Bodies inhabiting strong poses and near confrontational gazes. The sun creeping behind a model’s head, low angles, lengthened bodies. Glare as a stylistic device. Welcome to the sexy future crafted by one of Cape Town’s own fashion image auteurs.
Sivan Miller is a South African-born photographer from Cape Town who currently lives in and travels for work from New York. Growing up around Sea Point and Camps Bay he was inspired by his surroundings and started his photographic documentation of the area from the age of 16 as a hobbyist. Frequently skating about Cape Town, Sivan was endlessly influenced by new scenery that he would discover and later return to for the purpose of image creation. With no particular interest in doing photography professionally, he initially channelled his energies towards 3D Animation and VFX after school, aspiring to work in technology and art.
The self-taught photographer has come a long way since his early landscape images of Camps Bay and has been practising as an international fashion photographer for the past 12 years.
At the age of 16, Sivan was discovered by Oprah Winfrey with a photograph he took of Camps Bay and uploaded onto a free photo website. He explains that he believes this chance occurrence happened since Oprah has a school in South Africa and she was looking for images of the country. Oprah got in contact with Sivan and he received payment for the use of the image.
“It had no influence on my career in the fact that no one booked me anymore or any less because of this. It was more a serious motivation for myself, that led me to carry on. If it was good enough for Oprah, then I was good enough to continue on this path, I would tell myself.”
Sivan justifies his move from landscape work to fashion photography as one that arose due to the necessity of having to maintain a sustainable income. Describing his photographic style as futuristic with an editorial feel, Sivan states that emotion in his images and a connection with the people he photographs is key to his practice. Often shooting from low angles facing up towards the model, Sivan believes that shooting models from below bestows a sense that they are majestic.
The inspiration for a shoot is frequently sought from the clothing that will be photographed. “My ideas come from the garments I see. I love clothing and new style. I strive to create new work the whole time.”
Sivan started his career photographing new faces that have now levitated to top faces, such as Jaden Smith, Jocete Coote, Gigi Hadid and Maria Borgers. His ever-growing client list includes New York Fashion Week, Puma, The Oscars, The Grammy Awards, Mercedes Benz, ZARA Clothing, Vida E Caffe, Tashkaya, Soul Candy Records, VISI Magazine, MOT / Zone Models London, Karl Lagerfeld and Jockey SA, to name a few.
Sivan shares that his journey to becoming the accomplished photographer he is today came with incessant hard work, shooting for 12 years. He hopes to act as an inspiration for other photographers in realizing their own dreams and potential.
Sivan’s work is technically sound with composition and location choice strengthening the power of his images, as well as emphasizing the majestic and strong essence that is evoked by the models he photographs. Acting as an example of a photographer with no formal training Sivan worked hard to earn his merits and occupy the space he does in the industry today. His excellence should be a motivator for all photographers who dream of a similar future – it can be done clearly.