Saturday, September 26, 2009

My New Muse, Pt. 4 - Jessica

And introducing Muse 4 ...


If you don't know her, I think it's important for me to note that Jessica has an unmatched and unbridled enthusiasm for life. She is uniquely intelligent, undeniably likeable and has an edge like a soft kind of 80s song that never forgets it's rock. You might find her in that moment just before the drumline pounds in a Pat Benetar song - or nestled between satin sheets in a ballad by Berlin - or maybe even in that abruptly chaotic section of "Take on Me", you know the one I'm talking about. She's sharp and edgy, smooth but prepared to slice.

It's this sort of 80s tone that I wanted to convey in her photos - I wanted to show you her, as I see her.

More photos of Jessica are to come ...

And that's it! Stay tuned for some photos I found from my past, and maybe a few more of Jessica as I have time to edit.

My New Muse, Pt. 3 - Beth

Muse 3 - Beth

Not often can a person say they had a teacher for college one year and dressed her in outfits five ways from crazy in another. Then again, not often can a person say they've had a teacher as cool as Beth.

Beth is a little Clark Kent in that putting on and removing her glasses changes her look considerably. Before her, I might've thought such an idea was strange - it's not much of a disguise. But Beth can easily transform herself from a pretty, responsible, and studious bookworm to that sexy rocker chick who can throw her shit down and talk you into a hole. I can still remember the shock of the first time I visited her at home, fresh out of her class, and was greeted by a Busty Beth in a tight, dark stringed corset, wearing biker boots, and a choker.

It's this kind of flexibility that makes her easy to photograph in myriad poses and themes, many of which you'll see here.

At this point, it's strange for me to think of her as my former instructor, just because, for me, our friendship toward the tail-end of my college life was so close and important. At times raunchy and exposed and silly. At times very serious and caring and sensitive. It's when you know you can be anything and everything with a person that you've found a friend for life. I cherish every photo I took of this woman, because she is a cherished moment in my life. And while I'm sad that she was near me for what felt like only a moment, it's my hope that we have yet many cherished moments to come.

Stay tuned for when I announce my newest muse and see some photos of her already in the editing process.

Muse 4 - ... coming soon ...

My New Muse, Pt. 2 - Kelsey

Muse 2 - Kelsey ...

Kelsey has the great-natured patience and genuine interest important in making an excellent model. She is very compliant, will do pretty much whatever you ask no matter how silly it may seem, and, well, clearly she's beautiful.

She came into my life when my interest in photography was the most weighted, and grew the quickest - my trip abroad. Being in a different culture/country/world, you notice things others there might take for granted - and when you come back, you have a sort of appreciation for your surroundings you never realized before. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time abroad knows the feeling. It's almost more of a culture shock to come back than it is to go there.

Kelsey has an inspiring kind of beauty - something strange and unique and powerfully flexible. And she couples it perfectly with an unusual yet captivating sense of style that try as I might, can never catch on film.  She's got class, she's magnetic.  And when you're in her smile - you feel that, if even for a moment ... everything's OK. 

Keep checking as I count down my life's favorite muses, followed by a series of some totally vintage photos I dug up!

Muse 3 - Beth ... coming soon ... 

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My New Muse, Pt. 1 - Karen

Four score and seven years ago, I took photos for no other reason than because I wanted. Countless Kansan, CHALK, Dulcinea, SUA and Ogden shoots later, photography had become more of a business for me than a hobby - and this was not what I wanted. Walking the fine line between doing something you enjoy for work, and doing something for work you no longer enjoy can be something of a balancing act.

What made it more difficult was that, while I might've once enjoyed taking pictures of pretty landscapes, or insects or flowers, these photos just no longer interest me. I want emotions in my photos - I want relateability, a connection. I want to show you something beautiful you might have let go unnoticed before, something I think you should notice. 

Having said that, my life's three previous muses have exited stage left, or are no longer able to participate in photoshoots in the kind of capacity I sometimes demand.

Each of them suffered countless hours of my "tilt your head this way" and "smile with only one part of your mouth" and, "stoic, be stoic ... mmm not that stoic!"s. They let me squirt ketchup on them, apply artificial eyelashes, smear them with makeup and blow-dry hot air in their face to make it seem as though the studio had a gentle breeze that day.

But they always held their composure, stayed in character, and developed beautifully in the final product, something I could hold up and be proud.

