Turning the Table

The day has finally arrived. The tables have been turned and now the hunter has become the hunted. Kman is angling toward that strange and beautiful world of photography, and Uncle Dan is in his crosshairs. These are the first 6×6 images for Kman and the first time he ever put his hands on the Hasselblad. I of course snapped him snapping me and my favorite princess tagged along because that is what little sisters do.

This was a short session. We braved the hundred degree temps, scorpions and chiggers to wade our way through one roll of the beloved TRI-X. As you can see he shares my fondness for all things backlit. Smart kid. This story began a few months ago when my mom told me that Kman was in the front yard with her camera and had been out there for hours. “There isn’t anything out there, so I’m not entirely sure what he is doing,” she said.

Weeks later my brother said, “You need to see these pictures.” “I’m not saying they are great but there is a purpose behind them, he is looking for something.” All of this, of course, peaked my interest. Into the mail went a box of film, a lens and a Leica point-and-shoot.


This trip I knew we would get a chance, however brief, to talk about photography and also give him a chance to get his grubby mitts on the Blad. He isn’t a “screen kid” thank God, so his interest isn’t in seeing anything right away or sitting inside on his computer.

An arrangement has been made. Shoot your film and save it up. Ship it to uncle Dan who will edit and print. I’ll then make my critique and ship everything back. A one on one if you will. At our pace. No hurry, no rush, no need for anything other than a bit of critical, 13-year-old thinking.

This kid is a thinker. He is very thoughtful, quiet until the dam bursts and then impossible to turn off. I’m not sure what goes through the head of a modern 13-year-old but I have a feeling I’m about to find out.

New Kman Book: Blurb 6×9

Go ahead and say it. “I can’t believe you made another book.”

GUILTY

But I have REASONS for doing this. Cut me some slack. One of the best things I get to do with a camera is photograph my family. Not all of my clan is willing to spend time before my lens, but the little ones do because I am bigger than they are and they still think I have control over them, at least to some degree. This will all change soon, so I must be quick, steady and relentless.

So the little guy in this book, Kman, is no stranger to this blog, but what IS new is that the Kman is now walking the Earth with a camera in hand. Yep, it’s true. Named and unnamed sources are reporting that he has been seeing walking, talking and photographing. In fact, sources are reporting that film has been processed and the results were surprisingly pleasant. There was rumored to be direction in the images, thought and a point of view. Time will tell, but it is my job to help the process along. So, as I write this I am feverishly hunting for a Nikon FM2 and 35mm lens, the exact rig I started with, and a box of film sits on my kitchen table ready to be shipped.

I didn’t create this book for me, I created it for HIM.
This book is for him to study, to remember and to use to help understand the photographic process. What did it FEEL like to be photographed? Why did I shoot color black and white? Where was the light coming from? All things he can figure after spending a little time with this book.






This is a Blurb, 6×9 color softcover. A good mix of black and white and color as well as a multitude of formats. All I did was pull a selection of photographs from an eight-year time frame. What sucks for me is knowing that because I live in California I’ve missed so much of his life. I have gaping holes in the coverage, something that drives any photographer crazy. But, this is the reality for now. Have a look and let me know what you think.

POWERBAND

Another update on the Ultimate Badass. All seventy-five pounds of him.

Now I have to say. He has rock star looks. He has great hair. Tiny chicks dig him. He has massive guns(okay maybe not.) And, the little bugger is out riding on the big boy track.

To give a little perspective for those of you not in tune with the modern motocross bike. I’ve ridden motorcycles my entire life. I’m not saying I’m a great rider, but my first bike dates back to Indiana in and around 1975. A Honda Z50, complete with small, fat tires and white, moon-shaped fenders(I was afraid to shift gears until my sister belittled me into doing it.) My last bike was a Honda 600 V Twin Transalp dualsport, which I thought I was fast.

My nephew, the Ultimate Badass, is riding an 80cc or 85cc bike. I can’t remember which. It is, BY FAR, the scariest thing I have ever ridden. My brother, because he is twisted, couldn’t wait to get me on this bike. “You are gonna need to change your shorts when you are done,” he said before I climbed on.

I never got out of third gear. The bike has six gears total. I hit the power-band and saw my life pass before me. Suddenly, every minute of my forty-two-years came forward. My voice of reason bellowed in my ear, “Get off this bike before you mangle yourself.”

So when you see the “Lad of Fury” in these pictures, just know what kind of machine he is on. Not to mention the track. Yes, the track. I had difficulties WALKING the track. Riding it was not in my mental or physical picture.

This little dude also races bicycles, and I couldn’t ride that track either. It’s amazing how lame I am compared to him. Really. He is a superior beast.

Another great aspect of this particular track day was the entire Milnor clan was in attendance to witness the mastery of boy + bike. Me, as usual, armed with Leica and Hasselblad, not the best tools for this particular event, but like a good photographer, I forced it.


I figured if I busted out some shallow focus, tilted stuff I could dazzle the most jaded of photo-hack. When in doubt, shoot wide open and tilt the dame thing. I have to say, for me, this was one of the most rewarding photo-ops in recent memory. I live in awe of this little dude. I envision a time in the very near future, when he will poke his head from the factory motorhome, peering over the crowd of girls yelling his name and see Uncle Dan in the background wearing his Ultimate Badass jersey.

El Sobrino

I guess you could call this haircut the “Tom Brady,” but I’m not sure my nephew planned it that way. To say this kid is cool is a profound understatement. He defines cool. All 75 pounds of him. Now at this moment were we locked in an epic, basketball struggle, he and I, mano a mano. Okay, not really. I suck at basketball. Can’t shoot, can’t dribble with my left hand, can’t run and dribble, can’t defend and EVERYTHING associated with this game hurts my knee. So, I took pictures. Now getting the elusive beast to stand still was not easy and only realized by threats, physical punishment and mental torment, but I do what I need to do to cement these moments to emulsion.

Stay tuned, another feature on the lad coming up in a few days, complete with video.

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.