My series “Morning Bus,” portraits of children waiting for the morning bus in our small semi-rural town in Northeastern Connecticut, is motivated by the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown — about an hour from my home. My own daughter, enrolled in first grade at our local elementary school at the time, was the same age as the victims when the shooting occurred in December 2012. Disturbed by the shooting but also the subsequent gun control debate that ensued in the aftermath, I connected the innocence of our local children waiting for the morning bus with the vulnerability and powerlessness I felt for the victims, the parents of the victims, my own daughters and indeed for my wife and myself as parents and citizens. Our modern day recurring mass shootings have brought into stark relief that moment of “see you later” or “bye-bye” when we step out to go to school or to the movies assuming that we really will see each other later.
As my daughter and I go our separate ways each morning, I see her with her pink and purple sparkly backpack, hairclips and boots. She goes to school, and I go to work. For me to be able to part ways with her, I have to somehow believe, in spite of what I read in the morning paper, that things are going to be fine. And like so many other parents, I am able to do this and even lose myself in my work during the day, and almost forget about her. Almost.
There is a whole lifetime of childhood experience that happens between 9 am and 3 pm that a parent does not see. A lifetime that begins at the end of our driveway. That spot where the school bus stops is a membrane between home and the rest of the world. Children and teenagers stand out there vulnerable, brave, trusting that they are safe. Trusting that we cherish life itself.
Greg Miller has been a New York based fine art, magazine and advertising photographer since 1988. Miller is the recipient of a 2008 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and his work has been included in several solo shows in Los Angeles, Barcelona and the Cheekwood Museum in Nashville, TN. His work has been included in several group shows in New York City, including Yossi Milo, James Danziger and Sasha Wolf Galleries. His work has appeared in over 100 publications and advertisements including TIME, Fast Company, GQ, Esquire, People, Fortune and the Truth Campaign. He has been on the faculty of the International Center of Photography in New York since 1999. He also regularly conducts workshops at Maine Media and the Los Angeles Center of Photography. Miller received a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in 1990. He presently lives in Connecticut with his wife and two daughters.