Member Profile – Earl Mills

“Photographs that look like paintings,” this is the visual clue that informs most of us that we are looking at an Earl Mills photo.  His distinctive style has been nurtured and developed over a life-long love affair with photography and for a time the chance to work at National Geographic magazine. This development has three components, each of which adds something to the viewer’s experience of his camera work. The first is artistry.  Earl developed his style when he found that painting was beyond his skills.  This drove him to develop the technique which gives his photographs a painterly look.  In fact, anyone who has sat at the desk in the Washington Street Artists’ Cooperative gallery has probably had to explain to at least one person that these are photographs and not paintings.  Using this technique and a strong selective sense as to what is and what is not the focus of each picture, Earl’s artistry climbs another rung to envelop the viewer in a moment, place or time.  This leads to the second component of his work: history.  Earl has taken the old adage, “grow where you’re planted”, to another level.  Living in an area where the historical currents of our culture crisscross one another, he has chosen to highlight them in one or another of their facets.  Whether scenes evoking the Civil War, or the subtle interplay of 19th century architecture, or the natural characteristics which made Harpers Ferry Washington’s choice as the site for America’s early government-supported armory, Earl instinctively combines the land, people and early technology which make history come alive for so many. One of his photographs, Burnside Bridge over Antietam Creek is shown in an idyllic light, which serves as a counterpoint to the horrendous battle which took place there in 1862.  The contrast between the calm of the photo and what we know of the event strikes a chord with us and leads us to the third component of Earl’s work:  his hunger for personal growth.  He describes himself as self-taught.  His desire to learn is eclectic and probing.  Earl’s eye is one which allows life to come to it and have its say – even to the point of revealing more than was intended.  In a gentility which shows artistic strength, Earl receives what the image gives him and welcomes the viewer to hold it in the same esteem.  Come to our gallery and be enlivened by the artistry, history and hunger for going farther which you will find in the work of Earl Mills.  You can also visit his web site

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