My Peru Work

Okay folks, here it is. You asked for my Peru work, so I thought I would unveil it.

Actually, for some reason, I’m in no hurry to rush this stuff out. Someone asked me the other day, “What is the first thing you are going to do with the Peru work?” My response was, “Nothing.”

I think I’m in big trouble when it comes to my future because we all know we now live in the “real time” world. A lot of folks would have been blogging, Facebooking, Twittering the entire time they were in Peru, and by now would have showered the world with each and every frame.

Me, I looked at Peru as two plus weeks of ZERO computer, ZERO connected time and again, I’m in NO rush at all to shower the world with this work.

I have decided to begin making prints. “You are going to print HUGE right, I mean come Milnor this is 2010 don’t even think of printing less than 30×40.” Well, truth be told, I’m not even tempted. Not at this point.

My print size of choice? 4×6. Just bought the paper yesterday, and a small box to hold them. I know, I know, you can’t possibly showcase the work this way. Well, but I don’t feel the need. I can carry these prints with me, handle them, think about them, use them as my layout for when I eventually begin to make a book.

Speaking of the book. It will be 12×12. I have an cover idea. I have many ideas, but what I can pull off design wise will be the key. Any book designers out there want to collaborate? Probably not. Speaking of books, I’ve got at least a half dozen to make, three for clients, three for me. I’ve got so much work to do, and yet I find myself trying to avoid the computer as much as possible. It’s so nice outside. I have new tires on my bike, more later on that.

So for now, here’s Peru. A portion of the 6×6 anyway.

Aint’ Nothing Like It

Tiny humans are magical. I don’t mean that in a unicorn way, but rather in a fresh, new way. I really, really enjoy tiny humans. You can see in their eyes the new world gleaming. It always makes me wonder what they must be thinking. I learn from them. I get really close and study them like a new species. They reach out, grab my hair or try to put their tiny fingers in my eye. I learn from them about seeing the world for the first time.

You might be thinking, “Okay wait, you are shooting a nine-month-old human with a Hasselblad?” Yes. I know, this is NOT the easy road. While wonderful, the 503CW film Hasselblad is not my fastest option. The easy road would have been 5D Mark II, autofocus and zoom lens. Me no likey.
For me this is the ultimate challenge and is in part what keeps me interested. I can’t talk to this little one. I mean I did, but it just bounced off. I sang to her which had slightly more impact, but she was on tiny human autopilot and you just have to roll with it. I’m not looking for 300 images, just looking for a few that count.

Throw in the tiny dog and you are lowering the capture rate even further. A bad thing you say? No. More challenging. Me likey. You know at some point you will have to wipe the lens, both from dog slobber and tiny human slobber, but hey, that is the rough and tumble world of the kid photographer. I can take it. And dog slobber has magic healing powers. Not sure if you knew that.

At one point, I shot 12 straight frames as fast as I could focus and wind. They were all in focus, and all displayed this tiny human in varying moods and facial features. I practice with this camera and am committed to using it, which is easy to do when you bring little else. Again, I like doing this to challenge myself, and force myself to not fall back upon what is easiest. You don’t have to change cameras or shoot film to challenge yourself. You can do it with anything. It is more mental than physical.

If you shoot kids or weddings you are in the repeat world of photography. As a magazine photographer I rarely found myself in the same situation twice. As a newspaper photographer I found myself in the same position a fair amount, or doing the same assignment two years in a row. It’s EASY to fall back into the routine world, far more challenging to look upon a situation with new, fresh eyes like the tiny human in front of your lens.

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.


The District v2

The White House with it’s fence that LOOKS formidable from close up, but not so bad when you step back. I like this perspective.

So I’m in Washington for a shoot, a good shoot, a rambling, flowing shoot that wanders for several days from the inside of the district to the edges of the Virginia countryside.

I’m staying in a hotel in Georgetown, close enough to the heart and soul, walkable. Just where I want to be.

I love this town.

“You’ve never lived here,” my friends say. True enough. And I always visit when it’s warm, so it’s hard for me to imagine the gripping cold on my thin hands as they try to reload the Leica, or in this case the Blad.

I love this town because it feels like something is going on. Always. I’m an outsider, a complete outsider and because of this I have a special skill. Naivety. Everything is new. Everywhere is new.

Visitors mass in front of The White House. When I first started shooting here I think this street was still open.

Standing on the street corner in the early morning light. A guy next to me in a tan trench coat, dark sunglasses and the butt of a cigar wedged in his teeth. If I’ve ever seen anyone who looks more like a spy I can’t recall. He must be playing a role? Or perhaps he is a spy, just not worried about looking like one?

I always stay longer when I come to this place. If the assignment lasts three days, I’ll stay four or five, just so that I get some time alone.

And when I say alone, sometimes I am alone, walking solitary, but other times I’m surrounded by tourists, by visitors, hundreds if not thousands of them, but I still feel alone because I’m in work mode. I’m walking yes, but I’m LOOKING. And when I look I can simply disappear.

I can stand in front of them and it is as if they can’t see me. With the Blad I’m looking down and holding it low, so I don’t exist in some ways.

There is much going on. There are many unhappy people, some display their wrath with fire and others with quiet.

One of the many protesters near The White House.

I have the Blad and the 80mm, which is what I’ve done 99% of my square work with. Very inexpensive. Very standard. Vanilla. Black and white.

Framing with square is different from any other method. I sometimes have difficulty switching from the square to the rectangle and then back. In some ways, like any other technique outside the standard 35mm rectangle, the square is a gimmick. It really is. It looks different, so there is a tendency to try to get away with things when using it. I’ve done it. I try not to.

A lone, quiet protester who emitted the most peaceful vibe.

The air is thick, hot and very humid. The temperature hovers near 100 degrees. The cameras are hot in my hands and the light has totally gone. Totally. I seek shade and dark places, not because I can’t take the heat but because those are really the only places I can make a picture in this light.

I walk for hours.

My pants are wet with sweat, my shoes are squishing around a little bit. I love the heat, but I walk with the cameras under my arm to try and keep them as cool as possible.

The monuments are a big part of the city, and yes, they have been photographed millions of times. But not by me. And even if I had photographed them before, I would still go back to them every time I visit the city. Not just for images, but for the reason they were placed there in the first place.

The Washington Monument with Delta 3200 and luckily a bit of cloud cover.

Languages. Voices from all over the world are around me, here to see the same thing I came to see. This place means a lot to a lot of different people. In some ways I think this city is nearly forgotten by many Americans. My family never went when I was growing up. Politics cover this place in a residue that is hard to penetrate if you are bothered by that kind of thing. I’m not.

Inside The Lincoln.

I shoot a roll of color in 35mm and keep framing and snapping with the Blad. I walk the entire day, shooting about three rolls of 120. I can see the images in my head. They are not particularly great “”moment” images, although a few are, but they are a recording of my time in this place at this exact moment, something the spy could use to retrace my steps.

The light is still bad and it limits me, but this is nearly always the case. I look for the strange places where I can work with the splintered light. And then I wait for the sun to sink, for the light to get direction and then I pounce once again.

A message left by a wishful individual.

As the day comes to a close I angle back toward the hotel and dry clothes. I empty my pockets out on the bed and count my take, something I always find exciting. What did I get? The not knowing is what I love the most. The trip home begins in the morning.

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.”


“Why am I doing this?”

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


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.


Minutes later.


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.