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Up-Close Shots Uncover Inner Beauty

June 24, 1989|ROBERT LACHMAN | Times Staff Writer

Photographer Susan Miles doesn't just look at nature, she examines it in fine detail. She takes an ordinary subject--flowers--and moves in close to give a view that most people just pass by.

Twenty-four of her 11-by-14-inch Cibachrome prints are on exhibit at Rizzoli International Bookstore & Gallery at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa until July 23.

Miles, 43, of Laguna Beach, became interested in photography by shooting pictures of her children. Next, she turned to pictures of neighbors and soon turned it into a business. Many of her pictures were black-and-white shots of children in natural settings.

After five years, she put her camera down and she moved with her husband to a small ranch in Oregon where she wanted to rear her children. They stayed there for 11 years.

It was after her daughter, Janice, died two years ago of heart disease at the age of 22 that they decided to move back to Orange County.

"We waited a year (after Janice died), then we decided we needed the change and the sunshine," she said. "The rain up there is fine if you're not sad.

"It was just a strange thing. My husband took a position down here and we were wrapping things up with our home up there. I drove down with him. While driving, I came up with the idea for the photographs and a book with the title, 'The Heart of the Flower.'

"It's going to be a book about the beauty of the flowers we don't see. It went together with Jan dying of heart disease. At her memorial service the minister said: 'She wore her beauty inside and out.' That's what we put on her marker at the cemetery. It was very true of her. It just fit together. It went together."

Miles has been shooting close-ups of flowers for the book since August. She learned to make Cibachrome prints at Saddleback College under the direction of teacher Jerry Burchfield. After the Costa Mesa exhibition her work will be displayed in three galleries in Portland, Ore.

Miles' 11-by-14-inch prints are museum matted and sell for $200. Her pictures were shot in a variety of places from her garden to local botanical gardens. The flowers include magnolias, irises, cactus flowers, orchids and nasturtiums.

"I want to capture the inner beauty," Miles said.

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