then / now by jami milne

throw•back. noun. a reversion to an earlier ancestral characteristic: a person or thing having the characteristics of a former time.


STELLA by jami milne

Reflecting on the years spent with this beautiful young woman who graduates today. Thank you for being a part of our family. Thank you for holding Margaux as a baby, swaddling her to sleep. Thank you for encouraging Finn's imagination when we were away. Thank you for the walks, the swims, the laughter and the love. We can't wait to watch you continue to move mountains in your next chapter. 

TO YAYOI by jami milne

Perhaps much like you found solace and inspiration in the success of Georgia O'Keefe, here's my ode to you, Yayoi. Here's my homage to part creative | part crazy. Every dot, a representation of a new idea, a new cause, a lost cause, a lost love. A found love. For the love of art. Every circle another success and another failure. Here's to feeling on top of the world. Here's to feeling hidden. Here's to hiding on purpose. Here's to being on the top of your game and here's to feeling you've got no skin in the game. Here's to being a woman. Here's to feeling passed over. Here's to being found. Here's to making work others will steal. Here's to selling out. Here's to lines that prove age and wisdom. Here's to clarity. Here's to you, Yayoi. 


If that title comes off too strong, you're probably not my audience for this post. That's not to say you won't read it, but it is to say that you already get it.

My son goes to an elementary school that teaches Cognitive Guided Instruction. CGI in this instance, refers to a child's intuitive approach to problem solving. I first became familiar with this methodology when my son shared with me his math worksheets in which he was drawing bags of apples in order to multiple how many he had in total. 

I was thinking about this ability to problem solve through visualization as I was placing 164 balloons within the Des Moines Social Club last night. Perhaps part of our problem, as a society of adults, is that we've forgotten how to problem solve through visualization. To those who don't get it, let me help you see:


Are you a mother? Is your wife or partner? There's a funny thing that happens when you became one. You sway. You hold your baby in the safety of your arms, and you sway. Back and forth, in what may have started as a move to a lullaby, but forever remains long after the music is gone. You never stop swaying once you start.

The first balloon swayed when placed. I visualized a mother, that never again gets to hold her baby, never again gets to sway. Did you know 20 six year olds were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012? Twenty mothers who swayed now stand still. Twenty six year olds, twenty tiny bodies, were shot between three and eleven times each. Can you visualize that?

Can you still tell me we don't need stricter gun laws?

The interesting thing about balloons is they exhibit anthropomorphic qualities, much like that sway. When they're held within a bag, if the bag is not too heavy, they begin to float away, almost ghost-like. The ribbons attached to keep them from floating away is made to curl, not unlike how my daughter wraps her tiny hands around my finger, since she has since birth. Some balloons, for seemingly no reason, lean on one another, even though 162 of them stand still. 


Will this installation save one more child or teacher from being gunned down in the safety of a school? No. Will this installation change our gun laws? No. Could our Republican representatives? Yes.

Call your representatives. Write more letters. Show up in ways that are right for you. And don't stop visualizing positive change. 

The answer comes when we consider what pressure is will be installed through March 18 in Viaduct Gallery at the Des Moines Social Club. An artist talk will be held alongside Nancy Gebhart, Curator of ReAct Gallery on March 8 at 7PM.



Witching Hour 2017 by jami milne

The Creative Confessional, presented in partnership with the Iowa City Downtown District and Witching Hour, was a free public portrait booth and exercise in creative intimacy.

I had originally intended to share the parting thoughts I'd asked participants to write before leaving the booth. But they were too personal. Too thoughtful. Too honest and open and intimate. I hold space for those thoughts just as I held space for those beautiful souls brave enough to sit across from me and open up to a stranger. To each and every one of you, thank you for sharing that space with me. I believe in you and your light. 

You can find a description of the Witching Hour portrait booth below. And you can find the body of work that ranged from daylight to evening and lighthearted to longing, here


Enter the booth, share your confession and have a beautiful portrait taken of you, dear creative soul.

Tell Jami, a photographer with a few creative sins of her own, about that poem you never published. The business or community project you keep thinking about starting? The person you never followed up with. The art supplies you bought but haven’t touched. The song in your heart you still need to sing out. The time you didn’t dance and wished you had.

Confess the creative endeavor you never followed through with or the idea that never came to fruition. The Creative Confessional will allow you to speak it into existence… or finally let it free.

Look for the booth in the Iowa City Ped Mall during Witching Hour 2017, Friday October 20 and Saturday, October 21. 

How do you feel? Life's Leading Ladies via dsm Magazine by jami milne

Sometimes you create and let it go — "ship it," as my husband says, and you have to know that it will end up in good hands. You have to believe that what you made will be understood. This is a scary proposition as an artist... for multiple reasons. Sometimes you don't want to be understood. Sometimes you need it to remain unknown. But sometimes you create because you know it is your responsibility to tell a story for others to understand. 

Christine Riccelli gets it.

In the Editor's Note of the July/August 2017 issue of dsm Magazine, she asks the question "How do you feel about the cover?" But her follow-up statement is just as important. "I'm not asking what you think about it, but how you feel."

These women made me feel. On a rainy Saturday, we met to find out that instead of shooting on the main stage, we were in the basement theatre. The group shot I planned couldn't exist as I needed it to. The concept I had in mind had to be scrapped. Our collective nerves were as high as the energy. 

But these women made me feel

And as Ken-Matt Martin, Pyramid Theatre Company's co-founder and executive director describes, these are the "kind of who are born to do what they want to do."

Shooting with them that rainy Saturday, they gave me their attention their attention and their presence. They gave me hope. They gave me more than what I can properly express, in words or photographs.

It is my absolutely hope, that what I created, is understood in a way that realizes the rightful place these women deserve as leading ladies — both on the stage and off. Full story here



STILL I RISE by jami milne

I took this photo of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a marble sculpture of Nike (the Greek goddess of victory) in Paris this past January. 

It struck an emotional chord and continues to haunt me. Not only is it the fact that it sits in an atrium within a wing of the Louvre but it embodies both strength and vulnerability, both fight and flight. 

When I was asked to create a limited edition print for Adore Your Walls that was rooted in inspiration and motivation, I knew exactly what I wanted to create. 

The Instagram Sale goes through 9PM CST tonight. If you're at all moved by it, I'd love for her to find a home in yours. 

Details here.

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. 


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 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


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


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.