Someone all Photographers Need to Know!
I had a fascinating afternoon recently interviewing Daniel Miller, the founder of YourDailyPhotograph.com, and Duncan Miller Gallery. Miller is internationally recognized for owning one of the largest collections of fine art photographs. His vast knowledge of both vintage and contemporary photographs was apparent during our conversation, and YourDailyPhotograph has exposed many art photographers to their first sale.
What brought you to the world of art photography?
It was the late 90s and I owned a music media company that was falling prey to the era of digital distribution and Napster’s rise. I was poking around for a new direction and purchased a building on Venice Boulevard as an investment. Concurrently, my girlfriend at the time was an artist and needed a location to paint. She began to sell her pieces in the space and that generated the idea to turn it into an art gallery.
Duncan Miller is such a powerful name, where did that come from?
Upon opening the gallery, I was still intertwined with the music business and did not want to cause any confusion. I decided to name the gallery after my great uncle Duncan, whom I never met but had always heard about from my family. The name Duncan resonated with me, and I frequently have customers and patrons refer to me by the name Duncan. Much to the humor of my friends and family, I never correct anyone and go with it.
YourDailyPhotograph is a powerful online platform for art photography. How did you get this off the ground?
Ten years ago, I realized the art market at the time was quite regionalized with local galleries and local collectors supporting them. I thought a new format that could be worldwide would be interesting for collectors. I reached out to thirty-five of my top vintage and contemporary collectors and inquired if I could send them a daily photograph for their consideration via email.
Fifteen collectors said no right away, the rest agreed to receive the daily emails. It took several months to take off, but eventually, photographs began to sell. YourDailyPhotograph has grown organically mainly through word of mouth and it now has 9,974 subscribers in 77 countries.
How do you acquire photographs featured on YourDailyPhotograph?
I spend a lot of time visiting galleries, artist studios, random auctions, art fairs, estates, and even flea markets around the world for fine art photographs. I have found incredible hand-painted turn-of-the-century photographs in Ukrainian and Hungarian markets that have value to my collectors. I also rely on my relationships within the art photography world and word of mouth from photographers. We have 4200 photographers who have contributed to the site.
I was also fortunate to be approached back in 2017 by a bank that had repossessed a huge archive of photographs. The bank was sitting on some four million vintage photographs and they were looking to sell the whole lot. We came to an agreement with the bank and conducted one of the largest photograph purchases ever made. I bought a climate-controlled warehouse and hired a team to begin a tedious three-and-a-half-year process to sort and organize the photographs.
What motivates and inspires you at Duncan Miller Gallery?
My favorite part of owning a gallery is looking into an artist’s eyes when I hand them a check for a work we sold. I love seeing their excitement and know it helps validate them as artists. If you focus on the artists you represent and keep them happy, then you can have a successful gallery.
The other really cool part is selling a new collector their first photograph. Collecting photographs is a healthy addiction that brings lots of benefits. Great photographs don’t have to be expensive. Walking by one every day you love that’s on your wall is pretty satisfying. Photographers themselves are some of our best collectors.
What makes a photograph worthy of being a great photo?
A good photograph can be a great piece of art if it stirs an emotional reaction within the viewer. I have the opportunity to preview so many photographs and there are some that one of our curators will choose that don’t move me, yet they will sell well. So I am always learning and sometimes surprised when trying to figure out which images someone is likely to purchase.
Any words of advice you give when mentoring up-and-coming art photographers?
I have unofficially mentored thousands of people over the years and always advise them to make great work, read any photo books they can get their hands on, and create interesting artistic pieces.
About ten years ago I started presenting a seminar called “Fifteen Things You Can Do to Get Represented by a Gallery”. It has gained popularity over the years, and I have presented it to attendees in ten countries.
What is next on the horizon for YourDailyPhotograph and Duncan Miller Gallery?
It’s Business as usual. We continue to search every day for great fine art photographs to present to our collectors.
In summary, if you are a photographer with gallery-worthy work, Daniel Miller and YourDailyPhotograph is an outlet that you should consider. For an emerging growth artist, this is a great venue to launch your photography career.If you are an experienced or ‘novice’ collector Daniel Miller is a great resource for the finest in emerging growth, contemporary and vintage photographic art.