STAR NATION STORIES
A Photographer’s Journey into #StarNation
Isaac Miller Photography: Bringing Western Star’s Next Generation Campaign to Life
Montana-based photographer Isaac Miller brings his bold spirit and a love of all things West to the images in the Next Generation campaign.
The Passion Behind the Camera
Isaac Miller’s journey to professional photographer began when he was just a kid growing up on a ranch on the south side of San Antonio, Texas. “I can remember both my granddads traveling with photography bags full of gadgets – and I always wondered what each one did,” said Isaac.
Although photography is his full-time focus now, the road from poking around gear bags to working as a professional photographer wasn’t a straight shot. Isaac spent more than 20 years doing many of the jobs he now captures on film, crediting those experiences to the grit and determination he brings to his work as an agricultural and industrial photographer. “Being a creative is maybe the toughest job I’ve ever done. I’m not digging ditches or welding on a skyscraper or anything, but the sort of mental toughness needed is something I severely underestimated when I started off.”
Isaac started shooting seriously after college. He made money to pay the bills with jobs in construction and aviation with photography as a passion project, but he quickly knew he wanted to make a go of it full time.
Making the leap from side hustle to full time professional photographer gave him firsthand knowledge of Western Star’s “Never Back Down” philosophy. While the portfolio of brands he works with today is robust, his partnership with Leatherman was a noteworthy turning point in his career. “I had to work hard for a large brand to trust me,” said Isaac. “Leatherman and I have now been working together for over 10 years, but when we first started, the work gave me that spark I needed. One opportunity led to the next and I haven’t looked back since.”
Now, his primary focus as a photographer is agriculture and industry, working with brands like Ag America, Kubota, and many more. “Growing up on a ranch, I feel really connected to clients and brands in this space. My background has allowed me to connect with a subject during shoots and ultimately, portray my work in a very authentic way.”
A Collaborative Journey with Western Star Trucks
Isaac’s work with Western Star started organically.
“We first discovered Isaac’s work on LinkedIn, and what truly caught our attention was his remarkable talent for conveying the genuine emotions and unwavering dedication of individuals in industrial applications,” said Alex Martin-Banzer, Brand Marketing Specialist for Western Star. “Given that our #NextGeneration campaign messaging revolves around spotlighting people and their enduring love for the brand across generations, it became evident that he was the perfect choice for our photographer.”
There’s a deep link between Western Star heritage models and the next generation of drivers who reach for the keys of the new X-Series models. Isaac was given a big assignment: to visually convey that it’s not about which generation of truck is better, but about the shared love of the Western Star brand across generations.
Every job, client and shoot are unique to Isaac, and he finds inspiration through his many adventures working and traveling across the U.S. “Telling the story of the people behind the product is the most important part of my work, and it’s also my favorite,” said Isaac. “I love to feature anybody I’ve captured on my site if they’re open to it, because at the end of the day people drive the brands.”
The work started off with collaborative creative sessions to ensure that Isaac’s vision aligned with the goals of the campaign; Western Star wanted to redefine the brand’s narrative to go beyond the X-Series product offerings, and into the hearts and minds of the next generation of customers.
To achieve this, three distinct storylines were crafted to encapsulate the campaign's essence:
- "I am the next generation” illustrates a multi-generational relationship in trucking, highlighting the younger generation’s desire to take the lead while forging their own path with the new X-Series trucks.
- "Not your father’s truck” focuses on the transition of leadership in a family business from one generation to the next, emphasizing the shift from older to newer generation trucks.
- "We get it, change is hard” explores people’s resistance to change, particularly in their loyalty to older trucks. It showcases how older generations may initially doubt the new X-Series trucks but eventually embrace them.
Isaac then collaborated closely with a video production team to capture compelling visuals to accompany each storyline.
Making Things Better By “Never Backing Down”
The connection Western Star has with its customers rings true for Isaac. “You can really tell they’re all driving towards a goal together. You can see it through the folks on the ground from corporate, to their dealer networks, to their customers. It’s very much a family of people working to make things better and it reminds me of how I always aspire to work.”
Western Star’s Next Generation shoot came full circle for Isaac when they headed back home to Texas, now with his own gear bags in tow. Like just about anytime man and nature meet, the shoot had its share of challenges, including the Panhandle’s infamous winds delaying flights and kicking up an epic windstorm that blew dust, hay and even equipment around on location.
To Isaac, that’s all just part of the gig.
It’s hard to find a photographer more in line with Western Star’s “Never Back Down” mentality than that.