Under The Influence? Don't Be...

Hey there internet…it’s me, BP.  Can we chat for a second?

Look, I get that you absolutely have some cool advantages, and you have somehow managed to invade everyone’s homes, minds, cars and phones 24/7. 

As a matter of fact, I love that it’s never been easier for me to order stuff I never knew I needed! Why just the other day I was talking to a friend about how this other person ended up being a total douchenozzle and then BAM…minutes later there was an ad for the Douchenozzle 9000 XL that was available, but only in limited quantity, so I’d better go buy it now.

BUT…that’s not why I wanted to talk to you.  I wanted to talk with you about the inappropriate relationship you have with soon to be married women, and how that’s affecting how us photographers shoot those weddings.

See, you have all these fancy websites…and those sites are chock full of other people’s weddings, and that’s cool when you’re looking for inspiration for decorations, or venues, entertainment, etc.

What’s not cool are all these photos of these dream weddings that people are finding on one particular site in general. See, when you post all of these amazing photos…my brides see them and then want me to recreate those shots for them.

I’m going to say that again slower.  My brides….want me to recreate someone else’s wedding photos…at their own wedding.

They want me to recreate a dreamy scene by the ocean, except we’re not shooting anywhere NEAR an ocean, much less one on the coast of California where the sun goes DOWN over the ocean, as opposed to here in Philadelphia where it comes up.

They want me to recreate this amazingly intricate scene that was SO photoshopped, that I am shocked it even gave an option to export as a .jpeg – it wasn’t even close to being a photo anymore.

Most recently, I had a bride that wanted me to recreate the exact ANGLE, LIGHTING, HAIR & MAKEUP for a shot.  Here’s the kicker…it was a screen grab from a movie.

Now look internet, I don’t want you to think this is all your fault.  It’s not.  In the era of Kardashian lifestyles and Instagram “Influencers” – it’s just as much our client’s fault, but you’re not helping.

First and foremost, I’m a photojournalist. We’ve been so busy trying to recreate a vision of someone else’s wedding at their OWN wedding…I’m not even sure we got anything that was unique to what should have been their own special day.

More times than not anymore, the first dances are SO choreographed in an attempt to be perfect, that we’re missing those intimate moments where the bride & groom’s eyes lock, the love explodes between them, and the entire room sees it firsthand.  Now we’re just getting these awkward first dances where they’re too busy counting off the steps that they hardly look at each other at all.


That seems to be extending now to the dances between bride/groom, bride/bride, groom/groom (you get the point), and their respective parental units. 

Once upon a time you would have a crying father or mother dancing with their child…looks of admiration and pure happiness replaced with dance routines from someone else’s wedding found on a video on YouTube titled “BRIDE KILLS WITH THIS EPIC DANCE ROUTINE WITH FATHER”.


What wasn’t noticed or perhaps ignored was that in the description section, it stated that both Father & Daughter were ballroom dancers and had years and years of experience between them.


People are trying so hard to recreate other people’s weddings that we’re missing all those special moments at their OWN wedding. 

Those moments that are unique to them.  Those moments that NO ONE ELSE can recreate, because they are fleeting moments.  We’re hired to find those moments.  To seek them out.  To wait for them in the shadows of the ballroom and make them a part of that family history.

Look internet, I get it. You have all kinds of shiny and amazing things.  You also have lots of dark corners that should probably not be discussed.  You know what I’m talking about.

I’m going to beg of you, and anyone else that’s reading this.  Can we try and be unique?  Can we try and stop being other people for a day? Can we go back to being the wonderful, amazing, unique people we are and stop trying to recreate a day meant strictly for someone else?

Now I’m speaking to you…the brides. Can we all agree that this day is YOURS? You’ve hired us, or another photography studio because you liked the story we told of someone else’s big day. 

Guess what, I NEVER put recreated photos up on our website.  Everything that’s posted are actual, genuine moments that tell the story of that particular day.

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I’m not saying don’t look at the internet for inspiration on hair, makeup, décor, etc. But there are so many things that go into making some of these images you share with us.  Be it a gorgeous sunset on a beach or a multi-million-dollar film that had at least 90 people making these two people look good with lighting and most likely a greenscreen on a soundstage.

You are amazing just as you are.  It’s ok to look for inspiration, but don’t be someone else on your big day.  Be yourself.

Oh look, the internet just told me there’s a BIG sale on “Inspiration: The Cologne” – but there’s only a few bottles left.  GOTTA GO!

