“I’ve met so many people who are creating their own businesses and following their passions.”
This week we meet Cape Town photographer Johnny Miller, who has a keen sense of observing the world around him, and in his own words, isn’t afraid of much.
Voices of the City is a weekly feature that spotlights the everyday lives of our citizens, living and working in the city. By asking the same five questions to all our interviewees, we discover not only how our experiences of the city differ, but also what we share. It is a daunting task to try and capture the diverse experiences of our city’s inhabitants, but we feel that it is a worthy, and necessary, endeavor, in order to better understand the present and future of our city.
This week we meet with Johnny Miller, a Cape Town – based professional photographer and professional video producer, who has lived and traveled all over. His personal interests include education, documentary video, and beauty photography.
What about Cape Town inspires you the most?
The sense of entrepreneurship. I’ve met so many people who have created their own businesses and following their passions, and are actually becoming successful at it. I love the idea of acting and consuming locally, even hyper-locally, and the idea of creating your own work is beautiful to me. There’s a definite buzz around the city and it’s really inspired me to create and produce my own work.
Do you have a secret space or place that you enjoy in the city?
I am happiest when I’m on Table Mountain. I love hiking and climbing, and I’m constantly invigorated by the different moods of the mountain, depending on the time of day and the weather. My favorite hike is a narrow ridge-line hike called Kloof Corner, which is near the cable-car, which is absolutely a must-do (if you’re not afraid of heights).
What was the last exciting event you attended in the city?
Definitely the most exciting event I last attended was the Tradathon on Table Mountain. It’s a rock climbing festival with workshops, guides, and open climbing for all levels. The best part about it is that most of the climbing is just below the actual cable car station, so you need to abseil right next to all the tourists coming up the cable car. I have to admit I kind of like their shocked looks when you hop over the fence and then disappear down what looks like a sheer cliff!
What frustrates you about the city?
I get frustrated by the divisions that are so apparent in the city, and I also get frustrated at myself, for becoming complacent about those divisions. I moved to Cape Town from the USA and the very obvious separation between class, race, services, and accessibility really shocked me. I’m much more used to it now but I still find myself asking, “What am I doing to actually change that?” I have to admit that sometimes being a photographer makes me think that I’m not doing anything at all, and that the people who need to be celebrated are the teachers, the volunteers, the doctors, the community leaders. There are so many people doing so much amazing work around Cape Town, it’s very inspiring. But I go back and forth every day between feeling incredible hopeful, and then totally disillusioned. No other city I’ve ever lived in makes me feel such wildly disparate emotions on a daily basis.
You can have dinner with one person living or dead. Who is it and why?
You know I’ve thought a lot about this recently! I would love to have dinner with the Dalai Lama. He is absolutely fascinating, educated, even-tempered, and his life is like a real-life adventure movie. I’d love to ask his advice on handling stressful, difficult issues with grace and dignity. But what I really want to know are his thoughts on reincarnation. Does he actually remember his past lives? How did they know to choose him as the Dalai Lama? Does he actually believe his own story? I have read some of his writings on science and technology, which are very reasoned and well-educated. I would like to know how he reconciles that with his own fantastic story.
Hear more voices of the city:
- Voices of the city: Funke Makinwa
- Voices of the city: Boeta Phyf
- Voices of the city: Zahira Asmal
- Voices of the city: Lapido Eso
- Voices of the city: Thozama Mputa
- Voices of the city: Darren Blair
- Voices of the city: Medina Dugger
- Voices of the city: Misha Teasdale
- All images by Johnny Miller: www.millefoto.com