In April we launched the ‘Nation of Storytellers’ initiative to encourage people across the UK to record and share personal and family stories that might otherwise be lost forever.
We partnered with photographer Ed Miller who travelled around the UK to photograph the individuals behind the 20 winning entries. These stories are included in an exciting new Blurb book commemorating Nation of Storytellers.
Ed is a prolific London-based photographer with credits spanning editorial and commercial work for some of the UK’s leading ad agencies and clients, such as BAFTA and Penguin. He’s perhaps best known for his film/TV production work, and most recently for capturing some of the best moments from the Paralympic Games
We caught up with him to find out how he approached the project.
Blurb: So how would you describe your style of photography?
Ed: I’d like to think that on a good day my work is clean, graphic, and colourful. I like to shoot things quite wide, wherever possible, embracing negative space and trying to create balance and harmony in the composition. I love it when I’m able to involve little quirky details, be it colour, properties, clothes, or furniture. I also try and light everything to create a little impact and drama. I think my best work is when I’m able to think on my feet and be resourceful and find inspiration in a location or subject. Ultimately, though, I’m a dog who wants patting; I seek approval and always try to make my clients and subjects happy.
Blurb: How did you feel when you were first asked to get involved with Blurb’s Nation of Storyteller’s project?
Ed: I knew immediately that this was a project that had potential to become very exciting and rewarding for me. As Julija Svetlova (one of the 20 competition winners) said to me, it was like a personal project where the subjects and research had been done for me. It was always going to be a new portfolio of work, for me, and a wonderful way to spend a month or so. I also was chuffed to bits to be working with Blurb, whose books I have admired very much. (I’ve many friends and colleagues who have produced Blurb books and I was certain that my pictures would be given a wonderful design treatment and platform.)
Blurb: What was it like to meet the people behind the stories?
Ed: I feel like I made a friend everywhere I went. Sometimes I sensed that people were a little wary of being photographed at first, but when we met, everything made more sense and I was able to reassure them and gain a level of trust and persuade them of my intentions: to try and do them and their story justice. I personally feel like I made a bond with and shared a ’moment’ with everyone I shot for the book. Pointing a camera at someone is often quite an intense experience, on both sides of the lens; I try to hold on to those feelings and hope to stay in touch with as many of the Storytellers as possible.
Blurb: People familiar with your work will know that you work a lot in the film and TV industry. Did this expertise help with capturing the stories in the book?
Ed: It was helpful as an incentive and reminder to appreciate the level of creative input I had to this project. Often working in a film/TV environment, I have little say in what I shoot or how I shoot it.
Blurb: Now that you’ve finished taking the photos for the book, looking back, what were the highlights?
Ed: Every shoot was challenging and rewarding in its own way and I can’t choose a favourite. Overall, it was the project itself and the body of work I produced that I’m most satisfied with. I’m incredibly excited to see what the designer does with the images and how the book turns out. Seeing a copy for the first time will be thrilling. Fingers crossed!
Blurb: What other projects are you working on now?
Ed: I’ve just finished working at the Paralympics for Channel 4 as a documentary photographer. Another intense and exhausting – physically and emotionally – experience, and another rewarding and meaningful job for me. It’s so nice to do work one believes in, involving real people. I think it’s still too close to make sense of, but I hope in time, it’ll turn out to be an important couple of weeks work for me in terms of my career.
To see Ed’s work visit his website and check out the Nation of Storytellers book in Blurb’s online bookstore. All the proceeds from book sales will be donated to ReadWell, a charity that provides books, storytelling, materials and sessions to young children in hospital.