Peter Miller Captures Vermont Life
Which is why he’s visiting David Budbill; he wants to include Budbill in the new book. He’s just not sure what form that will take. Dressed in khakis and an untucked white button-down shirt, with a beige baseball cap perched atop a full head of white hair, Miller pushes up the driveway, yet the uncertainty still lingers.
“What am I going to do?” he says to himself again as he pulls into Budbill’s property, a pleasant spot, with lawn and gardens and a house David and his wife, the painter Lois Eby, built in 1971. Budbill bounds out the front door, greets Miller, and then leads him inside, where the two men take seats around the kitchen table.
“So, what I want to do is talk to you,” says Miller, unveiling a yellow notepad and a digital recorder from his bag. “Ask you some questions and then photograph you.”
And so he does. Over the next hour the conversation touches on several different subjects, from the state of poetry to the new back-to-the-land movement to Budbill’s own migration to Vermont from his native Cleveland in 1969. Then the two men head back outside, where Miller, who hates shooting in direct sunlight, parks Budbill at the foot of an old apple tree in the front yard and begins photographing.
Working with two cameras, including an old Nikon film camera, hanging around his neck, Miller works efficiently and with a limber body that doesn’t betray his age. He shoots low, getting down at ground level with Budbill, then moves swiftly to a standing position for a different angle. Every frame brings a new opportunity for Miller–a chance to see in a new way a world he’s been looking at for a long time. “Hey, neat,” he says, peering through a long lens as he squares up a tight shot. When it’s over, Miller climbs back in his car and retraces the same familiar dirt road back home.
“I like my work,” he says. “When I finish a piece like that, I think, Wow, I learned a lot. That was interesting. I had a good interview with Budbill today, and I think the picture is going to be okay.”