Frank A. Mills

Fine Art Photography

"About Me & My Photogrqaphy"

first photo
One of my first childhood photos*
This is me.

*About one of my first childhood photos — Every photo has a back story. And while I do not remember exactly how old I was, I was still young, maybe third grade? Anyway, it was the family tradition to take a nice long summer trip, this year the trip was along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway from Baltimore to Cherokee, South Carolina. Along the road rest stops became a necessity. On one such stop was along the Skyline (I know that because that's what's written on the back of picture) I took this photo. I imagine with the old family Brownie Box Camera.

Being a curious wander with a questioning mind from birth, my eyes seek always what lays hidden yet important. I’m always asking questions with an acute observation to the mysteries of life.
My atelier is not in the studio, it is in the world, where the daily is lived.

Off we go to grandma's house
(Or what's left of it)

This is more than photography,
it's art!

– RaJa Lee

Nostalgia is a strong emotion. Your images are evocative, stirring memories that lay somewhere in the recesses of my mind. Thanks for the journey.

– Charles Locke

Love your stories and the photos that tell us what others don't hear.

– Linda Cooper Persyn
The Backstory...

I have been around photography since a baby. By the time I was in elementary school, I had my own simple box camera (once belonging to my parents), I was experimenting with pinhole cardboard boxes and blueprint paper exposed to the sun. Added to the adventure was a darkroom in the cellar. With my parents' interest in the arts and crafts, it wasn’t long before I was exposed to creative artists and artistic crafts. As a child I would sit for hours poring over my parent’s photography and arts & crafts magazines. Because of his own interest in photography my dad introduced me to the work of some of the great photographers of the day, some I even had the fortune to I learned the basics of photography. I always had a camera although my interest waned when I discovered girls and cars, and later college studies took priority. With marriage, life, and an opportunity to travel, my interest again picked up and I became enamored with 127 film slides. I took thousands of them, just ask my kids. And that’s how I became a photographer, but that’s not the end of the story.

It wasn’t until the 90s that I began to become aware of the difference between “taking a picture” and “telling a story,” the difference between beautiful photos and photos that enabled inSight into the entirety of the world—people, places and things.

My becoming aware is an ever-evolving process that is constantly being honed. My goal is not so much to take photos that are technically correct as it is to take photos that tell stories, and sometimes breaking a rule tells a better story. That is not to say that I have no interest in photographic technological efficiency.

Small Town Layers (Gonzoles, Texas)

Photography knows no boundaries. It speaks all languages, yet speaks no language. You can get lost in a photo, you can create your ownworlds within a photo. This is as true of the viewer as it is of the photographer. Photography as story telling speaks a liberating language, one that releases the inherent stories, one that moves you away from expectations into creative inSight. Insight is that penetrating mental vision, the ability of seeing into inner character, the underlying stories.

As a photographer, the things that are most exciting to me are found in the periphery, along the edge of casual observation, along the edge of what normally catches our eye. In my photography I seek the edge of the observed world to see what goes unseen. I am still learning to see, really See. To see beyond what my eyes observe, to see with inSight.

What I hope with each image is to both communicate and create stories – real and imagined – in the mind of the viewer. To stir up memories of life and life lived. To surprise both myself and the viewer with how the inherent liberated story unfolds.

While teaching cultural studies I began to explore the “psychology of culture.” What is it that makes a culture – any culture – psychologically unique? What is it that gives a culture both utopic and dystopic qualities? What intrigued me most was that unobserved “space between the line (singular)” where independent cultures melded into one, yet retained the characteristic of each. Working at that time in the urban setting it was only natural that I began to look at the “space between the line” were neighbourhood cultures met, and then, the “space between the line” in physicality and urban scenes, particularly buildings and infrastructure. What stories went unheard in this space, what stories were waiting to be liberated? In the process I began to realize how photography could be an important tool in puncturing the line in a way that freed the embedded unheard stories, allowing them to be heard.

Waiting for the Bus

In a Nutshell…

As a writer and photographer I strive to a gleaner, seeking to glean from what often goes unobserved, seeking to make sense of the paradoxes and conundrums of daily living, and to present through image and word my vision of what I observe.

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.

– Ansel Adams

You capture the life and history in your shots! All of your work seems to easily create an emotional response, a feeling of nostalgia and the joy of memories.

Name Withheld

The Evolution of my Photography...

Over the past year my photography has evolved in two directions, both in technique and theme. Technique-wise my more traditional work has become more watercolor looking in style, while my contemporary modern has moved toward high structuralization and deep saturation. Theme-wise, my fine art photography has evolved into images that capture the landscape and those who (or what) moves upon it. The major themes are: Iconic Americana, Water and The Urban Soul

My contemporary modern, while still fine art, has moved toward what might be labeled, Upstart Modern, with little concern about the so-called "rules" of photography. It is in the process becoming more deviant.

American Elder

I have also been experimenting with various print media. I have come to the place where rarely print anything on pure canvas or regular photo paper any longer. Heavy art papers, such as watercolor and metallic paper, or even metal, wood, or glass have become medium of choice. No longer do I recommend framing or mounted canvas. For example, I much more prefer watercolor paper mounted on colored birch canvas board with a floating mount or thick backing frame matched to the color of the birch canvas board.

"11th Street" (Bandera, Texas)

Another area of doing things differently is that now that everything I print is of archival quality, and usually no more than 10 of any one image (each print is numbered & signed)