiting in the wings, need be. (Oh. Were you thinking about hiring me to take photos of your children? Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.)
I make songs about people and photographs of people. Maybe I’m facing my greatest fears? And I sing. Like a loud bird. From my heart and soul. Kids dress up as me on Halloween: Wearing a bathrobe and holding a coffee cup, hair in a top knot, glasses. Some people say I’m famous and it makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel like fame is super weird. I feel everything.
When writing a song, I start with curiosity. Add words. Then chords/piano.
When making photographs, I start with curiosity. Then a human being. We interact. I watch the facial muscles change from one moment to the next. I’m totally stalking you: Let’s be honest. I see your comfortable moments. Your small shavings of freedom. Aha! I click the shutter, but no rapid fire…because film is expensive. I see your uncomfortable segments of time. How ARE you feeling? What are those thoughts? How am I a part of this equation? Am I lifting you or holding you down? How can I adjust this moment? A portrait photographer has a very psychologically intimate space in a subject’s life.
I am a seeker, but everyone needs a space bubble. Even if for just a few minutes. It’s in your eyes and on your lips. The lens may be disturbing the potential for authenticity, so I make it about us. Our conversation. The story. The life. I put the lens down for a minute if need be (pretend I’m fixing something on the camera). The reactions to what I say or don’t say are priceless. Watching facial muscles…I know when you’re free. I avoid wasting precious film on moments of half truth or no truth. The split seconds that emote from your insides…And land in your eyes. Is why I am there. I love those split seconds. I hold a Nikon F100 loaded with a single roll of 35mm Ilford Delta or Portra 400. It’s my vehicle for seeking truth in human beings.
Maybe I am an investigator after all.
DISCLAIMER: After the image has been developed and processed, there is no post production. No computer or software. What I saw [in you] during that entire split second is what you may see in yourself for generations. If you’re not ok with your wrinkles or you call your beauty “blemished,” don’t hire me. If you are intrigued by the moment of truth and curious to see what it looks like, I’m your girl! I’ll find your beauty. I’ll see your love. I promise.
To enlarge a song, I hire really amazing people to record, mix and master. Then I load it into outer space and sing it in listening rooms around town. I hope to make films someday.
To enlarge a photograph, I hire highly selected humans who hang out in a North Portland dark room for a living. It’s one of my favorite places: Blue Moon Camera & Machine. The owner/creator is Jake Shivery. Blue Moon is a home. The people inside take my delicate and valuable pieces of your soul and make them become something we can hold… using water, a stop bath, fixer, an easel, pins, a timer, a glossy finish and a very VERY dark room. When the door is cracked open, you magically appear on fiber paper that was once blank. With museum grade framing techniques by Melanie Townsend at Mel’s Frame Shop in downtown Portland, your piece of art will last for generations to come.
Thank you for being here with me. Each and every one of us [every single moment] have the option not to be. This is life and the only thing we all [truly] know FOR CERTAIN is that we will die. But while we’re here, it’s fascinating to dissect life into split seconds and whole emotions.
If I can make a photograph sing and a song make time stand still, then I’m doing my job.
I am proud to be alive. I hope to meet you soon.