When Bethan Miller picked up her first professional camera at the age of 16, she didn’t know it would lead her into a world of touring with rock bands or getting her work published in her childhood favourite rock music magazine, Kerrang! Now a successful music photographer with her own studio in Cardiff, Bethan was one of four music industry experts, alongside BBC presenter Matt Everitt asked to join a Q&A panel exploring the role of a music journalist during the 2022 BBC 6 Music Festival.
As a young girl Bethan wanted to be in a band but quickly found that becoming a musician was not for her. Inspired by an eye-opening conversation with a music photographer she’d often see at gigs, Beth turned in her guitar for her passion of photography. “I saved up all my money and bought a DLSR camera from a shop in Cardiff and literally started going to shows and taking pictures which looking back now were pretty awful, but I was meeting people and getting to see my favourite bands”. Beth went from shooting at small gigs to bigger events with her photos being distributed around mainstream media and blogs.
Surprisingly, Bethan did not study photography at university. Unsure she could make photography a career she instead studied Music Business at USW, “I wanted to diversify my skills, my course taught me a lot about marketing, management and how labels work. I’m glad I did it, it helped me grow as a person”. Her advice to other aspiring photographers in university is to utilise the university’s resources and importantly collaborate with students from other courses. She adds, “just get out there and take photos. Make sure you network and meet people along the way. I now freelance or the some of the gig venues I started out at, all those connections I made back then still know me now and have watched me evolve”.
Influenced by photographers such as the likes of Ashley Osbourne and Matty Vogel, Bethan has been fortunate to have her work published in music heavy weight magazines, Kerrang! and Rocksound, amongst many more.
“Last year I did a feature for the (Rocksound) magazine with Holding Absence which included a mini magazine with photos I had taken from behind the scenes of them recording their album - ‘The Greatest Mistake of my Life’ ”.
When not out and about capturing moments through her lens at major music events, you can find Bethan working at her own photography studio ‘Citrus Studio’ which has recently moved to Charles Street in the centre of Cardiff. It’s open to rent to other photographers and creatives, Beth is more than happy to share her self taught studio photography gems.
“The whole idea was to make the space as affordable as possible, there are no egos… if you want to learn about photography you can come in and I’ll be happy to help”.
Just like most of us around the world, the last two years have not been easy. The Coronavirus pandemic affected both Beth’s career and business.
“I was set to go into what was supposed to be the best time of my life, I was supposed to be heading on tour with Holding Absence to document the release of their new album across Australia, America and Mainland Europe. All that came to a stop due to the pandemic. It was tough to stay motivated, I also had a studio to pay rent for, which I didn’t get a reduction on. The government grants could only take me so far so I had to think of ways of generating revenue. I started doing small print packs in collaboration with bands I had previously worked with. I was lucky to get offered some work taking photos for a mental health organisation, Heads Above The Waves, which led onto me doing some other work for them”. As the pandemic kept us in lockdown away from loved ones and family, Beth challenged herself to stay creatively motivated. “I started doing window portraits where I would cycle or walked past friends’ streets. I would stop and take photos of them through the window”.
Having accomplished so much in a small amount of time, one wonders what is next in store for the brand that is Bethan Miller.
“I have always wanted to tour with a female artist, I loved Paramore growing up so I would love to work with someone like Hayley Williams, she’s an absolute icon in the rock world”. Just like any creative artist Bethan would like her work to leave a legacy of consistency, “I want people to look at my work and know that it’s my work. I want my work to always be a reflection of me”.