Dear Mama... This is how I see you now. by jami milne

Last weekend, The New York Times published an article called Our Mothers as We Never Saw Them. It was a beautiful essay describing how often times, seeing photos of our mothers before having children provides a snapshot into a personality we never knew. A carefree, life before firstborns, unbridled with responsibility, bursting with character and endless possibilities, kinda life.

It was a beautiful essay, but it's not the story I know. While I do recall seeing a picture of my cute teenage mother in a bikini standing by the kitchen sink at some point in my life, boxes of vintage-colored square photographs with the date in the corner don't exist. Instead, pictures of a young mother holding a little blonde baby came sooner than expected. Endless possibilities became endless diaper changes. Unbridled opportunities became a young mother to three and then six and then grandmother to thirteen. 

While I know it doesn't make up for the lost time as a young woman in early eighties snapshots, thank you for trusting me to capture you as I see you now: strong, beautiful, bursting with character and endless possibilities.

MS. LANG by jami milne

Every now and then, on a seventeen degree day on a Tuesday in March, you have the opportunity to share space with your best friend, intermixed in the sunshine and the shadows. Thank you for the many ways you let me create with you, Ms. Lang.

Ballet Des Moines for dsm Magazine by jami milne

I was honored last night to have one of my photographs chosen as the March/April cover of dsm Magazine — an opportunity only bestowed to an artist six times a year. It is amazing not only because of the ability to share my work in one of the most beautiful formats our city has to offer, but as I was thinking about it a bit more, because of the following:

1. As mentioned last night and in the story, I can't swim.* And spending hours being held underwater to try and get the shot was terrifying in the most thrilling way possible. Thank you to my water muses Brooks and Mae. And to my IRL life saver, Amy.

2. My dad always had "On the Cover of The 'Rolling Stone'" by Dr. Hook playing when I was a kid. And somehow, standing up on that stage in a packed hotel lobby to unveil that cover, felt like my Rolling Stone.** Thanks for all those years of motivation, Dad. I'm gonna go get five copies for my mother, but will send some your way, too. 

3. Hali was just one of the nine dancers I photographed during my residency, and I am one of three artists Ballet Des Moines welcomed into their studio this season. Please continue to support the arts. Buy a subscription to your favorite magazine or newspaper. Buy tickets to the ballet. Or contact me about purchasing a print (half of all sales of my ballet work goes back to Ballet Des Moines).

If you hadn't seen the underwater work I did with Hali Hutchison, during my residency, you can catch a glimpse below. A giant thank you to dsm, BDM and ABM. And thank you, Christine and Annabel for believing in my work and gasping alongside me at all the right moments.

*A shout out to Lisa Braden and the Urbandale Public Pool for the "opportunity" to take adult swim lessons last month. You guys: I can float! Treading water still TBD.

**It should be noted by anyone that knows this song, my experience couldn't be any more unlike these lyrics. I would perhaps instead put myself more along the lyrical lines of "Everybody's Making It Big But Me" and at the same age as Lucy Jordan. 

LAYERS: THE STUDENTS OF URBAN LEADERSHIP by jami milne

When I set out to concept the Urban Leadership shoot this year, I dug deep. Through bright highlights and dark secrets. Through laughter and pain. Through 37 years of layers that make up who I am today — a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter. An artist and creator. I'm brave and I'm scared. I'm hopeful and I'm hurt. I cry tears of pure joy and absolute sadness, often at the same time. I have emotions woven so deeply into the thread of my being that I can't shake them if I tried. And I've tried.

The portraits this year, reflect that emotionally woven tapestry in all of us. I see young brave men and women. I see contemplative and hopeful poets. I see uncertain and strong artists. I see layers of life too complicated for most to understand. I see vibrant color and I see iconic black and white.

I am proud of this work. But more so, I am proud to add another layer of having shared space with these beautiful souls. Thank you Emily Lang and Kristopher Rollins for your unending vision to the youth, to our community, and for believing in me. And to the students of Urban Leadership: thank you for your vulnerability. And thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable with you. I believe in you.

The world is in a strange place. Find people and movements to believe in and show up for them. Please consider showing up for these students this Saturday at the RunDSM Community Showcase. It is both free and life changing.

To see the full body of work, click here.

Seeking contact with any station (CQ) by jami milne

This collection was created specifically for the entrepreneurial and inventive spirit found within Gravitate.

In this three-part series, famous works of art are combined with morse code messages, creating not only new pieces of creative, but a new way in which to view the artwork.