Chorus Photography to Open New Studio and Meeting Space in Downtown Phoenixville Pennsylvania in July 2019

Working in close proximity with Mind Fire Creative at 10 N. Main Street in Phoenixville will bring new partnership opportunities for companies to incorporate true photojournalism into their brand identity and online presence

PHOENIXVILLE, Pennsylvania May 23, 2019 – Chorus Photography, an award-winning, bicoastal photography studio based in Philadelphia and San Francisco, is solidifying its presence in the community in which co-founders BP and Michele Miller reside.

“We’ve been looking for a place in downtown Phoenixville for some time now because it’s important for us to be a part of the town with which we’ve so closely aligned,” says BP Miller, Co-founder and President of Chorus Photography. “Chorus Photography has become very immersed within the Phoenixville professional and cultural scene, and we’ve watched many friends and business owners lay roots in this amazing town. We wanted to double down on our commitments by having a physical presence here as well.”

“Mind Fire Creative is excited to announce a new tenant to our building at 10 N. Main Street,” says Mind Fire Founding Partner, Bob Kropp. “Our long-time friend and business associate, BP Miller of Chorus Photography, will be moving a new office into the second floor loft. As Phoenixville continues to grow by leaps and bounds, the companies at 10 N. Main will strive to help small business here in town grow, and in turn, keep our community moving in the right direction. We have big plans for growth at 10 N. Main….stay tuned!”

“We’ve had a relationship with Mind Fire for many years,” Miller added. “So when this space presented itself, it was a no brainer to take advantage of it. It’s important for us to have a space conducive to executive portraiture, headshots, and meetings.”

Phoenixville continues to experience significant growth as one of the hottest growing towns in America, and touts a vibrant and collaborative business community. All of these factors, in addition to a walkable downtown, position Chorus Photography perfectly to continue to expand its footprint in suburban Philadelphia. There is a huge opportunity to help companies become better storytellers by leveraging the visual narrative skills of professional photojournalists.

“The Phoenixville community has long been home to talented and creative individuals, who work and draw inspiration from our beautiful town,” says the honorable Peter Urscheler, Mayor of Phoenixville. “We are so honored and fortunate that BP and his team from Chorus Photography have chosen to open up a physical location in Historic Downtown Phoenixville. BP has been an integral part of our vibrant business community for a number of years, offering his guidance and services to numerous community organizations. His talent for photography is beyond compare and I look forward to seeing the next chapter of Chorus Photography and Phoenixville through his stunning photographs.”

Chorus Photography’s distinctive approach to corporate photojournalism is driven by the knowledge that photography is paramount to brand identity and loyalty. Photography permeates every essential tactic in marketing, awareness, lead generation, social media and online presence. It creates the human connection required to establish familiarity, develop a bond, and instill trust in the desired audience.

"Chorus Photography has been providing amazing photography services to the Phoenixville area for many years, and has served so many non-profits and events,” says Jessica Capistrant, President and CEO of the Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We are thrilled to have them join the downtown business community and look forward to many more years of engagement with their team."

“We’ve been able to accomplish so much within the borough of Phoenixville without a physical presence,” says Miller. “We’re looking forward to what else is possible by establishing ourselves even further within our hometown.”

The Chorus Photography Studio opening at 10 N. Main Street in Phoenixville is scheduled for early July. More information coming soon.

About Chorus Photography

Chorus Photography is an award-winning photography studio founded by BP & Michele Miller, and based in suburban Philadelphia and northern California. Their client roster features both for profit and not-for-profit organizations including: 93.3 WMMR, The Preston & Steve Show, 102.9 WMGK, 95.7 BenFM, B101, DIA Global, The Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Habitat for Humanity, and many others. Co-founder & President BP Miller is an award-winning photographer, photojournalist and speaker whose work has been published in both local and national publications like The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, Rolling Stone & The New York Times. Subjects in front of his lens include local families and businesses, as well as national and international celebrities, politicians, and dignitaries. BP is the former Mid-Atlantic Chair of the National Press Photographers Association and a former board member of the Northern Short Course In Photojournalism. He can be found speaking across the country about non-profit photography as well as photojournalists' rights.

Breaking Up (Isn't) Hard To Do

“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford”

Let me begin by saying the opinions and experience being shared within this article come from my perspective as both a customer and a business owner.

I am a brand loyal person.  I always have been. 

My first camera at age 11 was a Canon.  Guess what brand I still shoot with?

