Why I Love Magazine

Not that you were asking but I’m going to share my magazine thoughts with you…again. Why? First, I’m amazed at how many people don’t know we make a magazine. Second, this format is SO unique in how it looks, how it can be designed and what it means to those who receive it. And third, there are SO MANY people who have the drive and talent to be publishing their own. How do I know? Because I did it. On a small scale mind you. I shot, edited, sequenced and designed a short run magazine, back in like 2009, and sold my allotted number.(100) And I’m pretty sure I could have sold a lot more.

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Now, am I going to support myself on magazine sales? Probably not, but I will tell you within a week of “announcing” I was going to do this I was getting calls from people who wanted to advertise. I ended up not doing any advertising, didn’t really need it, but had I chosen to go down that route I think I could have managed it. The magazine has ALWAYS been one of the Holy Grails to documentary style photographers, going back to the days of Look and Life. HOWEVER, all of this died back in the mid 1990’s, and yet many of us are still pretending like these magazines are the keys to “getting work out.” Please. They aren’t, and they haven’t been for a long, long while, but the magazine is still very alluring because of what it means.
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First, it’s designed to be discarded, in most cases that is. We all have friends who have every copy of National Geographic or Rolling Stone or Off-Road Buckshot Mudder….come on people I grew up country. To some the magazine is SACRED ground. Most people get a magazine, read it, leave it around until they look at it and ask “Why am I keeping these?” then toss them out. But why? BECAUSE THEY KNOW ANOTHER ISSUE IS ON THE WAY. People this is so fantastic. Ever thought about a subscription list? A simple email database of those who want in? How easy is that to compile? Wait for it….I’m doing this precise thing. Stay tuned for a subsequent post.

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Also, magazines are informal in comparison to books. They are treated differently, taken poolside, used to mop up the puke of sick kids and probably still read, but I would need independent verification from you parents out there. Magazines travel. They are given away. My wife gives her’s away on airplanes. “Hey, wanna read this?” she asks and they are ALWAYS taken. Try giving a book away on a plane. It might work but people might think you are creepy too. And for all I know you ARE creepy. You’re here aren’t you?
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These last two spreads are from a new project, Whistleblower, which is a look at the modern surveillance culture and the changing terminology of modern warfare. The images were made in various places around the world.

In a way this was a trial run. Just another test in a long, long line of tests. I made mistakes, even after proofing so many times I almost threw up. It happens. To everyone. Don’t sweat it. Correct and move on. Live and learn. Enjoy. When I see this magazine I think to myself, “What are the limits here, the possibilities?” and what comes back at me is…..there aren’t any. What are we waiting for? Permission? An editor to assign something then embargo the work after running ONE image? If you are a wedding photographer why not run a quarterly run of your best images which then goes out to your top vendors, planners and former clients, via print or “E?” If you are a editorial photographer why not run an issue on what didn’t run via mainstream channels? If you are an amateur who shoots for fun why not do a run for your family to keep them up on what is turning you on in the visual world?

We all need to get hip and get hip NOW. This isn’t 1975, or 1985 or 1995 or even 2005. This is a blank slate. A playing field where everyone gets in the game.

Magazine x 2

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I love magazines. I don’t actually read them, or subscribe to them, but when I hold them in my hand it’s nothing but love. Sometimes if I’m facing a long flight on an airline with no inflight entertainment I’ll buy an Economist, catch up on the world, but that is about it. Just listen to how we describe these little jewels. “Magazines, periodicals, glossies, or serials are publications that are printed with ink on paper, and generally published on a regular schedule and containing a variety of content.” Damn, what’s not to like?
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Now I can make my own, and people this is a grand experience, one that SCREAMS for collaboration. In my Blurb travels I’m continually amazed at how little collaboration I see. I keep crossing my fingers, hoping the world would appear more as an open door rather than a locked bunker. Perhaps the magazine will set us free?
This little film is about the same work, in the same format, but with a very different look and feel. Done simply to show you how basic design changes will greatly impact the look, feel and potential success of your project. My advice, venture forth.

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Hasselblad Gallery Page


So I have a gallery page on the Hasselblad site now.

Don’t get too excited, it wasn’t as if they came to me. Anyone who uses these cameras can have a feature page, or at least I think that is the case.