Muse 1 - Karen. 
Karen had the unfortunate position of being the girlfriend and the model, which is never a smart combination. OK, so we were really more like best friends (see her in her prom gown below), but this woman and her family really encouraged me to take photos in a way that had never been encouraged, and as a result, Karen got stuck in more and more situations that demanded her to pose (and in some of these photos, she's posing as a victim of the Holocaust).The self-discovery that came with photography for me during that time in my life is immeasurable. I wasn't very technically good, and some of these photos are particularly embarrassing to share with you now, but isn't that the nature of art? A kind of vulnerability, something, that, at one point in your life, gave you great pride, and in another, reminded you of some primal-figure you might've scribbled as a child specifically to smack on the fridge. Was that art?

I'm sure that many of my favorite photos now will seem silly and young to me in ten years, but, unlike Vanilla Ice, I won't go scratching through my past, embarrassed of who I was, but rather, learning to become who I want to be.

Keep checking as I count down my life's favorite muses, followed by a series of some totally vintage photos I dug up!

Muse 2 - Kelsey ... coming soon ... 

Friday, September 04, 2009

Taylor Miller v. Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins

Health care reform is the first major issue in a long time to split the country without having anything to do with religion. It's probably the single greatest issue affecting this presidency, as it involves both the well-being and the wallet of the entire nation. It's also a serious issue, but one that has been diminished into a war of name-calling Jerry Springer antics that we, as Americans are so well-known for. While I do have certain opinions on health care reform - this post will be more concerned with the way Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins decided to spend 43 cents - so, prepare for only a few moments of my inner-Springer coming loose.

I'm not sure if Google localizes searches, but assuming they don't, this blog appears in the 9th position in a Google search for Taylor Miller, which, relative to the frequency of my name, is pretty damn good.

Running with this pseudo-celebrity, I'd like to take a moment to comment on the politics of Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, hoping Google will also place it high in its search results. I'd like to make a comment on Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins because calling her office to request exemption from her harrassments has led only to dead ends and more phone calls.

Having said that - to increase search engine optimization, I'm going to try as hard as I can to refrain from using pronouns when talking about Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, much like she, Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, does. (If you think her name is annoying by this point, you should hear her speak.)

I began receiving phone calls from the furious Kansas Congress-bot, Lynn Jenkins, almost immediately after her election to the 2nd Kansas District U.S. House of Representatives. Three or four calls in, I called the number back and was greeted with an answering machine inviting me to leave a message for Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, wherein I asked if, perhaps, she could stop contacting me because I was uninterested in her uninformative views on healthcare.

Today, the bitch sent me a mailing. In color. On cardstock. And so I blog.

As a graphic designer, I'm somewhat aware of what it costs to print thousands of mailings in color and cardstock, and it's not cheap.

Upon further review, I found that the mailing had the stones to tell me the following, if in fine print.

"This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense."

It then goes onto say that, never fear, the cost it took to prepare this piece, "is less than a postage stamp." But who doesn't complain about the cost of stamps!? There are tens of thousands of registered voters under this woman, and I can hardly afford a book of stamps! BUY ME STAMPS!

From another quick Google search, I found that in the 2008 election, there were 3,098 NEW registered voters in my county alone. I was going to use that number to impress you all with some fancy statistics on the copious amounts of OUR money that REPUBLICAN Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins just spent on a mailing that told us, well, really nothing (letter and reaction below), but I couldn't find the total number of registered Douglas Co. voters (help?).

In that frustrating Google search that failed on many ends, I typed in the following in a moment of desperation (we all do this):

"how many people voted in kansas i don't understand why that's so fucking hard to understand" ....

Interestingly enough, that prompted Google to bring up an article about Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. (Search it if you want, it talks about how Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins says the Republican Party is "struggling to find the great, white hope..." to quell Obama. I wish I were kidding, but that's not really the issue I'm addressing here).

THE ISSUE: The mailing that my tax dollars sent out, was to inform me that I should not be pleased that my tax dollars were being used on something pointless (which in her opinion is healthcare).


The irony! As you can see from this scan, the imagery of the mailing puts great emphasis on
juxtaposition. It shows how the Capitol building is pushing apart the family and their doctor, it uses different font colors to distinguish "your family" and "your doctor" being
separated - the mission is to show how Washington separates us from our doctors, right.

