Meet Darren Milligan, member of the selection committee of eyephoneography

Five professionals from various backgrounds and profiles connected to the photography world but independent from it joined us when making the final image selection for the inaugural eyephoneography show.  They are so diverse that we decided to give them the floor to introduce themselves by replying to five questions.

Here we go with the first one…

Who are you?
Darren Milligan. I am a designer and director of digital media projects at the Center for Education and Museum Studies at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, USA. There I produce digital learning resources, manage social media initiatives, and direct websites including the two-time People’s Voice Webby-Award-winning digital portal for education at the Smithsonian. I serve as art director and producer of the Institution’s teacher magazine (Smithsonian in Your Classroom) and integrated online interactive IdeaLabs. In 2008, I also worked on the team that established the Smithsonian as one of the founding institutional members of the Flickr Commons.
I am a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the American Association of Museums Media and Technology Committee, and serve on various Smithsonian committees focused on education and web/new media strategies.
I am also an amateur photographer and manage the blog,, focusing on pre-photographic images of primates in western cultures.

Why did you accept to be a part of eyephoneography#1?
I am personally an avid mobile and traditional digital photographer and a consumer of both from many other photographers around the world, creating and administering groups and contributing my own photos to many more on sites like Flickr. Professionally, working within the perspective of an institution like the Smithsonian, one traditionally seen as a “voice of authority,” I am very interested in seeing mobile photography as a tangible expression of a change in the way we focus institutional practices, perhaps even a new ideal, one in which the community creates the validation. The act of sharing photos online and organizing into self-selected communities with other photographers, both professional and amateur, to share and comment on your own work and the work of others can be seen as profoundly revolutionary to the accepted museological methods. I am very excited to be part of this inaugural gallery show in Spain as it is a reflection of how this process is cycling back to influence the activities of traditional venues.

Which is your favorite image from each photographer and why?
Greg Schmigel, The Passing Beauty
Greg’s portraits represent what I see as the essence of street photography: characters defined by a few traits, summed up: just as we see and define all strangers when we pass them in the street. The Passing Fancy: a man, a woman, caught as she passes, on the way to another place. It’s a beautiful shot.

Marco La Civita, Sant’Eustachio, il caffè (americano)

Marco’s photos cross the line, blur the line between what we see and what we feel. The café chairs, the water of Sant’Eustachio, il caffè (americano) seem to turn the world and take what I once thought was mundane and give it a whole new life. The quality of this photograph is rich.

MissPixels, Eat Me

While some of Miss Pixels vividly saturated images made it to the top of my rankings, this one, in black and white, captures a moment, for me, that defines eyephoneography: fleeting, transitory, the framing is there, filled with mystery, and then gone. Eat Me, with its mysterious setting and juxtaposing of scale is sweet.

Sion Fullana, In the spotlight

Sion’s photographs make me feel like time has stopped. In the Spotlight shows a moment, a bit of magic when the light has aligned and the figure posing becomes something more: a monument. Brilliant composition.

How long have you known of mobile photography?
Photography, for me, has always been deeply involved in my own process of memory-making. An image of a moment or place from my past is a tool: a key to unlock the rich replay of that experience. I became aware of the power of mobile photography several years ago when I moved to Washington and looked for a method to document my explorations of a new city and to witness the ways that city would inevitably change me. In 2005, I began an informal mobile photography documentary project, not of the traditional views of the places that I visited, but rather of myself, removed from these public spaces and placed alone in brief moments of reflection. As I moved the photos from my mobile phone (or digital camera) to the Internet, these servicio auto-retratos ( became a way of sharing my experiences with others, surprisingly (at the beginning) with people from all parts of the globe. I soon found, on Flickr, other photographers documenting themselves in related projects and as we reviewed and shared feedback with each other, we formed a community.

Where do you think mobile photography is going?
The future of mobile photography lies not only in technological advances, but also in the growing volume of and ease of access to photographs available from the perspectives of so many diverse people. The ability for anyone anywhere with an Internet connection, even a simple mobile device, to see the world through the eyes of a child in Argentina or a mother in India, for example, can only have profound and unpredictable effects. Will those in affluent nations want to look out and see the realities of life for others around the world (from their own perspectives), or will the impulse be towards further isolationism? And what will the impact be on that mother in rural India as she compares her own life to that of a rural mother in America? Photography seems to be moving from a facilitator of visual memory, a recorder of what has passed, to a tool of instant global communication.

You can learn more about Darren via Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

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