I don’t do too many of these things, but I like to see if there is any benefit in doing stuff like this. I’m sure there is if you drive folks to these features, but I’m always curious what happens naturally. Typically, not much, but still fun to see.

I love the cameras, and I love shooting square, so it was a natural fit for me. I also really love their scanners, and their H cameras, but they are both priced high, but if you can get one, well worth it. If you haven’t seen these scanners or cameras, take a peak. Regardless of your film or digital taste, the H is a great machine.

BLAD LINK

Story Behind the Photos: Kman Does Texas BMX


The infamous Kman, not happy at having to stand still for this picture.

I did what I thought I was supposed to do. Yes, after all these years, I still do this.

My nephew, the infamous Kman, races BMX. In fact, he is a total badass with a room full of trophies to show off his 65-pound prowess.

So I go to visit the family and find out I’ve landed on race night.

I have options.

I think to myself, “This is racing action, I’ve got to get that peak moment, I need a motor drive, long lens, etc,” so I grab the digital body and long lens and toss it in the truck.

And then, more out of reflex than anything else, I toss in the Blad.

The track is easy. A small place, and being Texas people are relaxed.

“Hey, my nephew is racing, can I stand in the middle of the track?”

“Sure, go ahead.”

And with a smoking gun the races begin.

I’m hammering away, motor drive humming, mirror clanging up and down. But I’m distracted. Not by something around me, but by something inside me.

“What am I going to do with these images?”
I begin to ask.

“Do I really want to sit down and edit through all these motor sequences.”

“Ugh.”

“Why am I doing this?”

“Do I really want to archive these, label these, tag these, etc,etc?”

“Ugh.”

Don’t laugh, this is how my troubled mind works.

I began scrolling through the images on the camera, something I HATE doing. I know hate is a strong word, but it fits here. I DETEST looking at images right after. I think it completely KILLS the idea of being a photographer, BUT I CAN’T STOP MYSELF.

I’m like a total crack monkey with the preview window. I can’t stop. If I turn it off, I just turn it right back on. Hopeless.

I suddenly realized, with slight sadness, I had no interest in even looking at the images I was making. The images didnt’ feel like they were mine.

There were a dozen parents in the same area, all with similar gear, banging away. They probably had the exact same stuff, only of their mini-warriors. And I think there was even the dude that shoots every kid and uploads every single image online so that the one parent without their camera can buy a print.

“Well, I know my brother will like these, or my mom,” I said to myself, making excuses for the images, while I took a quick peak at the refreshment stand wondering what delicious treats they had hidden behind the counter.

I packed up the gear and headed for the car.

Right before burning dust in the parking lot I saw the Blad.

I loaded the relic and grabbed my dreaded tripod. Yes, my tripod, and headed out into the world I had just retreated from.

At least 10% of my mind was still thinking of the refreshment stand. I have to be honest.

Suddenly there were whispers around me.

“Honey, look at that guy with the old camera.” “What is he doing?” “Is he allowed in there?”

“Hey, dude, what the f%$# is that thing.” “Holy S%@#, haven’t seen one of those in a while.”

And suddenly I was in my own world. I could see again. I grunted and shuffled around the pit area like a deranged ape.

Things were clear. I dissected with my eyes, and then framed the pieces. A story began to build.

The kids in the pits were like ants invading an empire, merging in lines and shadow, with harsh artificial light painting their movements with razor sharp shadow. The sky was glowing.

Insects pierced the night. Colors were bright. The wind picked up. Darkness and light. Passion.

I don’t remember much of what was around me. I was “involved” let’s say. I was involved in a 6×6 space that started in my medulla oblongata and ended at the tip of an 80mm.

Clunk.

Minutes later.

Clunk.

This was MY work. My mind. My vision. My moment. This was the work I need to be doing ALL THE TIME. All supplied by following the Kman.

I thought about history. I thought about family. I thought about the light. I thought about what these pictures would mean. I thought about who would have them in 100 years. I thought about Kman and what must be going through his mind.

I was away in that place that photographers go when they are working.

And then. Clunk. It was over.

Thinking about Peru 2010

Roughly 120 days from now I’m teaching a workshop in Peru.