Fittingly enough, the only other thing that separates this poor family from their doctor is "the update ... from Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins". Does that mean that she, like Washington, is also keeping us apart? Is this a major design fail, a freudian slip on behalf of the Congresswoman, or is the graphic designer secretly a democrat who hates his boss, but is suffering through her crazy rants because he needs a job like everyone else to pay his taxes that is used on pointless crap like this??! *breathe*

Outside the stupidity of spending money to tell us not to spend money, I really don't understand what I'm supposed to do with the contents of this mailing, except to write a blog and call her out. What is she telling me to do, exactly? Outside of the letter, there are some random facts about what a healthcare system could do to Americans, and blames other countries with socialized health care systems for having lower survival rates when it comes to many diseases (I'm guessing excluding anything related to obesity or heart disease which is really the cornerstone for all American deaths?)

She doesn't offer any alternatives, outline what her party is doing to improve the issue or what we, as her constituents should be doing in our day-to-day lives to make the issue work for us. Instead, she opted for that space to go to photos of her (and bad ones at that) talking with Topeka doctors.

These photos don't say what the issues are that are being discussed, what specifically might be changed for each of these doctors (who could totally be disagreeing with her completely ...) Nope, only that she is "discussing issues affecting health care..."

Not that this is what is being proposed, but all these republicans seem so categorically opposed to socialized health care (even when private options are still and will always be available) and none of them can tell me why?

Apparently, our veterans use a socialized healthcare system, so, if it's so bad, why are we tossing our nation's defenders to the curb - that makes little sense, especially considering we HOPE they're the healthiest individuals in the country.

Maybe I'm biased because I actually have spent time in and USED the kind of health care being proposed. When I studied in Spain, I got really sick and needed immediate doctor attention - moments after arriving at the clinic (we had private insurance, like I do now), I was seen by a DOCTOR who treated my issue and prescribed me meds in a genuinely caring manner, answering any questions I had along the way.

Conversely, I cannot tell you how many times I've been in similar situations in the United States where I've had to wait many, many minutes or hours writhing in pain in a waiting room for a doctor to have enough time to meander away from his desk long enough to tell me he doesn't really care, and will I be billing this or paying outright?

I sat in pain for half an hour when I had kidney stones, I endured unbelievable amounts of paperwork while I bled to death in the waiting room chair when I sliced my thumb to the bone, and it took me half an hour to see a NURSE PRACTICIONER in an immediate care clinic to tell me in 3 short sentences (before she walked out) that I just needed some fancy Tums when I thought I had an ulcer - because it's too time consuming and expensive to do the actual test.

And don't even get me started on prescriptions. All the government wants to do is setup another system to COMPETE with private insurers to drive down costs and make doctors accountable to their patients. Who doesn't want that?

If you honestly don't understand healthcare reform - check this out - Health Care Reform drawn on the back of napkin.

It's really cool and easy to understand, partisan-free. And I dare say far more informative than anything from the office of Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins!

Let's dissect her letter and try to figure out if my 43c helped me to make a more informed decision. Her words are published in red (red because she's mad) and mine are in black.

Dear Friend (nope) - I believe that nothing should come between you and your doctor. (me neither, but it already does, and her name is insurance). Not Washington politicians (like you). Not government bureaucrats (also like you). And not insurance companies (I AGREE!).

Government programs like Social Security and Medicare are fiscally unsustainable and now some in Washington want the government to take over the entire health care
system (Mmm, I don't think so - this isn't really on the table anymore). Make no mistake about it; this course of action (meaning an entire takeover [which democrats don't want], or just creating a new system to compete with private insurers?) will bankrupt our nation. I know Kansas families need health care reform, but we need to do this right (I agree - I can't believe there are people out there consciously trying to do this wrong).

I support health care reforms that will make health insurance more affordable and available for all Kansans; these include coverage for pre-existing conditions (like I have and you're about to), medical liability reform and tax credits for individuals and small businesses. I also support strengthening and expanding Health Savings Accounts to give more control to individuals and encourage folks to save for future health care costs. We also need to weed out waste (LIKE THIS MAILING!?!?!), fraud and abuse (like calling your constituents incessantly?) and let families get the plan that best fits their needs (This really doesn't deviate from Obama's plan, except that right now, many families can't afford to pick a plan, and in 8 years of your turn at president, we made no progress ...).

I am confident we can provide affordable, quality health care that lets you control your healthcare decisions, without breaking the nation's bank.

Sincerely, Lynn Jenkins (Ohhhh, the next Republican I see SO owes me a stamp.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Your Call Will be Answered in the Order it was Received

I can never believe the looks of shock and disgust I receive when I tell people I used to work for a cable company. The problem is only exacerbated when the people I tell live in a city, where, like Lawrence, the service is merrily provided in an untimely, overpriced and monopolistic manner that ultimately results in frustration of orgasmic proportions. So, pretty much everyone.

