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Seeing the best in people is photographer’s key asset

One of Sarah Miller's baby photographs.1 / 3
Sarah Miller2 / 3
Sarah Miller's twin nieces posed for this picture.3 / 3

BY Sarah smith

Sarah Miller took a unique path to her passion, but in hindsight, one that was more strategic than serendipitous.

The Park Rapids graduate, who’d carried a camera with her most of her life, took media classes and photography in college. But she wound up with a degree in Registered Nursing and studying psychology extensively.

The self-avowed “people person” decided to combine her passions into two professions that separately harnessed her yin and yang.

She told husband Ryan that she wanted to invest in a good camera after leaving a clinic nursing job.

“I promise you by next year I’ll pay it off,” she recalls telling him,

In 2010, Canon 60D in hand, she began booking photo sessions.

Whispering Willow Photography took off.

Two days a week she now uses her nursing skills at Pine Manors, a recovery center outside of Park Rapids. She loves that, too, being a detox nurse. She sees humans at their lowest and pulls for them to ascend to a better life.

She uses her camera to capture that slice of human behavior that personifies her subject, whether it’s a baby sleeping or a marriage.

She personifies a mantra of people rising to their zenith. And she has a front row seat.

“Anyone can take a picture,” she says. But she’s adept at using lighting to enhance her subjects and create a mood.

“My passion, I love newborns,” said the mom of two. “I love having the patience to get that perfect” shot.

And patience is her secret weapon, that and her psychology training.

Her boys, both pre-schoolers, were her first juvenile subjects.

“They were screaming kids that didn’t want their picture taken,” she recalled. “I was prepared for war.”

When she asked the eldest to hug his little brother, the result was a photo in which the little guy was being choked and screaming his head off.

Her tranquility won out. Photos of Tygan and Austin now show perfect little models.

“They’re little monkeys,” she clarifies.

She sees photography “as an incredible art form. They are their own piece of art,” she says of her subjects. “I am molding a piece of art. I feel incredibly blessed.”

She takes many photos outdoors to capture natural light. She decided against investing in backdrops, stands and lights.

She has seven weddings booked for this summer.

She said the key to good photography is getting to know your subject and what they want. She asks them to take a leap of faith with her, much like her nursing patients.

Her instincts are spot-on. The slide show of photos she keeps on her Mac PowerBook is a study in the best of human nature.

“I’m so excited to tell their stories,” she says, smiling at certain slides that bring a remembrance. She loves being a part of their lives, even a brief one. It’s always a happy time, capturing major milestones.

A perfectionist, she strives to do better.

“I wish I could capture what my eyes are seeing,” she said about the rare times she’s not packing a camera.

Sarah Guida was born into an artistic family brimming with promise. Her parents, Don and Lynette Guida, have created a subdivision of unique wood homes on the Fish Hook River, where Millers live. In the summers her parents run Jasper’s Jubilee Theater, where Sarah regularly performs.

Because the eyes are the windows to the soul, Sarah Miller’s photographs capture the eye. It is the focal point of her work.

She can be reached at or 255-1104.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364