If you saw me speak at The Stand Out Forums last year in either Toronto or here in Los Angeles, you likely know my plan for the year 2016. During my speech and presentation, I talked a lot about investing in personal work and personal projects to help both your portfolio, and the community around you. I told those who attended, that for the year 2016, I intended on making 25% of the photography work I do, to be personal work that helped rebuild my portfolio and the team I work with, or to help others through a variety of side projects. Well, this past weekend, I had the unique opportunity to photograph and mentor Karley Miller, an up and coming photographer with a very interesting story.
Karley Miller suffered a stroke while in utero and at only 18 weeks, which caused her to be born with Cerebral Palsy and live with epilepsy for the first 17 years of her life. But at 17, Karley was able to meet with Dr. Mark Dexter who told her that she could be cured of these seizures, by undergoing an experimental brain surgery removing half of her brain, which was damaged while being developed when she had her initial stroke. Despite the odds, Karley underwent the surgery and came out of it with a new life, free of epileptic seizures that had plagued her for the first 17 years. Free of these seizures and a success story of this extremely dangerous and experimental surgery, Karley told the world that she hopes to someday become a photographer and display her art all over the world. And that is where The Sebastian Foundation, the HeART Project, and eventually I came into the picture.
The Sebastian Foundation heard Karley’s story and was able to give her an experience of a lifetime, and fly her from Australia to LA, to learn from some of the very best photographers in the industry. Through this incredible story, photographers such as Sue Bryce, Jerry Ghionis, Benjamin Von Wong, Karen Alsop, Brooke Shaden, and myself were able to all come together to talk and train Karley on building her photography business. Additionally, Canon Australia, Tether Tools, EIZO, and Wacom all came together to help get Karley a jump start on her newfound career and passion, by supplying her with one hell of a shopping spree.
For my time spent with Karley, I was able to invite her to The Dover Studio, a professional photography studio here in LA, and show her around some of the gear used and the space that houses dozens of commercial photo shoots each year. I then was able to sit down with her, talk to her about my process as a portrait photographer, and share my experiences getting started in this industry. We then talked passions, and eventually, I was able to get her behind my Kino Flo 4Bank lights, and take headshot for her to use on her website and for other social medias. She then took my headshot, and we took headshots of the crew and others involved, as I was able to coach her on directing clients and shaping light.
In addition to giving this opportunity to Karley Miller, The Sebastian Foundation has also been recording the experience and has put together an incredible package to help benefit photographers who would like to get involved in the experience. From now until May 27th, you’re able to get an incredible package of education from some of the biggest names in the industry for only $99. Valued at over $750, this digital package has been donated and put together to help offset the costs of this incredible trip. You can check out and purchase the Karley Miller Digital Download Pack by clicking here.
The experience working with and helping train Karley Miller was an incredibly rewarding one. Both her and her mom were incredibly kind, and I think they were really able to take away a lot from the experience. I’m so glad to be part of a community and industry that is so willing to help others learn and grow, and look forward to doing more projects like this going forward.
More About Karley Miller’s Story
This session was made possible because of the Sebastian Foundation and The HeART Project. Without their help, none of this could be possible. Be sure to look at their special package to help fund the costs accruded from this incredible trip for Karley. To learn more about Karley Miller’s story, be sure to click here.