Featured Artist - Jordan Mileski
If you’ve followed Up North Trading Co. for any significant amount of time the name Jordan Mileski should no doubt ring a few bells. Jordan was the first photographer we ever had the pleasure of connecting with when our little brand was still in it’s infancy (what an amazing stroke of luck that was... images below). She is not only an amazing photographer, but one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet. From wildlife to landscapes, aerial to underwater, portraits to products, her talent knows no boundaries… nor does her humility or sense humor (and you should most definitely follow her on Instagram if you don’t already).
How did you get started out in photography?
It’s sort of funny, I needed a hobby and my hubby suggested photography. I remember replying verbatim, “That’s the dumbest idea ever, everyone and their mother is a photographer. No thanks!” The very next weekend I took a camera on a camping trip and haven’t put it down since.
You recently started getting into underwater photography, building on your already accomplished portfolio of aerial, landscape, wildlife, portrait and product photography. So many photographers choose to focus on one area, but you seem to transition between each specialty so fluidly and with a consistent style… what’s your secret? Do you have a singular artistic philosophy or do you approach each in a completely different manner?
One thing I really love in photography is simplicity. Having a singular subject, and editing it in a way that sticks to my theme really helps. It doesn’t necessarily matter what your subject is, as long as you can portray the topic strongly in your image. One thing that I know not all photographers choose to do is pick a color theme. I love black, white, and blue. They make my mind happy and calm when see those colors together. Another great way to keep your gallery consistent is keeping your shadows and highlights the same level of darkness or brightness! This thematic gallery style isn’t for everybody, but it’s a fun challenge for me.
On a quick unrelated note, I don’t necessarily feel that Instagram is the epitome somebody’s photography, but it’s certainly a demonstration of their style and consistency. IG is my favorite way to display my art and I have a ton of fun with it, but I have a lot of other images that wouldn’t work on my Instagram gallery at all. I think photographers out there to keep expanding on their work, and even if it doesn’t fit ‘the feed’, to shoot it anyways. :)
I’m glad you brought that up. You have clearly developed a very consistent visual voice on Instagram lately. Do you ever feel constrained by the world you have created or does it help you focus? Also how important do you feel it is for photographers to develop a specific voice versus a diversified portfolio? I ask because the shots you have taken for us in the past as well as your work with other brands like Duluth Pack and Bishop + Rook manage to venture out a little and seem to broaden your overall body of work even though they may not always fit within the well defined parameters of your IG feed.
I would say I've definitely set some limitations for myself with my online gallery. I personally feel that the smaller of a box you have to work with, the more creative you are forced to become. I'm still working on how to incorporate photographs that might not be easy to use on my Instagram feed, but that's what I love about it. It's always changing and growing! I think it's really important to show that you can create consistent, good work. That being said, it's also important to not pigeon hole yourself into only shooting ONE style of image. I think if I sent a client only photos that were all blue, they might have a hard time using that on their platforms. I'll typically send a few photos that represent my style, but also some a wider variety that can be used with more versatility.
You and your husband recently bought a bus that you are converting into a mini home (check out @vandrabus on instagram to follow the adventure)… can you tell us a little about your plans for the bus and how the build out is going?
The bus is going well! We plan to have it finished before this winter. We probably won’t travel in it much this year. However, the winter of 2020 we will be all over the states in it! It’s definitely the most fun (and difficult) project we have taken on!
Do you happen to have any upcoming adventures on the docket for the near future?
Maui, baby… :) and buying an underwater housing is in the works for that trip! February is the whale migration so I’m hoping to spend most of my time flying drones and diving in the ocean!
Do you have any specific bucket shots that you some day hope to get? What’s your white whale?
Oh boy, can my white whale be a Blue Whale? Hopefully a top down shot of a blue whale will get knocked off the list this February in Maui! Other then that, I dream of photographing snow leopards. I also want to take the bus to Newfoundland and Labrador to photograph snow bears, icebergs, puffins, and the like.
As a North Shore aficionado, what’s your favorite location to shoot?
If I told you I’d have to kill you… Just kidding! I really love shooting Tettegouche State Park and High Falls. So much of what’s exciting to shoot depends on the weather as well.
Do you happen to have any mandatory pit stops you always like to try and hit along the way (food/shops/scenery/etc.)?
Judy’s Cafe in Two Harbors is a must stop for me. It’s my favorite cafe in the world, and it’s a dive but it ALWAYS hits the spot. I also love the Bluewater Cafe in Grand Marais. After shooting a sunrise, they have the best coffee and hashbrowns.
Who are your heroes out there in the design/photography world?
For photography, my biggest hero is Benjamin Hardman. He is an arctic explorer and photographer in Iceland and Greenland. He’s my biggest influence in photography and the photos he takes are pure magic. In the design world, Christian Watson(1924.us), Pointer and Pine, and Zach Beckman are three that I really love!
Do you have a favorite photo you have ever taken?
Leopards very rarely stand up to look for prey, and when I took the photo I was hand holding a 200-400 2.8 lens through a bush so the fact that I even have an image is something I’m super proud of. Even if it’s super grainy lmao
Time to pay it forward… If it were up to you who would you recommend we feature next? and who should we all be following right now?
You gotta feature my girl, Emily Theisen! She’s so talented and creative, and we bounce off each other a lot for almost everything we do. Another suggestion is Parker Hoen, he’s really talented as well and one of the funniest guys you will ever meet.
Photographers I’m really loving include:
Nolan Omura (@nolanomura)
Luke Stockman (@lukestockman)
Nick Bondarev (@nickbondarev)
Kasper Hoglund (@kasper.hoglund)
Awesome! Thank you so much for your time. Just 1 last question and I saved the best for last because I know you are a massive fan of the Office and in particular Mr. Dwight Schrute…. what’s your favorite Dwightism???
Haha! So hard to decide so I have two. "A real man swallows his vomit when a lady is present." And "There are three things you never turn your back on; bears, men you have wronged, and a dominant male turkey during mating season."
For more Jordan Mileski goodness, be sure to follow her on any of these platforms…
Instagram | @jordan.mileski and @vandrabus
Facebook | jordan.e.mileski
YouTube | Nomad Creative
Pinterest | jordanmileski
Website | www.jordanmileski.com