My first car was Honda…and I’ll say that about 10 out of the 15 cars I’ve had were either Honda or Acura.

And when it came to hotels, I was a Marriott guy. I LOVED Marriott properties.  My aunt had a makeup shop for years at the Marriott on City Line Avenue here in Philadelphia.  I remember the arcade they had set up there for kids on the second floor. I was hooked on Marriott from that point.  My favorite Marriott property hands down is the San Francisco Airport Waterfront.  It was the first property I’d stayed at that had one of the new M Lounges.  The view was great (and as a photojournalist, being able to photograph planes landing and taking off at the same time was fantastic), and the staff was friendly.


I was a proud Marriott guy…until last week.

In the last year or so…Marriott has been making a lot of changes to their Member Rewards program.  Taking more and more perks away, giving you less and less bang for your buck.  The typical corporate BS that you hear more and more about.  And granted, I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to, and I’m nowhere NEAR as much of a traveler as my friends Ray or Chris…both Platinum for Life rewards members. But, when I travel and pay for it on my own dime, it’s been Marriott.  Always.

For people who travel for work, and spend long periods of time away from home and family, it’s not about the rewards level as much as it is the perks that go along with it.  Those little perks can go a long way to help you keep a better mental outlook.  Those upper rewards level perks mean you can generally grab a cup of coffee in the concierge lounge long after the Starbucks in the lobby closes.  It means you can take your client to the M Lounge for a quiet talk when you don’t want to yell just to hear yourself over the din of the lobby bar.  It gives you a slice of normalcy while you’re away from home. If you travel, you get it.

So back in the spring when my wife was traveling for work, she called me and said we’d been downgraded from Gold status to Silver.  It was the first I was hearing about it.  We were given no heads up, and I was a little miffed.  I knew we hadn’t been traveling as much for work in the eight months leading up to that time, but I also knew our status wasn’t due to reset when it did.  After talking on the phone with people at Marriott customer service, they told me there was some kind of Gold Elite challenge, and if we stayed six more nights before the end of June (this was in early April) – they’d bring us back up to Gold Status.  Knowing I had a week’s stay at a property in Boston in June, and with my wife’s schedule…we’d easily do that.  I wasn’t thrilled we got bumped, but…they at least made it easy enough for us to get back up to where we’ve been for the last 2 or 3 years.

I never gave it another thought until this past week when my wife and I were making plans for a LONG overdue vacation.  In the last year we’ve lost friends and her mother to cancer. We’ve been working our asses off and decided it was time to spoil ourselves a little.  We’d talked about going to Hawaii last year, but with her mother getting progressively sick, we pushed.  After assessing what we’d put away to take a once in a lifetime trip for ourselves…we booked our vacation.

First thing to do was secure our reservations at the Marriott properties where we wanted to stay.  We were going to spend 8 nights in Maui, and 4 nights in Kauai.  Everything was booked, deposits paid.  I logged on to our Marriott account page to confirm a couple of things, and that’s when I saw it.

We were still at Silver level. Not only were we still at Silver Level, but we were was missing about a week’s worth of stays.

So, off to Marriott I call to find out what’s going on.  I end up on the phone with Jose from Member Rewards.  Jose was…let’s just say, unhelpful. He proceeds to tell me that the challenge wasn’t six nights, but six STAYS!


What the hell is the difference between six nights and stays?  Beyond that, I confirmed with the woman three times back in the Spring that it was, indeed, six nights.

I was livid.  I felt like I was just taken in on a bait & switch at a used car dealer.

So, naturally I asked to speak with a supervisor.  Jose proceeded to tell me he WAS the supervisor.  I informed him that I’m guessing there’s someone above him.  I also stated that I was not asking for anything more than what they had already promised.  A brand promise is still a thing, right? Next thing I know, I’m on hold waiting to talk to someone at “Elite” member services.  The last thing Jose said to me as he put me on hold was, “Now, don’t hang up.”

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So, I waited on hold.

5 minutes….10 minutes…20 minutes…30 minutes.

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I knew what kind of game he was playing, and I had all day…so I waited and started a Twitter thread, constantly dinging both Marriott and Marriott Rewards. I eventually tagged Hyatt as well, seeing if they were interested in our business.

“It’s hard to have a relationship with 30k people in a field, but we try. And they feel things. There is emotion there” - Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden

Hyatt responded within 10 minutes…WHILE I was still on hold with Marriott, and while Marriott’s own social media team hadn’t found the time to answer me back.

