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  • Writer's pictureMollye Miller

Why I take photos

by Mollye for Justice Gray

for Justice Gray's project "headshots" - portraits of photographers + handwritten letter series

Justice Gray, an ultra-talented Baltimore photojournalist, photographed me last October for his project “headshots” where he takes portraits of photographers using their camera and asks them for a handwritten letter answering: “Why do you take photos?”

Check out his series of me here and my handwritten letter (and typed for easier reading here).

Note from Justice: “The third installment of this series features @mollyemillerphotography. We shot this on a cold day last October at Penn Station.

I love Mollye's eye for portraiture and it was a please to be able to return the favor and shoot her for this project. This was also one of the few times I've shot a digital Nikon camera and I think we did pretty good.

Thank you Mollye 🤞🏽 Be sure to swipe through to read her letter on why she takes photos.”

I take photos because I miss the world already.

I take photos because the world sees me and I want it to know I see it too: a woman’s boredom at the bus stop; birds resting on a telephone wire; a little boy’s manic joy as he runs through a park.

Photos are like teeth. You can look at teeth from four thousand years ago and say “her diet was mainly fish” or “he crushed seeds and small bones.” We can study photos and say, oh that is how this person experienced this particular afternoon in New Orleans in 1943 or this is how much this man loved his wife and kids in 1996.

I take photos because I’m dying. I take photos because we’re all dying and this is it.

I take photos because life is exciting and tragic and boring and beautiful and intoxicating. Photography is an answer to an ancient problem: why does this matter?

I could draw or paint if I’d decided to learn and grow those skills. I think I'm more interested in tracing reality.

I always remember my high school art teacher, Mr. Kuhlman, saying when you draw, imagine a tiny ant walking along the edge of the subject you're drawing. Just follow the ant and don’t think about what you’re trying to draw. In photography, I am the ant. I make up what I see by seeing it.

-Mollye Miller

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