My planning has already begun. You might find that a little surprising, but it’s very true. And while this might seem like a lot of prep time, let me assure you, it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

And when I say planning, I don’t mean dragging out my suitcase or beginning to prepare lecture notes. Those will come, in time. I mean, one of the basic questions is which camera will I take – my Leica or my Hasselblad?

At the moment, I’m beginning to prepare the logistics of my photographs. My personal introspection of what I’d like to make while in Cusco for the first time – what I’d like to make while there, not what I’ll be teaching. In fact, this note is somewhat of a primer on what we will be considering while there.

You see, in many ways, I’m in a similar position to the students who will be attending the Peru in Book Form photographic workshop. I’ve never been to Peru. I’ve never witnessed Easter in Peru. I’ve never seen Cusco. I’ve never been to this hotel. I’ve never flown through Lima. So, it is difficult for me to know exactly what will happen, which is what is so exciting.

(For those curious why the heck I’m teaching a workshop in a city I’ve never visited, I’m working with the producer of the PhotoExperience workshops who specializes in photography in Cusco. Between the two of us, we’ve got it covered.)

I think one of the most difficult things about doing an event like this is fighting the urge to preconceive what will happen or what I will see. More seasoned photographers might stand over my shoulder: “been there, done that“ trying to share the easiest solution with me, but again, my mind is telling me otherwise. I have grand visions, but there is always a catch.

In my editorial and newspaper days, assignments NEVER appeared like the concepts I’d preconceived. On the one hand this was frustrating. My visions were always incredible, and often times the visuals in front of me were not. I’d find myself cursing the assignment editor or saying to myself, “Gotta make chicken salad out of chicken sh%$.”

But on the other hand, arriving at unexpected things was fantastic, kept me on my toes, challenged me, and in the end made me a far better photographer. Heading into unknown territory with my camera became second nature, which has helped me tremendously when it comes to shooting weddings or even portraits. I don’t get rattled.

So today I find myself dreaming about Peru and also trying to figure out how I’m going to “design” my photographs – better yet, create my story.

I don’t know what I’m going to see in Peru. I could go online and look up Easter and try to find something specific, and part of me wants to do that, but I’m fighting the urge. Perhaps I don’t really want to know. I want to see with fresh eyes, knowing that what I see has never happened before. Each year brings something new, something I learned from photographing Sicilian Easter over a four-year period. I would return to the same towns, shoot the same events and see different things each time.

I’m thinking about other aspects of my images: how do I want them to look? In what format? Color or black and white? What size prints will I make? Will the prints be digital or traditional? Am I shooting for more of an editorial look? Gallery look? Or a book?

The specific goal of this workshop is to photograph Easter in Peru with the idea of producing a book from the material. What size book? What format? Will this be a commercial book? A personal book? A limited edition? Softcover? Hardcover?

What if I shoot two different ways and make two different books? Can I even do that? Will it water down the images if I try to do two things at once? Should I research previously published books on Peru? Of Easter?

Okay, by now it is evident I just finished my morning coffee, and that perhaps I’m a little fixated on this issue. Guilty as charged.

But this is my reality. You see my “design” on my images changes. I’ve got more than one look, and I’m trying to predict the future.

The easiest thing to do is shoot my Leica and Tri-x. I’ll love it. I know because I’ve done it so many times, in so many places. But I could also use the Hasselblad, which I love for portraits. Maybe I could shoot the action with the Leica and the slower stuff with the Blad?

It would be so great to board the plane with two small bodies, two lenses and a small bag of film. Light, easy, simple. But my mind tells me I can do more, make more, but this might just be another trick.

But in the end I can’t allow the concept of a book, or what a gallery might like, overpower the basics of light, timing and composition. I need to put myself in the best position to make the best photographs that are most reflective of me as a photographer.

It’s so easy to get lost in the “design”.

So, today my planning and designing continues. Soon I will work on lecture notes, slideshows, etc. I will curse myself for losing at least half of my Spanish ability. But I will also relish the idea of what will happen 120 days from now. I will dream about the moments and the happiness we will experience.

Like a fire burning inside, keeping us creatively warm, until that moment when the starter gun says,” Go!”

www.santafeworkshops.com
www.photoexperience.net
www.milnorpictures.net