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Finally, Antonio from “Elite Member blah blah blah” gets on the phone, and acts like he doesn’t know anything about why I’m calling.  Which was suspect, considering he parroted some things back to me that gave away his hand.  But ok…I’ll play along because I still have some level of confidence that they will uphold their promise to us as long-standing Rewards members.  After about five minutes, I asked him a very simple question.  If it’s “impossible” to move us back to the level where we rightfully belonged, how would Marriott feel about losing a large amount of money from one customer all at once?

We’re talking about two weeks at two properties on our vacation before spending a single dollar on food, drinks, etc. That’s not taking into account other business stays we have scheduled between now and the end of the year.  So, let’s round that off to about five figures between Q4 and the beginning of Q1, 2019.

Was Marriott really willing to lose that level of investment from a single customer because, “We said stays, not nights”?

It would seem they were.

While our money isn’t a lot to a corporate entity that measures success in millions if not billions, let’s start to add up how much money we’ve spent at Marriott properties in the last 15 years. Then let’s add up how much money we WOULD have spent at Marriott properties over the NEXT 15 years.

See, Jose & Antonio are not the problem. They are directed to stick to the provided script. And rather than bring in someone above them and say, “Hey…this guy is legitimately pissed off, and is about to pull their reservations…what can we do?” They just stick to the script and get frustrated and rude when you won’t take what’s written as the final answer.

I asked once, “Antonio, I just want to make sure you’re ok with losing this much money in a single phone call?”

Antonio didn’t have much to say.

“Are you sure there’s NOTHING you can do to keep our business?”

He couldn’t even find us an upgrade.

So guess what I did? I reached out to our travel agent. I asked her to send us all the Hyatt Properties on the two islands we’re visiting.  I talked to Jessica at Hyatt Guest Care support.  Jessica has been kind, courteous and super helpful in helping us get started with THEIR Rewards program.  Including starting us at their Gold level (Explorist) based off of our NEW reservations at their two Hawaiian properties and the current points we have with Marriott.

My perception as a customer? Hyatt wants our business more than Marriott does, regardless of our longevity, loyalty, or brand ambassadorship.  Marriott owns so many hotel chains that they don’t care that they’ve lost one long-standing customer who was brand loyal to a fault.

Will Hyatt mess up down the line?  Probably.  As business owners, we all do.  The difference is knowing and realizing when you have a longstanding customer, and what you’re willing to do to keep that type of loyalty.

We recently purchased a gas fire table for our deck from Wayfair. Not a major purchase, but not a tiny purchase either. We received a Thank You post card in the mail. No solicitation, just thanking us for our business. Completely unexpected, and very much appreciated.

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Friends of ours lost their dog recently. They are Chewy customers and had their dog food set up for auto-ship before she passed. They reached out to Chewy to see if they could return the latest shipment. Not only did Chewy give them a refund, they encouraged them to donate the food to a local shelter, sent two sympathy emails, AND sent flowers. Chewy took the business-customer relationship, and made it personal.

In this day and age, brand loyalty is PARAMOUNT in keeping good business relationships no matter how large or small the customer is.  Small things go a long way and don’t need to erode the bottom line to be both impactful and memorable.  Making customers feel like their business and support of the brand is appreciated will take you SO much further than saying “I can’t”, “I won’t”, or “Well, we said six stays, not six nights. You obviously misunderstood.”

Oh no, Marriott…It’s you that misunderstood.  And because of that, you lost a substantial chunk of immediate money and countless dollars that have yet to be spent. Worse than that…you lost a loyal customer.

Or as you might say, “You’ve been downgraded from Gold Elite Status.”

Hi...I'm BP Miller, and I'm a Photojournalist

About 9 months ago, I put a little post-it note on the top of my computer screen.  It simply said:

“write article about going places without your camera”

Problem is…I seldom leave the house without at least A camera.

When I write…I must be inspired to write.  It’s one of the reasons I don’t post personal blogs very often.  If I FORCE myself to write an article or a blog post, I find it turns into a train wreck.

The post-it sat there for about 2 months until I got annoyed looking at it, and then I wrote the same idea to myself in an email (a way I tend to remind myself of things), where it continued to sit for even more months.

Then my mother-in-law passed away in January, and everything stopped.  No work, no social time with friends…just supportive husband mode.  It was during the events surrounding the funeral that I had an ill-timed epiphany on why I never wrote the article.  It was because I sadly needed an event like this to write it with authority.  To HAVE that experience of being forced to leave my camera behind.

