PRO EDU Interview with Sandro Miller | Priceless Advice From A Photography Master

Sandro Miller was the first photographer to document the ENTIRE Cuban Olympic team since the mid twentieth century. Sandro was once kissed on the lips by Muhammad Ali. Sandro once made Michael Jordan cry. If you call yourself a photographer, you will not want to miss this rare video interview with Sandro from PRO EDU.

A few weeks ago Rob Grimm and myself were able to sit down with one of my all time favorite portrait photographers, Sandro Miller and ask him questions about his life and career. You may have seen Sandro's recent viral campaigns with John Malkovich, or the legendary Nikon D800 promo video below. In either case, if you are a portrait photographer you should seriously study his bodies of work throughout his expansive online portfolio. Sandro continues to push the envelope of creativity in both film and motion and I am still not quite sure how he manages to stay on top of the game, even after he explained it to me three feet away for an hour. Without question he is a master of light and composition but it quickly became apparent that this wasn't even his biggest attribute. Sandro has a innate ability to quickly build rapport and trust with his subjects to quickly evoke the emotion he envisioned. This, in my humble opinion, is where most photographers fail. You can be a technical master of light, but if you can't bring out the emotion in your subject you will never succeed. Sandro is truly one of the most genuine and humble photographers I've ever come in contact with and a true master of his craft. His ability to build relationships both with his subjects and his clients is a life long lesson all photographers should seek to master. Forget the gear, forget the new sensor. Focus on the soft skills first and this career will take you further than you thought a new camera body would.

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The Malkovich series will be on display in Chicago From November 7th to January 31st at the Catherine Edelman Gallery. I suggest you go check it out in person.

Below are a few of his videos he's directed that have really stood out to me.

Nikon D800 Promo

Ecstasy Featuring John Malkovich

Butterflies Featuring John Malkovich


Sandro has been photographing people for over thirty years. He became interested in photography at the age of sixteen upon seeing the work of Irving Penn and has since devoted his life to creating expressive images.

With numerous award-winning campaigns to his credit, Sandro is one of today's foremost photographers. He has photographed many national advertising campaigns for a long list of clients including: Allstate Insurance, American Express, Anheuser-Busch, BMW, Dove, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Honda, Pepsi, Milk, Nikon, Microsoft, Miller/Coors, Motorola, Nike, Adidas, Pony, UPS, Champion, and the US Army.

In 2001 Sandro was invited by the Cuban government to photograph that country's greatest national treasure – its athletes. This project was the first US/Cuban collaboration since the trade embargo was imposed in 1960. Sandro's editorial work has been featured in The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Russian Esquire, Time, Forbes, Details, Stern, Wired, Newsweek, Vibe, Communication Arts, Graphis, New York Magazine, Eyemazing, and ESPN Magazine and has been exhibited worldwide.

Sandro has a working relationship with the camera giant Nikon and is responsible for introducing the latest technology to the professional photographic world. He has worked on many award-winning projects with Nikon including a portrait session with actor John Malkovich in Croatia, a series of motorcycle racing shots in Brainerd, Minnesota, a still and video shoot of the roller derby team "The Windy City Rollers", a video of the world-renowned high-wire artist Philippe Petit, and most recently, a short cinematic video entitled "Joy Ride", featuring a motorcyclist racing through the early morning streets of Chicago on a mysterious mission.

Throughout Sandro's career, each year he has contributed his talents to both community based and national charitable organizations by creating powerful imagery and compelling campaigns soliciting contributions for such organizations as the American Heart Association, Food Depository of Chicago, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Milwaukee, Evans Life Foundation, Arts for Life, Dance for Life, AIDS Chicago, AIDS New Jersey, and The Good City.

At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in July 2011, Sandro was acknowledged with a Saatchi & Saatchi Best New Director Award for his short video "Butterflies" featuring John Malkovich.

For the past five years, in juried competition within the industry, Sandro has been voted one of the top 200 advertising photographers in the world.

Gary Winchester Martin's picture

Gary W. Martin is a commercial photography producer and founder of PRO EDU. His company creates documentary style Photography and Photoshop tutorials with some of the best photographer/instructors in the world. Gary has spent 20% of his life abroad and once made a monkey faint in Costa Rica. He speaks English and Romanian.

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I met Sandro 4 years ago and he welcomed me into his Chicago studio with open kindness and generously shared advice.