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Photo Finds, June 18, 2012 – Daniel Milnor

Photographers

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web.

A Leica, a Hasselblad, a few rolls of film. That’s pretty-much photographer Daniel Milnor’s ammunition when he goes out shooting. Whether it’s along the streets of Paris or in the wilds of Machu Pichu, Daniel’s style of documentary photography stands out head and shoulders above the crowd.

Daniel refers to his work as “classic Black and White documentary work,” and I think the description really does fit. There’s an air of old-world richness to his images that’s evocative of the golden age of black and white photography (think Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, and Robert Frank), and some of them might as well have been taken in the mid-20th century.

There are two things that I find particularly fascinating about Daniel’s work.

The first is the curated nature of the work he posts.Every image I see online seems to be carefully considered, and presented with a certain reverence. Daniel doesn’t indulge in the kind of spray-and-pray photography I see so often (and that I myself am sometimes guilty of). Rather, he seems to shoot and edit with care, and his body of work reflects that attention to detail.

The Leica Files, a series of video posts that Daniel has been putting up on his website, adds credence to that hypothesis. Here, he takes one image per video post and talks about it. Normally used to seeing a ton of content packed into as little time as possible, this hit-the-brakes-hard approach is almost a relief for me.

The second thing that captures my attention is somewhat paradoxical. Looking through a number of the galleries on Daniel’s website, what strikes me is that his photographs are like glimpses at his subject matter. They are almost fleeting, like if you blinked, you’d miss them. The cliché of finding that “decisive moment” is so overused, I’m loathe to use it here, but it does apply.

You have this odd sense that a series of dominos fell into place to create the circumstances in the image you’re looking at, and that the cascade of events leading to that moment can never be replicated. And, like an expert catcher who reads the entire field arrayed in front of him so he can call in just the right pitch, Daniel is there to take the image, sealing the moment in emulsion. A blink, a slight shift, and that image might not have been there.

Yet paradoxically, these glimpses are also enduring. Now that they have been captured on emulsion, translated into pixels, they are firm records of the moment. You can look at them, examine them and study them, turn them over in your mind and analyze them. Some inevitably rise to the top and become your favorites, memorable ones that you can recall instantly, even as you acknowledge how fleeting the moment captured was.

For all the old-world elegance and charm his images resonate with, Daniel is a pretty connected guy. His website, http://smogranch.com, is updated often and is pretty darn popular. He’s also active on Twitter and Google+, and is a Photographer at Large for Blurb, the book-making service that’s now built into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.

You can also visit Daniel’s photo archives at http://www.milnorpictures.net/.

That’s it for this edition of Photo Finds. As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below.

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Sohail Mamdani is a writer and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. You can find his portfolio on his website at sohail.me as well as on 500px and Flickr.

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Comments

  • Thank you very much for putting all this together. I’m amazed when anyone finds something interesting in what I’m doing. Much appreciated!

  • Absolutely beautiful photography and a really interesting article.

  • […] are some fantastic shooters using Leica film cameras to create some astonishing images. Last month, we featured photographer Daniel Milnor’s work, for example. Daniel’s favorite camera and lens combo is a Leica M4 film camera and a […]

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