For many things in life, the adage “Quality or Quantity” holds true. However, these days the quantity of photographs being created, posted and shared on social media is quite overwhelming. If you have a phone with a lens, does that make you a photographer? Well, if you pull up any friends’ Facebook or Instagram page, there might be selfies, group shots, close-ups of a person’s Friday night delicacy, or that pair of super-rare tennis shoes.
Have you seen the new television commercial for the Google Pixel 3 phone, which showcases 30 seconds of very bad photography? It proves the point that having the proper lighting, the right white balance, all the right settings on a real camera, as opposed to a lens on the phone, is crucial to the perfect photograph. Some things need and should to be left to a professional. Well, let’s step behind that camera tripod and speak to a professional photographer extraordinaire and world traveler, Natrice Miller.
Natrice’s love of photography first began in high school. “I am a music junkie, so my first memories of photography came from album covers. Every time I received a new cassette or CD, I would read the liner notes to see who took the photos and look at the additional photographs.” Natrice explained. She went on to say that during her high school days Vibe XXL and The Source magazines were extremely popular, and she loved those pictures in those magazines, and this piqued her interest to learn the processes of the dark room.
The love for photography got real for Natrice once she entered college. Natrice, a Florida A & M University graduate, earned her degree in journalism. “I was studying journalism at FAMU, so photography ended up falling in my lap because it goes hand in hand with writing. I was shooting for my school’s magazine and photographing friends, and just taking photos of everything I could.” Natrice described. During her matriculation at FAMU, the world of photography was also growing up. “Digital print was still very new and expensive back in 2003-2004, so I was shooting all film, which really allowed me to think about composition and lighting because I had limited frames.” Natrice related. The parallels of photography changing, and evolving were right in line with Natrice, and her future behind the lens.
Her time at FAMU was now completed, and now it’s time for Natrice to put her degree to use, as she enters adulthood. Employment is now the goal, and now she wants to take the steps to become a full-time photographer. Natrice tells me about her first photography gig. “My official paid gig was in 2006, when I lived in Miami. The subject was an independent rapper that needed a mixtape cover. He didn’t want the stereotypical stuff; he gave me full creative freedom. He just wanted his grandmother’s house incorporated into a few of the shots, as she had recently passed, and she was the matriarch of the family. To this day, it is still one of my favorite shoots, as it taught me to stray away from your original ideas and switch it up, because you may end up shooting something much better.” Something much better for Natrice came in the form of the opportunities to travel the world and capture her moments on film.
Africa was the latest stamp that Natrice obtained for her passport. “Africa was an amazing experience for me. It was surreal to set foot in the Motherland. Traveling through Africa isn’t always easy because of the language barriers and cultural differences, but those are the very things that also created a lot of great memories and adventures. Before my trip to Africa, everyone kept telling me to be careful.” Natrice explained. “People have a certain fear when it comes to Africa because of what the media has portrayed for years. Africa is not a big jungle, with lions walking down the street; it’s more than a safari destination.” Natrice went on to say. “Like the States, they have skyscrapers, fine dining, and loads of culture. I loved the hustle and bustle in the cities and rural towns, so I found myself photographing a lot of the street scenes of people doing regular everyday things. You can see examples of her African excursion, and much more at www.natricemiller.com and on her blog at www.theculturedlens.com.
Natrice’s work behind the camera has afforded her the opportunity to travel all around the globe. This was her response when I asked about her top 3 locations she has traveled. “My top 3 locations that I have photographed are New Orleans, India, and Africa.” Natrice listed. “New Orleans is my favorite city, and I have been there about ten times.” Having traveled to various places across the world, I asked Natrice how does she prepare herself and her photography based on a certain location? “Respecting local culture is really important to me, so I always do a lot of research before I go international,” Natrice responded. “I like to learn a few key phrases, local customs, and if there are any known traditional dishes. If the country requires visas or shots, then I must research that process as well. And of course, I have to buy lots of new clothes that I never wear on the trip.” Natrice exclaimed.
The future is bright for Natrice and her photography. She expressed that her next set of destinations that she would like to photograph is Japan, Cuba, and Brazil. “I do a bit of travel manifesting. At the end of every year, I write down a list of 10 places I want to visit. Once it’s written down, it somehow floats into the atmosphere, and the travel gods give me great travel deals.” Natrice admonished. “I do most of my traveling with my husband. The two of us are just passionate about traveling and experiencing new cultures.”
What is Natrice’s secret to the perfect photo? “Perfect timing,” Natrice said. From honing her craft in high school and at FAMU, to becoming a globetrotter, Natrice Miller’s work behind the lens proves that her professional photography strives for quality over quantity. With all the photographic refuse we are exposed to on a daily basis, the works produced by Natrice is indeed perfect timing.