Projects, Projects, Projects!
Another nasty winter, our collective Vermont souls were desolated by the lack of snow, beauty replaced by a grey wasteland of frozen earth, again a roller coaster of temperature swings, and a new precaution many Vermonters practice–a pair of boots (often insulated Muck boots) equipped with cleats or small metal coils (they do not puncture wooden floors) on the soles of the boots, stretched on there with elastic, and kept permanently on the boots. Why? Icy driveways for the most part, and last year the reports of so many ER trips for sprains and breaks from slip-sliding into an unexpected dipsydoodle. These cleats, a minimized form of ice crampons, can be bought in many sports stores or where boots are sold. Yes, it can be a project crossing a glazed driveway or sidewalk. Climate change has brought this new sport to Vermont. Ice cheaters on Muck Boots
A report of my other Projects:
The New Website
My blog is on my website but if you made it here cross country, my calling card is www.petermillerphotography.com. My site is functioning but I have many more photographs to load. I used to have three websites but they have been distilled into this more personal showcase. The selected photographs are the favorites of collectors and myself; many are from my books and there are forgotten photos found in my files that sometimes dilate your pupils and create goose bumps. Not often though. Oh yes, they are invariably black and white images. This site is good looking and functional! Thanks go to photographer, web designer and fellow VermonterJohn Hadden (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Did you know that my reputation outside of Vermont has been for color? Frankly, I am not keen with color and it is why my personal work is black and white. However, you will find color on this website and one of the portfolios displays many color panoramics and some black and whites, which again are my favorites.
Yes, my books are also on display and there is a shopping cart. There is a language translator on this website. Click on the button and learn a language. I intend to market my images outside of this country. Many people I have met from other countries favor black and white photography—of our rural landscapes and people.
New Book Project: The Vanishing Vermonter… an endangered species.
I am behind on this project. The website and a serious case of the flu wiped out my momentum but I am now gearing up. Many Vermonters are bitter at the direction the state is headed and the high costs of taxes, real estate and energy. Many wish to migrate to other states where the cost of living is so much lower but they cannot find a buyer for their Vermont homes. Others are furious at our legislature that preens in its capability to pass new green bills and raise taxes. Yet, I have yet to nail this book. Part is the cost of living, part is the spending legislature and towns, and part of it is just plain dislike of gentrification. But wait a minute, maybe the anxious murkiness that sometimes wakes us night, is not only impending poverty but the loss of our country culture, the way the native Vermonters live simply with each other, the customs and traditions that are being burnished to Connecticut standards, the loss of frugalness of the individual and the town’s spending habits, the wind turbines and accompanying roads massed on our mountain tops, a destruction, many country residents believe, of a part of Vermont that is sacred and important to our environment and to us. Or it could be a loss of a country store, a newspaper, sprawl where it should never be. My, I need more input and thought on this book project.
I am 82. I have beaten the statistical date for my death by a few years and but my life could be as short as tomorrow. I have survived a heart attack, pneumonia doubled with flu, an infected foot that cost me half a toe, that started with frostbite waiting for the moon to top the clouds while taking a photos on a very cold winter night.
Lord knows I have had close calls in cars and avalanches, from rock climbing and near drownings. I seem to live in a sea of stress and I never catch up in work. Yet, because of photography, like the Navajos, I walk in beauty and I still have miles to go. And I have been blessed with luck.
For over half a century I have taken photographs. In the Great Plains, from Montana to Texas, in Japan, New Zealand, South America, Egypt, throughout Europe and of course here at home in Vermont. What to do with my archive? My kids cannot handle it, one living in England and the other doing aid work in Uganda. Museums want celebrity photographers but I am a grunt. Because of that I have some wonderful portfolios taken in the 1950’s in France and Vermont but I am not a celebrity, never wanted to be one. I am now in the midst of negotiating with the University of Vermont Special Collections to handover to them my archive. They would keep the collection together and put it online. Many of my images are already scanned and I could help doing more. We have made an accord of what we want to do. There is the question of payment for the archive but I’ll work on that. I would continue to use the copyright in my lifetime but at my death UVM would own the kit, caboodle, and the copyright. I better not die tomorrow for I have so much to accomplish.
I am my own Airbnb Chambermaid.
Last year I realized I could not afford to keep my home. My stock photography income dropped from a high of about $60,000 at the turn of the century to less than $10,000 last year. This was due to several factors. The digital revolution brought in the technology so that anyone could take a sharp and well exposed photograph. The photo stock agencies, my biggest supplier of income, was sacked by Getty Images. This photo stock company started with an English agency and they quietly bought up smaller or poorly funded agencies in Europe and America. They cherry picked the best images and then threw the name and the rest of it in a trash can. Getty became an ominous competitor. Some agencies that were not bought by them folded and lord knows what happened to my images, Getty usurped many of agencies I worked with. And then they lowered the photographer’s commission from 60% to 40%. Now my pictures appear in many countries. and I do not receive payment for them and I don’t know who supplied the photograph.
So many book stores have closed and there are not many of those literary book store owners that worked hard at promoting authors and the books on their shelves. Reading books is becoming a pleasure of older people, while many of the young hang on sound and visual bytes seen on the smart phone or tube. So it is more difficult to sell a well crafted book through the stores. The price has to be very high to cover the commissions and printing costs. This multiple whammy of digital revolution, the destruction of stock photography, the loss of independent stores and high cost Vermont knocked me down to $10,000 income and cash flow dried up like a bleached creek bed in August.
To stay in Vermont, I squashed my Colbyville gallery into one room and turned the others into a four bedroom Airbnb with a small kitchen (I now wash sheets and make beds). That brought in enough money to cover most of my house expenses. This year I hope to combine the Airbnb with three day seminars and photo trips through Vermont. You got it: I am re-inventing myself. Not the first time.
Yes, but still, I have those two other book projects—Paris in the Fifties and Margaux Vendange, 1957. They will do better outside of this country and I need to find a publisher and literary agent. That’s why this website can be translated with the push of a finger. Wish me luck!
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