This horrified expression is often chased with personal accounts of people's great battles against their local cable companies, and often in a matter-of-fact, even accusatory manner:

Stories of long wait times with anywhere from insipid to grating music playing ad nauseum interluded only with the promise of a service agent that would never come, but please check out our website because that's possible when your internet doesn't work.

Stories of malfunctioning field agents who commit to arriving only within a five hour timeframe, but stumble in more than acceptably late, and often, missing relevant parts.

And my favorite, stories of customer service agents who can't speak English, so how did they ever get a job where the single most important characteristic they should possess is that they should be easily understood over a phone?

Often, these anecdotes are hilarious, even when they're not intended to be. And as the story-tellers detail their struggles, you can almost picture them, sitting on the phone, a computer in pieces at their feet, eyebrows furrowed, butt cheeks clinched, clicking a pen or gripping their hair while fuming furiously as the elevator music pumps on a loop through the phone line that was merrily provided to them in an untimely, overpriced and monopolistic manner. And at that moment, that's when you remind them, that you used to work for a cable company. And yeah, man, I agree.

The following is an e-mail that was posted on If you have not visited this website, I suggest you do, but only AFTER you read this HILARIOUS e-mail from a dissatisfied cable customer. Be prepared to pee a lil'.

"Dear Cretins;

I have been an NTL customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your 3-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, and telephone.

During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions.

Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional prerogative, and seek to rectify these difficulties – or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office:

My initial installation was cancelled without warning or notice, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my behind waiting for your technician to arrive.

When he did not arrive at all, I spent a further 57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpful website…. how?

I alleviated the boredom to some small degree by playing solitaire for a few minutes – an activity at which you are no-doubt both familiar and highly adept.

The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools – such as a drill-bit, and his cerebrum.

Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After several further telephone calls (actually 15 telephone calls over 4 weeks) my modem arrived…

A total of six weeks after I had requested it, and begun to pay for it.

I estimate that the downtime of your internet servers is roughly 35%… these are usually the hours between about 6pm and midnight, Monday to Friday, and most of the useful periods over the weekend.

I am still waiting for my telephone connection. I have made 9 telephone calls on my mobile to your no-help line this week, and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals, who are it seems also highly skilled malarky jugglers.

I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that no telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been redirected to an answer machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman), and several other variations on this theme.

Doubtless you are no-longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore, and also another one of those crucially important solitaire to attend to. Frankly I don’t care, it’s far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustrations in print than to shout them at your unending hold music.

Forgive me, therefore, if I continue.

I thought BT were horrible, that they had attained the holy pot of god-awful customer relations, that no-one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That’s why I chose NTL, and because, well, there isn’t anyone else is there? How surprised I therefore was, when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of jerks you truly are. You are sputum-filled pieces of distended intestine – incompetents of the highest order. British Telecom – jerks though they are – shine like brilliant beacons of success, in the filthy puss-filled mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy.

Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you do likewise, and cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver – any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief – although these feelings will quickly be replaced by derision, and even perhaps a small measure of bemused rage.

I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cats litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you and your pointless company. I sincerely hope that they have not become desiccated during transit – they were satisfyingly moist at the time of posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you did not experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture. Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards NTL, and it’s worthless employees.

Have a nice day – may it be the last in you miserable short life, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of jerks. "


If he's this bad with the automated phone line, can you imagine all the awful things he must scream at those Grocery Store self-checkout machines?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Photos from the Garden

*insert latent-blog apology* I'm lazy.

Who else is grateful that plant-bearing weather is here? This isn't much of an update, but here are some photos I snapped the other day in my back yard. These beautiful early-spring perennials (read: tulips and hyacinth) were product samples I got on the job from Thompson & Morgan Seed, and they certainly paid off (read: they were free)!

Sorry about the watermarks, but, see, I'm going to start trying to sell stock photography to make some money on the side (read: money to live).

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No worries, I've got custody of Murphy's Law ...

Did you ever know that I'm your hero? I've got this bad karma crap covered. By this point, I'm pretty sure I'm officially Target A on its action item list, and it's STRUCK AGAIN! The victim this time? My poor left thumb.

Picture it: Monday morning, at work in the break room, washing a mod new vase I bought from Michael's - tickled that I stole away with such a great deal, ha ha ha. Only 10 bucks, who do these people think they're kiddin'? I'm totally thrifty.

