The Ethereal Travel Poster Art
A decade ago Andrew Miller was at what most would consider the pinnacle of his career as a snowboard photographer. He was a senior staff photographer for Transworld Snowboarding, travelled on big expeditions with athletes like Jeremy Jones and shot poster-worthy images for some of the biggest brands in snowboarding. Miller was and still is, legitimately, one of the most recognized and respected photographers in the snowboard world.
But the media landscape has changed in the last decade, and Miller, now 36, has also evolved. Print magazines like Transworld Snowboarding and Snowboarder ceased publication in 2019 and 2020, respectively, usurped by digital content and social media. Marketing and film budgets got slashed in the wake of the pandemic — gone are the days of all-expense-paid heli trips to Alaska. So, Miller had to shift.
These days, instead of jet-setting to snowy locales and landing magazine covers, he’s the in-house photographer for Jones Snowboards — a stable job with benefits and desk work — and he’s shooting more photos inbounds at his local hill of Mammoth Mountain, California so that he can stay closer to home and his family.
“I’m super fortunate. I’ve been able to carve out a good living doing what I love, and I’m in this phase of my life where I’m shooting more quality over quantity,” he says. “I only work with brands I align with, and I’ve found this new creative outlet where I’m shooting at the mountain, figuring out how to capture an amazing powder day on a crowded Saturday at the resort, where we’re able to go and create usable images at the end of the day.”
On a recent early-season storm day at Mammoth, Miller was riding with snowboarders Forrest Shearer and Marcus Cassidy when he shot this image that looks like it’s from an opening scene of Star Wars, with the athletes riding into a dark and ominous vortex. It’s a stunningly simple photo that captures the beauty and wildness of riding in a storm. It ended up being Miller’s most liked image on Instagram, despite his social feed being dotted with legendary photos from across the globe.
Miller got into photography when he was around 20 years old. He was living in Mammoth and competing in snowboard slopestyle contests when he blew out his knee. “I happened to have a decent camera, and I still wanted to be on a slope, so while rehabbing my ACL and meniscus, I started shooting my friends in the park,” Miller says. “That was when I realized how much I enjoyed photography.”
He sold his first photo for $50 to a snowboard shop in Mammoth to be used in a print catalogue. That, of course, didn’t pay the rent, so Miller, who had been certified as a hospital lab assistant, was working for $25 an hour at the Mammoth hospital, drawing blood and running tests. “That’s how I was able to sustain myself and buy new camera equipment,” he says.
The photography hustle was going well, however. Miller got a gig working for a website called Snowboard Revolution, covering and shooting images of the major snowboard contests of the mid-2000s, from X Games to the U.S. Open to the Vans Triple Crown. He moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2012 and got introduced to the backcountry and splitboarding. “I realized I didn’t love shooting contests and that there was this world where I could control what I wanted to shoot, and I could ride powder,” he says.
In 2012, Miller got invited to Chile with pro snowboarders Jeremy Jones, Forrest Shearer, and Alex Yoder, a photo trip for Jones Snowboards — which was starting at the time — and Patagonia. He returned from that trip with some incredible photos and a solid relationship with Jeremy Jones.
Miller hadn’t quit his day job just yet. Not long after, he happened to be in scrubs in the hospital cafeteria in Salt Lake City when he got a call from Jones inviting him on a 40-day expedition to Nepal, where he was filming Higher, the third and final part of Jones’ Teton Gravity Research trilogy, Deeper, Further, Higher. “I remember calling my dad and saying, ‘Should I go?’” Miller recalls. “My dad happened to have this fascination with Everest and mountaineering, so he was like, ‘Yes, you should absolutely go. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
His dad was right. In September 2013, Miller spent over a month in the Khumbu region of Nepal, living in high-altitude camps and finally, after three weeks of waiting for a weather window, he shot what turned out to be a cover image for Transworld Snowboarding of Jones riding the absurdly steep line he set out to do, from a barbie angle at 19,000 feet. “That was the climax of Jeremy’s movie trilogy, and it was the kicking-off point of my career,” says Miller, who quit his hospital job soon after the expedition.
Miller, his wife and their young daughter moved back to the Mammoth area several years ago. They live a quiet life on an acre of land south of town, and Miller tries not to travel for work so much anymore. It’s a stark contrast to his former life, but it’s one he couldn’t be happier about. “I’ve been utilizing the backyard — trying to shoot at home and get creative,” Miller says. “I’ve been leaning into coming back to Mammoth with a ton more experience but looking at everything with a fresh set of eyes.”