Frannie (my mother-in-law) had been dealing with her cancer struggles for 5.5 years.  We knew the end was coming, and in the end, it came quickly. 

There were times during those last visits to the hospital that my mind would just NOT…SHUT…UP!

While the family was standing around the hospital bed, all I could think about was how the shot would be framed and how this is a story to be told.  I know it sounds heartless, but believe me when I tell you…it’s just where my head went. I’m not proud of it, mind you…but without the help of pharmaceuticals, it’s where my mind just automatically goes.

I was always close with Fran.  She was “Mom” when my own mother was still alive, and fully took up the mantle of “Mom” when my own mother passed nine years ago.  I know plenty of men out there who can’t stand their in-laws.  I was lucky enough to marry a woman whose own family has always treated me as one of their own.  I think that’s why I couldn’t shake the mindset I was in…because this was part of a story, it just so happened to be part of mine.

Needless to say, I did NOT take that particular photo. 

Fast forward two weeks to the family visitation and funeral.  I did NOT bring my camera with me (it was more of an internal struggle than I’d thought it would be). And, we had 4 hours of family visitation over a period of 12 hours and then the funeral itself.  Anyone who’s gone through this knows the routine and how weird it can be when the line stops moving…it’s just this awkward moment of staring at someone you’ll never see again in your life.  But of course, I’m staring at the facial features, figuring out how to light them and so on.  I tried to block those thoughts out of my head, but let’s face it…that just made it worse.

During the evening of the first visitation, the family (18 in all), were waiting for the first visitors to arrive.  I could only do so much to help out, so I stayed off to the side and do what I always do.  I watched people.  I saw shot after shot after shot pass in front of me…feeling helpless and frustrated without my moment-capturing appendage.  I couldn’t do much other than to be a comfort to the family…but I could do this, damnit!  This is my superpower.  Find a fleeting moment in time and tell the story that surrounds it.

It really is the only thing I’m good at.  Take that away from me and I feel like Samson after his hair was cut.

Tom (my father-in-law), was sitting alone, near the box that contained Fran’s ashes.  He was obviously trying to psych himself up about meeting all these people that were about to file in.  I broke.  With the large church serving as the background of this very sad scene…I pulled my iPhone from my suit pocket and started to frame the shot without being obvious.  At that very moment, my wife happened over to sit down and check on him.


            My wife Michele talks with her father Tom shortly before guests arrive to pay their respects to his wife Frannie, who had passed away on January 16th, 2018.

            My wife Michele talks with her father Tom shortly before guests arrive to pay their respects to his wife Frannie, who had passed away on January 16th, 2018.

At once, I felt both pride and shame in myself.  I couldn’t stop myself from making that picture.  I stole from them a moment that wasn’t supposed to be seen by anyone other than those family members surrounding them.  A child trying to be emotionally supportive of a grieving parent. It’s a shot any of us would have taken had we been on the clock.

But at the same time, I made a picture that I knew both my wife and my father-in-law would be ok with me making.  I knew this image would speak to them both.  The baby of the family; the youngest of five children, supporting her father with love and compassion.  Frannie & Tom had always been two of my biggest supporters, pimping both me and our services out to anyone who would listen, and hanging a lot of my work in their home.  They’d both understand, as would my wife.

As a person though, I still felt badly about making it.  It bothers me that I can’t shut my mind off to events like this.  That I can’t stop looking at life through my viewfinder eyes.

Photojournalists don’t have 9-to-5 jobs.  When we’re off the clock, we’re not REALLY off the clock.  Our minds are always looking at the world and inadvertently trying to figure out how to frame what we’re seeing.

I always think of the meme involving a photographer, his significant other and the sunset.



We just can’t shut our minds off…it’s not just simply what we do, it’s who we are.  It’s as much a part of our DNA as anything that’s formed naturally.  Every single one of us were CALLED to this profession.

I’m not proud of what I did, but at the same time…it IS what we do.  We regularly interrupt these moments of solace and grief of other families in the name of news.  It’s what we get paid to do.

But it still sucks that I can’t shake this feeling that I’ve done something wrong, even though everyone in the family liked the picture.

I have a hard time leaving the house without a camera…I have a hard time looking at that image and wondering if I made the right decision in that moment. I have a hard time knowing that for the rest of my days on this Earth…I can’t just enjoy a sunset, or be there fully for my wife during a time of great sorrow without seeing an internal meter pop up in my head.

Hi. I’m BP Miller, and I’m a photojournalist.