The vase is in my hands, the faucet running, we're listening to the laughing nervousness of pre-caffeinated employees and feeling the collective sigh to the early start of a new week. Generally, I avoid venturing to the break room, because I don't do well soaking in all the crazy coffee people vibes - prefering instead, their company after the first cup.

Totally absorbed in all the conversations and illustrations around me, I pay no great attention to my vase washing when before I know it, my thumb pops a hole through the glass of the vase where I'm holding it, slicing through my finger like butter. I drop it, annoyed, searching my thumb.

I see my bone - MY BONE - between two different skin flaps! It's not bleeding at first, but I start looking around frantically for a band-aid. Instead, I grab a wad of paper towels and press them to the cut. But not before carefully removing the vase from the sink in order to be polite and avoid any potential drama from someone who - oh, I don't know - might like to wash their coffee mug.

The publisher of the company, who is present, very calmly suggests that we go to the emergency room for stitches, and goes out of his way to drive me to a clinic. Well, the nurse is sitting at the desk, alright, but the sign informs us that no help will be given until 9 - so we drive on to the Topeka hospital instead.

After a visit with a triage nurse, I'm sent to fill out paperwork because I have never visited the Topeka hospital before. I remember this all too well from my kidney stones days: When I was unable to stop from moaning, unable to sit still, and with the burning urge for the pee that wouldn't come - I sat in waiting room torture, hoping they would call my name before that woman in the wheel chair or that guy over there who probably broke his nose, but I don't want to jump to conclusions.

Kidney stones were way worse, but I'm still squirming in the seat as she asks me her great library of questions: When was my father born? What is my billing address? Is this workman's comp? How bad are my family genes? Am I a regular consumer of alcohol? Can they have my organs in the event of my untimely death?

I think they ask you these questions to stall you long enough to bleed you to the point where organ donation is just one fainting spell away.

At this point, my thumb is starting to throb, as I wait for the very slow woman to hunt-and-peck my information into her it-could-crash-at-any-moment computer. Listen, I consider myself a generally pleasant/polite person - and I know it's just her job - but she was slow as hell, and if I may be frank, a bit bitchy - and so, despite my best efforts, I couldn't help but feel personally affected, once again, by a person who hadn't had a sip of the coffee newly poured into her cup.

GRAPHIC MATERIAL AHEAD. Only ye of strong stomach should dare read on ...

Turns out - the doctor had been waiting on me while I was filling out paperwork. Ain't that a kick in the ass!? After about 20 minutes of Frasier and Regis and Kelly, my manager popped in just in time to see them sew my skin shut. It was so great having her there - I was seriously SO happy to work at Ogden Publications, a place where the people genuinely care. She gave me some Juicy Fruit and distracted me as I stomached the four shots! Youch!

She made sure to ask all the questions I forgot. Frankly, the doctor wasn't much help - other than to tell me that I got four stitches, and that the laceration was about 3 centimeters (call me a size-queen, but it was totally more). My skin's a little funky in the pictures because whatever anti-microbial solution she put on the gauze (which totally hooked to my stitches when I tried to take it off) was brown.

I must admit, trying to capture images of the inside of a thumb that doesn't stretch with my one good hand was one of the greatest photographic challenges of my young adult life! I think the doctor may have been right when he said, "Next time, cut yourself in a more convenient location." BTW: WhoTF says that to a patient!?

I think, perhaps, Karma was so displeased that I was OK with being single on Valentine's Day, it decided to remind me how much singularity sucks when you're trying to bandage your sliced thumb all alone in your house. What's next, choking?

Listen, if you know what's good for you, you'll stay away from me - or buy me a bubble.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Graphic Design - A New Challenge

My blogging (read: lack thereof) has become kind of ridiculous. I've had several people ask for photos of my new car, which I promise are coming presently.

But, I thought I'd catch you up on some of the new things I'm doing - so over the next week, I'm going to start posting photos of some of the things I've been working on at my job - some designs and some photos, just to give you a peek at my life with Ogden.

Here are some poster ads I did for a music festival in Austin called South by Southwest (SXSW), which, funnily enough (and not remarkably so) I had never heard of. The respectful companies liked my work and one, Americana, is interested in using it as part of an email campaign, which is flattering to say the least! (click images to enlarge)

It's certainly not my favorite thing I've ever done - but, it's simple, to the point, and that seemed to be what they wanted. Besides, I spent most of my alotted time making this:

Which got a lot of love from, what I understand, is a really important company.