By: Bryan Cargill
Leanne Miller is a naturally creative person, with a focus in photography that has been crafted since she was in high school. With the success of her photography business, Leanne Miller Media, she has recently incorporated videography into her skill set. By helping local businesses understand the possibilities of marketing their business through promotional video, she has made a good name for herself in the Boise, Idaho area.
BC: What got your started/ interested in photography and videography?
LM: I’ve always loved creating things. In high school, I took every art class I possibly could. Photography class was my favorite – I was extremely lucky to go to a high school that still had a film darkroom. I struggled a lot my senior year to decide what my “next step” was, and I decided to take time off, make a little money with my photography, and go from there. Two years later, my business had grown immensely and I started learning videography as a marketing tool for my own business. Seeing the effect film has on people made me hugely passionate about encouraging other small businesses to incorporate video into their marketing plans, too. I currently specialize in online promotional videos for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs.
BC: How long have you been doing photo and/or video?
LM: I’ve been in business officially for three years now! That number always sounds like less than it should be to me – I feel like I’ve been doing this forever, in a good way.
BC: What is the most fun thing about the job?
LM: I really love collaborating with other creative business owners. My favorite thing is when a client says, “you captured my business perfectly.” Film is a mix of so many different mediums – music, imagery, storytelling, movement – which is why it’s so captivating… but that means that no “ordinary person” can easily communicate their message through video without some help. My favorite thing is being able to use my expertise to share someone else’s vision, which they could never have achieved on their own.
BC: What is the most challenging part of the job?
LM: Being my own boss is amazing, but, like most creatives, I am DEFINITELY my worst critic! I think the hardest part for me is seeing my work only through my own eyes. It’s so hard to be objective, especially after you’ve watched something over and over in editing. Even though I work alone, I have a community of colleagues and friends that I trust to give me critique or just bounce ideas off of.
BC: What is your favorite experience with a client, or which experience stands out the most in your memory?
LM: I care a lot about the pre-production process. I want to show up on set and know exactly what we’re going for, and I want my client to trust that everything I’m going to do has a purpose! I start every job with a long list of questions and send clients details on everything I’m working on and what I hope to communicate for them. My favorite experience was during the planning process, when my client told me that she felt like I had “read her mind.” Shoot days are SO much smoother when clients know that you’re working towards the same goal. As a business owner myself, I know how scary it is to let someone else communicate your message, so anytime I can earn the trust of my client I know we’re going to create something awesome!
BC: Do you storyboard or freestyle when you go on shoot?
LM: Unless I’m shooting just for fun, I always create a shot list or storyboard. I charge my clients for their time, so I don’t want to waste any by shooting something unnecessary. It makes editing way quicker too to basically have the whole film laid out before we even shoot.
BC: Where does your inspiration draw from?
LM: I’m going with the cliché artist answer here – everything! The world is really beautiful. Specifically, though, I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. It’s a good mental exercise, to think about how you could represent that person perfectly in a short film.
BC: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?
LM: Working with small business owners has opened my eyes to how many options there are for young, creative people. I took a huge risk starting a business right after high school, and a lot of kids don’t have the means or support to do that. I definitely want to be an inspiration for young artists and help them (and their parents) realize that artists CAN make a good living! I don’t know how that will look exactly, but I know video will play a role somehow!
People always say, “don’t quit your day job” in a negative way, but I think it really is sound advice. It’s totally fine to pursue photography or videography “on the side” while you have something consistent to pay the bills. Otherwise, you fall into the trap of just trying to make money… you’ll take jobs you’re not passionate about, work too hard, and eventually lose the love you originally had for your craft.