Create: In My Shoes

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Okay, here you go. Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. You want to be a photographer? You want to understand? You want to post and reap the rewards? Well, get ready for the trauma that comes along.

I’m in a foreign city right now. Not foreign as in international. Just foreign to me. I’m editing, writing, building decks, building plans, covering my bases. As we do in jobs like this. A short day. 400 miles. Up in the dark with a cold floor under my feet. I linger for a moment in bed, watching my wife sleep. She is wrapped tightly and the bed is a mess. But she is happy, deep, lost in some mindful world of the dream, hopefully. If I disturb her she will start talking, a rambling, incoherent mess that only I will understand. That is what comes from closeness.

I fight the urge to remain. But I know I must go. Pack, fuel, drive. Fingertips frozen. Satellite radio while the free subscription lasts. CNN, FOX, MSNBC. I listen to any and all as the Pecos Wilderness passes by to my left, to the north.

So you want to do this. So you want to be a photographer. Well then, you better begin to understand what it means to walk in my shoes. And I mean really understand. To do this well you have to cut ties. You have to cut ties to you, your thoughts, your goals, your beliefs. All of it. Done, over, gone. This is the price of admission. This is the buy-in. Otherwise, you are pretending to be. You can’t do two things at once, let alone three or four or five. To truly record you must only record.

This is hard. And it gets harder. More difficult. Turning your back on the easy and the safe. But to truly record what this world is about you must pierce the surface, deep breath, and descend. Pull the cord. Weighted sled of responsibility pulling you past where the light fades and you are left with only the darkness of what lives in your mind. Fear, insecurity, ego and if you are truly fortunate, hope.

You have to know me to shoot me. You have to walk in my shoes. Perhaps metaphorically but you have to know. When you can leave and go home you might not ever know, for sure. So you have to try harder than ever. You have to forget. You have to ignore.

This is the game that some of us learn and can’t stop playing. Like Joshua. The only reasonable move is not to play. But who said any of us are reasonable?

Comments 10

  1. “Like Joshua.”

    Ha! Now I’m going to have to go pull out the movie…

    Not sure how you’re making your way up here today but it’s a total bluebird and dry. Enjoy the drive. Hope we get a chance to get together this week.

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      I’m here. I’ve got calls and then have to make a quick film and then perhaps over to get my badge. I’ll be at OR all day tomorrow and part of Thursday but let’s aim for afternoon on Thursday. I leave Friday morning.

  2. Enjoy Colorado. Totally unrelated – in your next podcast or in a post or hell in a reply to this – can you briefly outline the basic steps you use for your podcast? I learn apps/software pretty slowly. I have the basicest of basics down. I want to do some simple interviews in 2020, and I think the basics work, but I’m checking with others to see what they do.

    1. Record some audio…for now almost always on H5
    2. Open audition
    3. Import
    4. Increase or decrease dbs. No idea what I’m doing there, I just try to keep things out of the reds.
    5. Export, upload to Soundcloud.
    6. Post on Squarespace. Squarespace is confusing here – they have an option for audio, a separate option for Soundcloud, a warning that the Soundcloud option isn’t for podcasts, and then an internal publish to Apple workflow (that looks really tedious)

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      Same. Record to Zoom. Import to Audition. Edit, tweak. Export as WAV. Convert to mpeg for size reasons. Upload to Soundcloud. For some reason the way I embedded these things, for years, doesn’t work anymore but otherwise…

    2. mpeg – interesting! I have a long way to go in Audition. All you Audition users following Shifter – point me to a good, basic level Audition tutorial please! Most of the ones I’ve seen on YouTube are garbage. You can reply here or send me a note at my site – (not a shameless plug – if you’ve got a blog you can let me know in the same comment, I’m getting better about following sites, several through Shifter’s site – following blogs beats the hell out of social media)

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  3. You may have just touched on one of my fears. To record well (and I don’t), you become one with your environment… for as long as it takes. Actually, no, not one with your environment… you have to become your environment itself. And to do this means being willing to leave what feels safe to you… for as long as it takes. In some ways, this is meditation. It is life.

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      Yep. I used to be able to do this without thinking. Everything else would fall away. But now I find it incredibly difficult. There are SO many distractions. And I just don’t have the time to take it slow. It has also impacted the type of story I can do because I simply can’t wait and engage like before.

  4. What a beautiful article Mr. Milnor. It repels and it inspires you at the same time. I think real photography with content and cohesion is a very difficult thing to do but what do I know, I have only been in photography world (more serious) for a year so I have a lot to learn. Your YouTube videos, articles and podcasts help a lot. I would like to see an article or maybe a video about the photographers that have inspired you the most throughout your career so that we can discover them too and learn from their work.

    Thank you Mr. Milnor, it’s always nice reading your articles.

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      There are many. I can do a film about that and probably should. And I can make a film like that from anywhere which is the key for me at the moment.

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