Capturing life in the streets of Washington

For nearly 20 years, I’ve been a photo editor, spending my days assigning photographers; collaborating with editors, reporters and page designers; and choosing images for stories. The one thing my job does not entail is taking photographs, something I did every day for 15 years for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

But in 2016, my wife, Yuko, gave me a new Fujifilm X-T2 digital camera for Christmas and reawakened the photographer in me. I decided that from then on, I would take photos every day.

I started out by going for walks around Chinatown looking for interesting images. After doing this for a week, I felt like I was putting myself in a box by narrowly defining what a good photo was. I noticed that while I was on the hunt for a perfect picture, I was overlooking the energy and randomness of people on the street.

I decided to free myself up by going with the flow, reacting to how people encounter one another, their facial expressions, their body language.

I’m also drawn to the aesthetics of the city and how people move within its design. After doing this for a while, I noticed that I was compiling a body of work that celebrates how the mundane can be visually refreshing.

These days, I take photos whenever I am outside and post them on my Instagram account. Once I’m finished with my work at The Washington Post, I pretty much bound out the door with at least one camera, sometimes two, slung over my shoulder and walk for 30 minutes with the aim of taking at least one photo.

I try to get out in time to catch the nice early evening light. I also like the feel of the city at night, and I find that street photography in the rain makes for dramatic and moody images.

Robert Miller is the deputy director of photography at The Washington Post. You can find more Washington street photography on his Instagram (@rmillerphotoeditor).