A preoccupation with the end of life motivates so much of what we do that we too infrequently marvel at its beginning.
One photographer became interested in capturing those first few moments on earth. It was an interesting, though not totally improbable, shift for Lisa Miller, a photog who has built her reputation by documenting another important life stage: weddings. Educated at both the Mohawk Valley Community College and the New York Institute of Photography, and based out of her own Studio di Luce in New Hartford, Lisa also is in-demand as a fashion and portrait photographer.
Opportunity knocked in the winter of 2010, when Lisa’s friend mentioned that two of the thoroughbreds in her Upstate New York barn were pregnant. Lisa recalls, “Even though the idea of hanging out in a cold barn in the middle of winter didn’t thrill me, the idea of being present during these births did; I knew very little about horses and even less about the birth process, but for some reason I was really excited about being a part of it.”
Lisa arrived at the horse farm , settled into the hay and snapped away, somewhat at random, as the horses labored. After developing her images, Lisa sifted through them and discovered that she had captured the exact moment when the mare and the foal first connected. She still remembers the excitement of that revelation: “It was electric how the images just jumped off the screen and hit me like a lightening bolt between the eyes! I knew I had to do something with these [photographs].”
And thus, as the result of other births, The Foal Project was born; Lisa is both the founder and director. Since that first shooting session nearly 4 years ago, Lisa has traveled from her home near Utica to horse farms spanning Upstate New York, and photographed more than 30 New York thoroughbred foalings in the process. She further expanded her equine repertoire to include images of equine assisted therapy, which connects people with Autism and PTSD to therapy horses. “The energetic moment of connection between a mare and her foal is similar to the connection shared between a human and the therapy horse. I have witnessed firsthand how the horse can serve mankind in such an amazing capacity.”
In Lisa’s personal life, she devotes herself to volunteerism. In one of those capacities, as a volunteer photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, she creates “remembrance photography” for parents coping with the loss of a newborn child (a photographic tradition that dates back to the 19th century); so it is that she captures the beginning, middle and end of life. Her focus remains on finding the beauty in the world, and working to right the wrongs: she photographs for The Heart Gallery, to assist foster children in finding permanent homes, and has served in various capacities, including board president, at The Peacemaker Program, to help families resolve their conflicts in a peaceful manner.
Lisa walks the walk. She donates 100 percent of the proceeds from The Foal Project to equine charities. With each and every purchase of these aluminum prints, you, too, will contribute to supporting some incredible causes in an industry that defines the way of life for so many New Yorkers. Each image is fused onto aluminum, and many are limited editions, signed and dated by Lisa herself. The artist names each work, but never provides a statement as to its meaning; it’s all a state of mind, and she wants the image to help you express yours.
Peruse all of the images on the NYSOM Marketplace: