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.

I’ve Been Downsized

I knew the day would come. It started like this.

“Mr. Milnor, all three of your bags are overweight.”
“WTF?”
“Yes, you are going to have to check all three bags.” “And there will be a fee.”
“WTF?”

“How did I fly here without any trouble?” I asked.
“Americans are lazy, but we enforce the rules here,” she replied.
“Ouch.” “I like blanket statements as much as anyone else but that was harsh.”
“I work for a book publishing company,” I added, looking for mercy.

I unzipped my roller bag and asked “Would YOU want to check that?”

She looked own at a massive clump of equipment, cables, drives, fan belts, antiques, solid brass bodies and photographic buzz saws. “Ah, no, not really,” she answered.

“Okay, I will give you permission this one time, but that’s it,” she said. “I love you, I mean I seriously love you to the DNA level,” I said.

Now, I thought at some point the TSA would crack down on us filmheads but I didn’t see carry on bags being the issue that forced me from my ways. The day has come when I realize I just can’t carry what I want when I fly. Bastards! They don’t care, and I get why they don’t care, but it still royally sucks. So, I was downsized. By my own free will, credit card and Amazon Prime Account.
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The first and second images here are my old setup. For audio you have Zoom H6 (NO I’m not linking everything slackers.), EV mics(x2), tripods, XLR cables, dead rats, mice, cats or whatever you call them, etc. This all fit in my Tenba backpack. The second images is of my Tenba Roller Bag. (Buy Tenba, I love them.) (Buy, buy, buy….)This is where poeple think I’m crazy. Hasselblad and two lens, Leica and two lenses, Polaroids and four packs of film, iPhone film rig, two hard drives, film, Canon 5D III and three lenses, cards, card reader, cables for EVERYTHING, batteries, bellows for Blad, chargers, model releases…..WHEW. My back is KILLING ME. ALL of this fit in this roller, its’ incredible.(Buy, buy, buy.)(Tenba, Tenba, Tenba.)
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But now you will meet the NEW me. The smaller, lighter, hipper me. With short hair no less. From all the above to the following.

iPhone 6 Plus

(Yes it’s big. Get over it.) I see this as my COMPUTER and much more. The iPhone is now my email, text and phone, yes, yes, but also my audio recorder, podcasting base, digital camera and movie camera.

Lav Mic

x2. So small and light and cheap.

Splitter

Runs both lav mics and my headphones

External Ambient Mic

This replaces my Zoom for ambient street recordings for my “Just Listen” series, and also runs off the phone.

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Oh, and in case you were wondering where all this goes, and how I’m going to downsize my equipment…I’ll show you. From this moment forward, when I’m flying, I will carry this audio setup, my Leica M4 and two lenses, my Polaroid and film packs, my meter, film, model releases and all of it fits in ONE tiny backpack that is so comfortable. (Tenba, buy Tenba) (You know I’m kidding about this, but this bag is fantastic.) Check out the small packs inside, designed for GoPro, that work perfectly for all my stuff. I just pull out the ones I don’t need, leave them in my hotel room and take what I need.
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The last thing I have to mention is, I now check a bag. Most of the time. People are insane. Seriously, they carry on so much stuff, and yes I was guilty too, that I don’t like that feeling of now knowing if your bags are going to make it without being checked. So now I will get on with my small Tenba bag and my small, leather satchel and I don’t care if you attempt to carry on a stuffed Caribou, including the antlers. Go ahead schmucko!

The new me also travels with things like a yoga mat, so I need to check anyway, and speaking of what yoga does to your brain….I’m not rushing or frantic. I’m just being……OMMMMMMMMMMMM. I’m still missing one small, extender cable, but other than that I’m loaded for bear and ready to move. Get out of my way people, I’m a media professional.
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Now, some folks asked why I just didn’t go this route from the beginning, and I’ll tell you. This new setup isn’t as good as my old one. It’s not as stable, durable and the sound quality is not the same, but it still works. Does this sound familiar? I’ve never had my Zoom crash. Ever. You could pound nails with the EV mics, and people have walked on my XLR cables without issue, but I’m in a pickle here and this was the solution I came up with. Anyone want to interview?

What I’m Thinking

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I’m thinking I need to lighten my load.

What you don’t see in this series of photographs is the rest of my daily gear. Leica, Blad, Polaroid. Why do I do this? Because I can’t stop shooting film cameras. I still prefer the negative to anything digital. I like the cameras themselves, the process of shooting analog, the limitations of analog, which I feel are what make it so great, and the archive of analog. Yes, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my 40TB of digital data looming over my head. So on the chopping block is the 5D Mark III and three lenses, and in is the Canon s100. Without a doubt the 5D III is the better, more versatile camera that shoots much higher quality imagery and motion. But what is also indisputable is s100 is a lot smaller and lighter. When I started my current campaign with Blurb it was thought I would be shooting a lot of digital, at least at times, but I’m not. What I am doing is creating a stream of images for lesser needs, and continuing to capture most of the good stuff on film.
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Speaking of film…On the way to San Francisco last week my film set off the TSA alarm for….explosives I think. Something. Anyway, I got the full court press, which was no big deal, but that was the first time it ever happened. They had me for about 15-20 minutes maybe. I got felt up, which is always great, and they got to see all my personal items. Sadly I had nothing exotic or even anything slightly amiss.

Oddly enough, traveling with film, at least for me, is easier than ever before. It’s such a rarity now that typically I get the “Cool, haven’t seen this in a while.” Followed by “Man, I really miss film.” Now, this does NOT apply when speaking of France or Switzerland where I’ve been grilled, threatened, insulted and yelled at for both carrying film and for being an American. Such is life. I kill them with kindness. Or I don’t say anything. Or I keep asking for a hand inspection until they threaten me with not getting on the plane. (This has happened numerous times.) This actually doesn’t bother me. What bothers me are the new rules about carry on bags. And weight. Returning from Australia a few months ago it was deemed, on a whim, that all three of my bags were overweight. The same bags I’d flown to Australia with no problem. Suddenly all my bags were an issue and they tried like Hell to get me to check my gear bags. I opened them up and asked “Would you want to check this?” “Ahhh, no,” was the reply and they let me on, but those days are fading.

So, it’s lighten the load time. I’m even contemplating an iPhone 6 Plus for my interview and podcast needs, which would allow me to leave recorder at home. If I could somehow get my junk down to ONE bag it would be ideal. I know I’m dreaming here because when my Blurb duties are over and I aim at the open spaces of Australia or Abilene, I’m going to want my film junk. What I will try to do is consolidate my backpack and roller bag into one backpack. Audio and visual gear in one bag. Time to call Tenba once again.

Or maybe, if I buy an iPhone 6 Plus I don’t even need this little camera? See, more confused than before.
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Why I Deleted my Social Media Accounts (Internet Habit) Phase Two

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(Analog Self-Portrait, 2015)

In January 2014 I deleted seven of my social media accounts.

I wrote about this little experience, and the post went on to receive more traffic than any post I’ve ever done. I also received a remarkable amount of email and messages from people all over the world who wrote in support and solidarity. It appears there are many of us who feel like the social media rabbit hole is deeper and darker than we first thought. But I also started that post by saying “Hey, if you love social then more power to you.” “Enjoy.” And I still feel this way today.

Now, while out and about in the world I slowly became known as the “guy who deleted social,” which has created some interesting moments over the past year. I’m always amazed by how seriously people take their social, and also how serious they take my departure. I’ve routinely been scoffed at while being asked “Oh ya sure, you deleted your social…how long did that last?” And when I reply, “Still deleted and not going back,” I’m met with genuine looks of horror, bewilderment and in some cases hostility. I also have a fair number of people who say something along the lines of “I’m so jealous.” There are many folks tied to social due to job requirements, and a significant percentage of these people feel like they are being ground up by the superficial treadmill of the social life. And yes, there are many people who don’t give a s$#@ what I do.

So being me I took things one step further.

In December of 2014 I decided to ONLY go online when I HAD to go online, or at least attempt to do this. No more news. No more sports. No more mindless climbing videos on YouTube. No more endless days lost to the magical powers of Will Farrell. No more shopping. Just needs. Need to reserve a book at the library. Done. Need a hotel. Done. Need a flight. Done. Need to see what’s trending on Yahoo….NOT f$#$#@$ done. BLISS. BLISS PEOPLE. BLISS. The plan was two fold. Stop going online for no reason, and the moment I felt like going online I would pick up a book instead.

So. These are the books I’ve read this year. (Yes, if I wasn’t such a d$#@ I would have linked all these.)

1. I am Pilgram, Clark
The Circle, Eggars
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Eggars
No Place to Hide, Greenwald
All the Light we Cannot See, Doerr
Dark Alliance, Webb
Kill the Messenger, Webb
The Interior Circuit, Goldman
Say Her Name, Goldman
10. The Art of Political Trouble, Goldman
In Trouble Again, O’Hanlan
Desert Memories, Dorfman
At Night we Walk in Circles, Alarcon
The Sound of Things Falling, Vasquez
Deep Down Dark, Tobar
The Tattooed Soldier, Tobar
Kings of Cool, Winslow
Savages, Winslow
Don’t Stop the Carnival, Wouk
20. Good Hunting, Devine
Hotel Florida, Vaill
Salvador, Didion (reread every few years)
The Secret Race, Coyle and Hamilton
Lasso the Wind, Egan
Death Grip, Samet
The Emerald Mile, Fedarko
Desert Solitaire, Abbey
Blink, Gladwell
The Long Way, Moitessesier
30. The Monkey Wrench Gang, Abbey
The Man Who Walked Through Time, Fletcher
The Cult of the Amateur, Keen
Digital Vertigo, Keen
Dubliners, Joyce
Collapse, Diamond (Reading at the time of this post.)
The Goldfinch, Tartt (Reading at the time of this post.)

Now, you might be asking yourself why I count my books. Normally I don’t. But what began to dawn on me was “Hmmm, this FEELS like a lot of books.” “I wonder how many books I’ve actually read?” People also ask me if I’ve read anything good lately, and I can never remember titles, authors, etc. so I figured I’d jot them down. My old routine was get up at 5AM or 5:30AM, get my non-morning person wife out the door in one piece and then go straight to my computer with the most potent cup of coffee the world has ever seen. Twelve hours later I would move away from the desk. Now, I get up at the same time, get the same non-morning person wife out the door, make the same heart-stopped cup of widowmaker coffee, but now instead of hitting the space bar I read. I read for however long it takes me to finish my coffee. At some point the coffee will probably kill me, but that’s okay because then I won’t have to worry about anything else, like Kodak stopping TRI-X production, but until then I know I’ve got a new routine that works. I also apply this technique at night. No more stupid s$#$ for no reason. Just read.(And I LOVE stupid s$#%)

The impact of my online diet has been profound. My mind feels like one solid block and not a hundred fragments connected to one of those vibrating hotel beds. I also feel smarter. That might sound strange, and perhaps this isn’t valid, but it sure feels that way. I’ve returned to novel length material and have distanced myself from the informational morsel. No banner ads. No facial recognition advertising. No “SEVEN ANNOYING THINGS THAT HAPPEN AT WORK” lifestyle that permeates the lunacy that is The Internet. Got a second? Hey, surf the web. Bored? Surf the web. Commercial on TV, grab your phone and surf the web. Having an important or personal conversation with a loved one? Hey, perfect time to surf the web! Etc., etc. In some odd way I feel like I’ve been whispered a secret. I walk through the world as if it’s one enormous human zoo and I’m in a bubble looking at these strange species up close and personal. The difficult part is actually spending time with those lost to the system. It’s more difficult now. Watching as they ignore life, the conversations, questions aimed their way as they look up with glazed eyes and go “What?” So, now I am trolling for the disconnected.

I don’t expect anyone to follow my quiet, little voyage. Nor do I think it’s noble, better or pioneering. What I want to share is the idea that less is, at times, certainly more, and if this experience has been so rewarding to me it could perhaps be the same for you. I didn’t even mention art, bookmaking and the guitar, three little things I’ve been deeply investing in with all my newfound mental freedom. As for art and guitar, man do I suck, but I’m okay with that. Made four new books this week as part of a new twenty-book series that will live in a box set edition. I’m greedy people. I think about what I’ve been able to accomplish and I wonder what others I admire would be able to create if they took they time they waste on social and the web and applied to to their work, or a new passion. I wonder. And I wait.

I’d be curious if anyone out there does a short test or experiments with this idea. If you do hit me up and let me know how it goes. Okay, gotta go. There are pages in need of turning.