So often, we view works of art and move on, particularly in today’s climate of constantly curating new content at greater speeds. In Seeking contact with any station (CQ)a somewhat common phrase used in morse code when trying to locate someone to listen, I wanted to create a body of work that required the viewer to participate with greater intent – viewing nuances of the original work while decoding the message it comes with. My hope is that it forces you to stop and solve for it, perhaps search for more about it afterward — creating a new relationship with something you may have viewed more flippantly previously.

The body of work is split into three sections:

– The first four use the morse code audio sounds with a message that plays off the original artwork title (some of my favorite masterpieces).

– The second set of four uses morse code dots and dashes to state the title of the original artwork (lesser known works of art).

– The last set has blocks of the original artwork showing through, while a phrase to describe the artwork can be found in the dots and dashes (these are easy ones + you should be a pro by now). 

For help decoding the work, visit http://morsecode.scphillips.com for a comprehensive alphabet listing.

Framed 8x10 prints can be purchased at Gravitate for $150. For inquiries regarding unframed prints, shoot me a note at [email protected]

 

Fight Like a Girl by jami milne

Today I learned this incredible woman earned her official certification through the United States Fencing Coaches Association, making her an accredited fencing coach. I had the honor of photographing her early last year. Congratulations, Melanie. Thank you for being an example to all of us that we can and should fight like a girl today, tomorrow, and always. 

A R T & S O U L by jami milne

Maddie.

The more you keep creating, the more you get to create. What began as a beautiful request from a friend to speak in her high school International Baccalaureate arts class, turned into a project of capturing young men and women at the wheel.

Each photograph is my favorite. As I'd watch each student sit down to create, my heart would swell. Each moment was unique to the artist. Each spin of the wheel and turn of the clay providing me an authentic opportunity to create alongside them.

At a time when we're consumed with all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, I am honored to have been a partner supporting the Arts. And I am hopeful our community will also see the value in creating a space for these young artists to continue to create. In a world of seemingly unending chaos, it feels so comforting to provide spaces full of safety, love and inspiration.  

Thank you for trusting me with your students, Dara Green. And a very heartfelt thank you to Stella Murphy, for having the courage to ask me to come speak and share to you and your peers. You helped me make sense of what I'm trying to do with my life and for that I am grateful.  

See the full set of images here

E L L A by jami milne

I've started and restarted this blog post too many times to count. I keep trying to come up with the right words to describe this beautiful young dancer. And as it turns out, she needs no words.

Veterans Day by jami milne

I took this picture at Principal Park on Memorial Day 2016. I don't know this man, but I am thankful. To those I know serving: thank you. To those I know who have served, including my baby brother: thank you. To those I don't know, like this gentleman: thank you. 

Knowing what you're good at by jami milne

Navigating life never ends. You simply keep going. Sometimes the road is straight. Sometimes bumpy. Sometimes it winds beautiful and sometimes it turns abruptly.

I've learned a lot about myself this past year, but particularly taking note at what I'm good at. What I'm proud to say I'm good at.

Photographing Hannah was one of those endeavors. I didn't know my artistic career would take me here. But I was so lucky I was asked if I'd consider taking these photos. I was lucky to have stumbled across paths with Hannah and I continue to marvel at how incredible she is every time I look back through these images.

I didn't know I was good at taking photographs like this — that I could capture dancers in this very personal way. But I pray, Hannah knows with her whole heart, what she's good at. Because she is good at this.

BY LAND OR BY SEA by jami milne

“SENSE OF PLACE IS THE SIXTH SENSE, AN INTERNAL COMPASS AND MAP MADE BY MEMORY AND SPATIAL PERCEPTION TOGETHER."

My head has been swimming around this shoot. For all the obvious reasons but for all the deep down hidden ones, too. It's too obvious to talk about my fear of water. But the water has been calling to me since Austin. And when I had the opportunity to create a story with Mae, I dove in head first.

I am honored to have shared these waters with you, Mae. And I am grateful to you, Amy, for trusting me to tell this beautiful story, lifting me up by holding me down. 

Mae: as you're heading into your senior year, I hope you forever feel a sense of place wherever life takes you. And may you always let your internal compass guide you, by land or by sea.

“I talked about places, about the ways that we often talk about love of place, by which we mean our love for places, but seldom of how the places love us back, of what they give us. They give us continuity, something to return to, and offer a familiarity that allows some portion of our lives to remain connected and coherent."  

*The outtakes. The first takes. And as I often refer to them, the best takes. A giant thank you to the entire Murphy family who helped make three days of shooting three amazing underwater tales, three of my best days. 

*All quotes by Rebecca Solnit.

IMPOSSIBLE is NOTHING by jami milne

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

History attributes this quote to Muhammad Ali. And while his words are powerful, nothing compares to the words this young man can spit. Meet Russhaun Johnson. This young man started college today. And in doing so, made a declaration. Impossible... is nothing.