Season 1 | Episode 1

Russ, 2016

Russ, 2016
Photo Phonica

Welcome to PhotoPhonica! A new podcast that explores the sound behind photographs. I would call myself a people photographer and a visual storyteller. For awhile now, I have been thinking about telling stories in a new way by creating audio around a single photograph. Making pictures is so much about putting a frame around the world and excluding everything else. I believe, this is where photography gets its power. From what’s included within the frame but also whats excluded. Recently (and maybe this is my age) I have become increasingly more interested in the story outside the frame. What else is a picture trying to tell us? This is the idea behind photophonica: to start with a single photograph and listen to the sounds and voices within and around that picture. 

Today, for the inaugural episode, I chose a photograph from 2016 that I made of my friend Russ Darling, who I photographed as he was building a stone wall in our small town in northeastern Connecticut. Russ is a Vietnam Era Veteran who has worn many hats over his life: Poet, Artist, former School Bus driver and most recently, Stone Mason.

In this picture Russ is set in a wooded backyard in the early spring, buds still showing on tree branches. He is wearing a beige yellow construction jacket and jeans, he has wispy grey hair and a short scruffy beard. Brown and grey stones of various sizes are scattered all around, covering most the yard. To the left, you can make out the beginnings of a stone wall. But the wall is mostly taken apart. It’s hard to know from the picture if he’s building the wall or taking it down. To the right and behind him are the remnants of a laundry line and the bars for an old swing set without the swing. Russ is walking towards us with his eyes gazing downward and in his right arm he cradles a stone as if it were a child.

Russ begins by telling us a story of his beloved childhood dog. A word of warning that Russ’s story contains an instance of abuse that some listeners might find troubling.

Thank you so much for listening!

Hear Russ reading his poem, “Something About Life”
Hear Russ Discuss Finished Wall
Photo Phonica

Russ and the finished wall in October 2021.



  • Nord-ovest Written by: Lillo Morreale Performed by: Antarte
  • Blue Boy by Ken Cormier
  • Crazy Hunger by Ken Cormier
  • I am so grateful for script editing assistance from my wife Tina Chiappetta-Miller and my daughter Gioia Miller. (It’s a family affair)
  • Special thanks for general audio help and encouragement from Tanya Workman, Ken Cormier, Michael Chovan-Dalton and Dan Pilver.
  • The name “PhotoPhonica” was the brainchild of Richard Kraft.


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