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By the Way: A camera between heart and hand


Like all true artists, fine arts photographer Miana Jun treasures her tools.

She loves her digital camera. It’s a Canon 5D Mark IV. She loves the weight of it in her hand. She loves the fine arts paper on which her work is printed.

Although she says she was “trained on film,” she welcomes all that technology can offer. “I want the camera to do what I want it to do – be a connection between heart and hand,” she said.

And it’s that connection, particularly in regards to motion and emotion, that makes her work so sensitive and so unique – whether capturing portraits or candid shots of bride and groom against the natural beauty of Bucks County, photographing children or dancers or portraying the reality of surgical scars.

Half-Austrian, half-Puerto Rican, the prize-winning photographer grew up in Manhattan and has lived and worked in Brooklyn but is now based in Springfield Township, although her career often takes her wherever her special talents are required. She loves to travel so that’s a special perk.

She and her husband, Anthony LaSala, who is a photo editor at Healthline Media and an author, share a hillside home fairly engulfed in the dramatic beauty of the Durham Hills. They both work at home in a 300-year-old house. “It’s one of the oldest around here,” Miana said, as light poured through the large windows of a newer addition.

Miana does her share of work in Bucks and in New York, but she also has photographed weddings in Barcelona, Rhode Island and Martha’s Vineyard. Particularly fond of outdoor weddings, she captures not just candid photos but the emotions of the moment, the magic of the couple’s love, the ceremony, the excitement of the attendants, the natural background.

“It makes me happy to be around happy people,” she said. She is listed as a photographer with both the Michener Art Museum and Durham Springs Culinary Event Center.

She also does portraits, magazine work, takes photos at social and corporate events and has even illustrated a cookbook during her 20-year career.

Perhaps most meaningful to her, though, are her special projects.

Photographs she made during a month-long residency program at Everglades National Park are now on exhibit at the Historymiami Museum in Florida. She collaborated on the project with choreographer Dale Andree, director of National Water Dance, who has harnessed the power of dance to focus attention and energy on water resources.

It was an experience that fit in perfectly with Miana’s education. She studied photography at Prescott College in Arizona, where she designed her own major in performance motion. “I have a dancer’s spirit,” she said with a smile.

Another of Miana’s projects involving dance was organized by the Natural History Institute and Aevium, an intergenerational dance company.

It was called “Intimacy with Disappearance,” and Miana was one of nine artists who contributed to a meditation on aging, gender, people’s relationships to each other and to the natural environment. The project integrated dance, live music, film and photography, and the artists developed works of art after spending extensive time in the natural environment of Oregon’s Great Basin.

An ongoing project is “The Breast and the Sea: Transforming Our Scars.” Miana is photographing images of real women who have gone through varying stages of breast cancer. “The women are volunteers and we take them to Long Island and photograph them partially nude in the sea,” she said.

For this project, she is collaborating with Rebecca Pine, herself a cancer survivor who found comfort near the ocean and who writes about the strength and beauty of those who have been personally affected by breast cancer. Miana’s sensitive portraits are at once evocative and strikingly tender.The two are hoping to create a book of interviews and images of people of many ages, backgrounds and walks of life who have lost breast tissue to cancer or to prevent hereditary cancer.

The project is meant to show women are beautiful with or without scars and to inspire them not to be defined by their illness. Miana said she hopes to empower women and help them find healing through her portraits. “We are beginning to get attention,” she said.