Alumna Spotlight: Jamie Miles

Photography grad excels at concert and band photography

When Jamie Miles started in the Photography program at Dakota County Technical College, digital photography was just going mainstream. Like her classmates, Jamie was a film photographer with a knack for burning through countless rolls of film.

“I spent a fortune at one-hour photo shops,” she recalled, “but I was still skeptical of digital cameras.”

Jamie quickly outgrew her misgivings and today she’s an accomplished professional photographer with her own business and an impressive digital portfolio. Her specialty is concert and band photography and she’s built up a solid reputation in the country music world.

Her list of concert shoots includes Garth Brooks, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Eric Church, Kristian Bush, Sam Hunt, Brett Eldridge, Erin & Madison, Dustin Lynch, Randy Houser, Frankie Ballard, The Swon Brothers, Trace Atkins, CAM, Kat Perkins, Travis Tritt, Thompson Square and many more.

“I’ve always liked watching bands perform live,” Jamie said. “I attended my first concert at age 14 and brought the first camera I ever owned with me. I was hooked on music and photography from that moment on.”

To learn more about the photography of Jamie Miles, visit her website:

Xpressive Images by Jamie

Or follow Xpressive Images by Jamie on Facebook.

Blake Shelton at CMA Fest 2017

Blake Shelton at CMA Fest 2017

Jamie’s break came in 2011 when she went to watch Hitchville perform at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in St. Louis Park. She asked if she could take some performance photos. The band accepted her offer and they were delighted when they saw the shots. News of her talent spread via word of mouth and Jamie was soon making connections with other bands and performers.

She went on to shoot numerous major events, including WE Fest, the CMT Music Awards, the Minnesota State Fair, Country Fest, Rockwoods Jam Fest and most recently CMA Fest 2017 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I’m ready to travel just about anywhere for a shoot,” said Jamie, who was the first official photographer for Ramble Jam in Farmington, Minnesota. “People tell me I should move to Nashville, but I would miss my niece and nephew too much.”

More about Jamie…

Jamie grew up in Apple Valley, Minnesota, and graduated from AVHS in the Class of 1994. She attended Normandale Community College with the idea to earn a degree that could get her started in the hospitality industry. She wasn’t happy with her decision and eventually followed the advice of her mom, who told her to follow her passion and find a college-level photography program.

She found a home at DCTC and liked how the college’s Photography program was an effective blend of classroom and hands-on learning. “The program gave me a strong foundation in both the artistic and technical side of photography,” Jamie said. “My instructors had everything covered. Darrell Tangen is a great teacher and I really enjoyed the North Shore Photography Workshop.”

Xpressive Images by Jamie also does wedding, portrait and sports photography. In 2017, she covered the World’s Toughest Rodeo at the Xcel Energy Center.

Jamie worked full-time as a restaurant manager while going to DCTC. She also worked on the student newspaper and photographed Blue Knights NJCAA games. She earned her A.A.S. in Photography in 2004.

“Starting and running your own business isn’t easy,” she said, “and concert photography can present some difficult logistical and lighting conditions. But I like the challenge. I love seeing the expressions on the faces of local bands when I show them their live shots for the first time. I’m happy when they share the photos on social media.”

Jamie resides in Burnsville, Minnesota. In her free time, she works as a DJ—and she goes to concerts every chance she gets. Country is her favorite musical genre, but she’s open to all kinds of music. She has a one brother, Jeremy, who gave her one nephew, Damian, and one niece, Emmalee. She has two stepbrothers who live in South Dakota.

Jamie shot the cover photo for the new Blackjack Billy album:

Blackjack Billy: Show Out

Jamie Miles Q & A

What is the most daunting aspect of professional photography?
Making it a full-time gig.

What is the most rewarding aspect of professional photography?
The response I get from the bands and knowing they appreciate my work. I like when performers recognize me and give me full access to their concerts. The publicist for Craig Campbell told me the photos I took of Craig were the best he had ever seen. I’ve covered the Craig Campbell Celebrity Cornhole Challenge three years in a row.

What’s the most amazing thing that’s happened on a shoot?
Kristian Bush [Billy Pilgrim, Sugarland] recognized me at CMA Fest 2016. I had first met Kristian at his concert at Grand Casino Hinckley after submitting some photos and a link to my website to his manager, who asked me to shoot the entire Grand Casino show. At CMA Fest, Kristian invited me backstage and played some new songs no one had heard yet. He told me he was happy to see me following my dreams. He told me to never give up—and that’s my motto now.

What would you tell someone thinking about following your career path?
Do it because you love it and not for the money.

What would you tell someone who’s thinking about starting a business?
Learn everything you can about small business management. Nobody really tells you anything. You have to learn a lot on your own.

Three words that describe you as a photographer:

 Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini at CMA Fest 2017

Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini CMA Fest 2017

What’s the one thing every photographer should know?
You’re always learning and you have to keep going no matter what.

Person who has influenced your life the most:
My mom. She’s a bartender and a single mom and she’s strong.

What’s the best photo you’ve ever taken?
The one of my brother, Jeremy, with his newborn boy, Damian, when he reached out and touched his son’s hand for the first time.

Greatest challenge so far:
Getting out of my comfort zone. I’m pretty shy and I don’t talk much. I’ve found that I can let my work speak for itself and I’m always polite on a shoot. Some photographers can be pushy and rude. I always ask first before I go anywhere on a shoot.

Greatest achievement so far:
Making that connection with Kristian Bush.

Xpressive Images by Jamie gallery

Jamie Miles | 21 Answers

Jamie Miles

Jamie Miles

  1. Fall colorsFavorite season: Fall
  2. Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Atlantic Ocean off Florida
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Softball
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Bald eagle
  5. Place you would most like to visit: Africa—Gorillas in the Mist inspired me to go.
  6. Favorite holiday: Christmas
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: Bengal tiger
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Richard Gere
  9. Bengal tigerFavorite band or performing artist: Rascal Flatts
  10. Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Never give up.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: The power of love! Love heals, love protects and love teaches.
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Dying
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: Nashville
  14. Favorite all-time movie: Dirty Dancing
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Love
  16. Most precious material possession: Printed photos
  17. Rascal FlattsFirst thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: Buy a house for my mom.
  18. Dream occupation: Tour photographer
  19. Person you would most like to meet: Garth Brooks—I’ve always wanted to meet him. I won a meet-and-greet with him, but when they texted me the time, my phone was getting no service so I missed out. But I did get to hand him a note when he was onstage at the HGTV Lodge. He smiled and put the note in his back pocket. I recorded the moment on my phone.
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Drums
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Equality and getting along
To learn more about Photographic Imaging Technology at DCTC, contact:

Darrell Tangen
Photographic Imaging Technology Faculty

Peter Latner
Photographic Imaging Technology Faculty

Click image below to watch video of Garth Brooks accepting Jamie’s note…

Garth Brooks