This month's Member Spotlight shines on:

                      Jillisa Hope Milner 

                                 (member since February 2016)

 

 

"For me, the point of photography isn’t to pin down a memory like a specimen bug on a board.  It’s about capturing something that can recreate a feeling—awe, wonder, loneliness, longing—again and again in the present moment. Because that’s what makes a photograph great: it makes us feel something every time we view it."

                                                                 Jillisa

                           

How long have you lived in the Golden Isles?
I moved from northern Virginia to Saint Simons Island at the end of 2014 when my husband got a job in the area. I love the slower pace of living here, the smell of the beach and the wind across the marsh grasses, and the fact that “traffic” here is a few cars waiting to go through a roundabout.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a smiling, coffee-swilling, wandering soul who supports her photography habit by working full-time as a writer and editor for the federal government.  I believe that photography can be an act of meditation: it requires us to pay attention to the present moment and see the achingly beautiful, interesting, wild, ugly, and amazing world around us.  The next frame will be different. Pay attention now. For me, the point of photography isn’t to pin down a memory like a specimen bug on a board.  It’s about capturing something that can recreate a feeling—awe, wonder, loneliness, longing—again and again in the present moment. Because that’s what makes a photograph great: it makes us feel something every time we view it.

How long have you had a "thing" for photography?
I remember taking endless snapshots with disposable cameras when I was a kid, but my interest in photography as an art form really grew in 2010.  My husband volunteered to work in Iraq for a year leading an advisory team for Iraq’s equivalent of the FBI. Since I needed a distraction while he was off dodging rockets and trying untangle the Gordian knot of war and politics, I quit my job, flew to Ireland, and rented a cottage in a tiny town where I didn’t know a soul.  My camera became a way for me to connect with the world around me and the wild swings of emotions I experienced there. Delight at sheep in a sunny paddock, the vulnerability of being alone and worrying about my husband in a war zone. For 3 months there and then 3 months in France, my camera was my constant companion.  And the next thing I knew, photography had become my “thing.” :)

What do you like to shoot?
I love travel and nature photography, and I especially love to capture the barrier islands of the east coast of the United States: from Chincoteague to Hatteras to Saint Simons Island, they all serve as a reminder of the pervasive and exquisite nature of change.

What are you working on at this time?  What's your next mountain to climb?
One of the things I love most about photography is there’s always more to learn.  Lately I’ve been playing with time-lapse photography and a couple of Lensbaby lenses.  It’s pushing me to see things differently and try new things.

What/Who has impacted your photography of late?
I’ve been gorging on books by the incredible photographer David du Chemin. His books help me think beyond the technical aspects photography and instead ask myself what I’m trying to say. I still don’t know the answer to that, but I know it has something to do with mystery and transience and awe.

Tell us about your photography business.
Last summer, I stumbled upon an arts festival here on Saint Simons.  As I wandered through the rows of tents, I started thinking how fun it would be to do something like that. After several months of “fun” researching tents and booth design and canvas vendors and pricing and payment systems and details like bags and tags and rugs and receipts, I applied for and was accepted to do my first booth in December 2015. I’ve never been more terrified.  Having my husband in a war zone was nothing compared to putting my photos up for the public to see and hopefully buy. But no one laughed me out of town, and in fact people did buy things, and then it really did become fun.  I absolutely love being out there talking with people all day and hearing or seeing them react to my images—it’s fascinating to witness what other people feel.

How did you find out about the GUILD?  What have you enjoyed most about the Guild?
I have absolutely loved meeting all of these great people who happen to also be photographers. I love the technical talks and learning so much from all of the other members, and I am grateful for information and opportunities to submit work to shows. The Big Photo Show this year was the first time I’ve ever had my work displayed in a gallery!! I’m looking forward to doing meet ups to explore new places and learn even more from this awesome group.

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