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A Different Lens

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

Family at Family Fest 2023

One of Mike Miller's photos capturing the fun at Family Fest 2023 in September.

Associate Professor of Philosophy Mike Miller, Ph.D., seeks philosophy in all areas of life. "We are all philosophers,” Miller observed. If philosophy is about expanding the knowledge of a subject, the philosopher must constantly explore the bounds of their interests. For Miller, one of the areas where he finds more than meets the eye is photography.

mike-miller-in-text-cit.jpgMiller has appreciated photography since he was a boy, when he recalls taking photos with his father’s 35-millimeter analog camera. He fondly remembers the process and the anticipation of developing them, unable to see his handiwork until days later.

Today he is known around Mount St. Mary’s and Frederick County for capturing the action of sporting events, the joy of school dances, and the natural beauty of people in portraits. From professional headshots to family weekends, to canoe battles, he has shot it all.

Walking through the halls of Knott Academic Center, students can glimpse photos of Babe Ruth in front of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Fred Carter laying up a basket, and Mother Teresa on the porch of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. The Mount has a rich history, and photos are a fundamental way to share its story. Miller is honored to be another chronicler.

“Honors brunches, Canoe Battleship…it is fun being a part of that. Photography is my way to get close to the action,” Miller said. When you take a photo, you have to consider what you are capturing. For a soccer game do you just want the ball and the foot, or do you also want the athlete’s face or the reaction on the sideline?”

His experience in photography, specifically photo editing with software such as Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, eventually led him to discover the world of animation. Ever the philosopher, ready to explore bounds, he thought, “If I can learn this, how far can I go?”

miller-first-person-philsophy.pngOn Miller’s last sabbatical, he pursued this question. He started a philosophy YouTube channel called “First Person Philosophy,” where he uploads videos based on hypothetical questions, such as, “What would a debate between Karl Marx and Elon Musk look like?” The videos feature characters animated by Miller, and voiceovers by colleagues and fellow philosophers. Miller animated one of his newest videos using artificial intelligence to depict 17th-century French philosopher Rene Descartes explaining his meditations while sitting beside a roaring fire.

In the spring of 2024, Miller will teach a course combining his animation prowess with his philosophical background, guiding his students in making their own philosophy videos. Synthesizing and sharing a story in a few minutes takes ingenuity, and Miller is excited to see what his students will create. Miller hopes his lessons will spark new passions in his students as they creatively spread their ideas.

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts