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Justin Miller 6 December 2012

Software developer, photographer, and entrepreneur

Justin Miller is a software developer, photographer, and entrepreneur. He’s currently involved in his seventh successful startup and likes to balance lots of coding with traveling and getting outdoors, meeting new people, and keeping up on non-technical pursuits as well.

By day, Justin works remotely for Washington, DC-based Development Seed on the MapBox suite of custom mapping tools, mostly as an iOS developer. MapBox’s tools and services are in use by organizations such as TriMet, Intertwine, Foursquare, Flickr, and Craigslist.

Justin’s relatively new to the mapping world — before that, he ran a one-person consultancy for about five years doing web, mobile, and systems freelance work for clients both local and around the world, including Small Society (working on Starbucks and Zipcar, to name a few), Environmental Working Group, Kiplinger, and many others. During this time, he also made the popular Mac apps Pukka and Meerkat.

Before that, Justin was a systems administrator and web developer, from helping start web hosting companies to working in the political and non-profit realms in Washington, DC. Past projects include the United Nations World Food Programme, Barack Obama for Senate, World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, Rock The Vote, Rosie’s O’Donnell’s charities, Greenpeace, ACLU,, Clinton Global Initiative, and numerous high-level political campaigns.

Justin loves combining technical, code-level stuff with a humane approach, putting in some DIY ingenuity to get things done a shoestring when necessary, and helping others in their pursuits, be it with code or just some encouragement.

What are you up to?

In my MapBox work, I’m building open source tools to help developers use open data, including OpenStreetMap, in their apps and websites. All day, I code on open source projects on GitHub, so my work is always public by default. That’s a pretty interesting way to work, and I’m continually amazed how cool the open source movement is.

My biggest side project lately is nature and event photography. I work mostly in wildlife of the Pacific Northwest, and you’ll frequently find me (if you are an early bird) down in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, before dawn, up to my knees in water, in the rain, carrying a lot of gear and doing close-up work. I also have started photographing local events, usually in the tech realm, since I know it best.

I also love to travel. I’m in DC every other month or so to work out of the home office, but in my personal life, I’ve been to about 40 states and a dozen countries. I can’t get enough and am always looking for an excuse to travel.

Other than that, my wife Michelle and I like to do generally fun stuff, be it having backyard projected movies, having homemade cider pressing parties, or leading delegations of adventurers into the unknown.

You can usually find me working either from home in Sellwood/Westmoreland or from one of many coffee shops and cafes all over Southeast Portland.

Why Portland?

Portland is awesome. It’s the first place I’ve really felt home as an adult. I grew up in very rural settings in southwest PA and upstate NY, then lived in DC for a while, but was ready to travel the world as a nomad when we ended up in Portland early on, bought a house, and settled down. I feel like we are well-connected to the rest of the world through an excellent airport, but I don’t feel the need to keep roaming to find a home anymore.

I love the food scene here, the relaxed vibe, the interesting and friendly people, and easy access to the outdoors. I love that I can move from hosting folks at the house for a party to taking a beautiful neighborhood walk to eating at top-notch restaurants to observing many species of wildlife, all within walking distance.

I love that grown adults wear costumes even when it’s not Halloween, that a stranger is always willing to help you out, that the tech scene is largely cooperative and non-competitive, and that there is a large DIY undercurrent to everything. I love that I’m just as likely to find a someone who builds robots as someone who does woodworking or runs a drive-thru dessert shop (I made that last one up, but if you know of one, get in touch).

In short, Portland people feel real, and the scenery’s gorgeous to boot. And how about that liquid sunshine!


Tags: #developer #photographer #entrepreneur #travel

Now that you’ve met Justin, it would be great to have Portland meet you.

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