Our return to the field has begun. Blurb that is. My first field event in three years was a few short months ago and happened to go down here in Santa Fe. Review Santa Fe, the same event I once attended as a photographer. First showing my portfolio to a review board who then selected me, and a few dozen others, to attend. The same event that led to my first and second offers from publishers. Both of which I turned down. (That is another story.) But Review was here in Santa Fe, so it didn’t quite feel like getting back out into the world.
I had also attended this event as a photographer. Eighteen years ago to be exact. I know this number, and the date, because my father died in front of me on that trip. My parents came to Florida knowing that my wife and I were there but only my mother returned home. It was, as you can imagine, quite a memorable experience. One that I am glad I was there to endure.
This year, thankfully, I didn’t lose any family members. A photographer in Maine called the founder of the festival and said “You should get Milnor, he’s a good speaker.” This photographer invites me to speak to her classes when I’m in Maine, so she had first hand knowledge of what and how I present. The festival asked what I could teach. I gave them three options. Me teaching bookmaking and Zines, me teaching photography or me co-teaching with someone else. They chose the first two options, plus had me give a public lecture and review portfolios.
Basically, I was on call for one event per day, so constant but entirely manageable compared to many of my past Blurb events where I might do twenty talks or workshops in a fifteen day period plus media, public meetups, panels, etc. This job can be completely full-on at times, but thankfully this was a nice, easy pace. I should mention, however, that the faculty at FOTOfusion is stacked, so when I wasn’t teaching I was spending time with photographers, editors, agency directors, software people, art consultants and others. I also attended other workshops like a cyanotype class with Jill Enfield and Brendan Bannon. (I met Brendan while working on my Sicily project back in the late 1990s. His dad Tony ran the George Eastman House for years and is also a good friend.) Jill is super cool and is a master at alternative processes.
Teaching is the primary reward with an event like this. To hear a student say “You blew my mind,” or “I am so motivated I feel like I need to walk outside the building and start something,” is why I do this. In addition, it is enjoyable to catch up with so many friends as well as connect with new faces that inspired me to do more. David Burnett, Robert Pledge, Andrea Modica, Scott Mc Kiernan, Lewis Kemper and Veronika Lukasova were among this list. (Plenty of others….)
One of my failings on this trip was that I didn’t produce much work, nor did I produce much for Blurb social channels. I wasn’t asked to that, but I always try to be as productive as I can while I’m away. I normally post daily from these events, and I normally record far more than I did on this trip. I won’t get into all the reasons for this, mostly because they aren’t that exciting, but I plan on remedying this in the future. I actually find producing to be one of the most rewarding aspects of being on the road. That damn storytelling thing I can’t seem to get enough of.
The lead image on this post is important because it features a picture package from my time in Florida. This was the same assignment I gave students in one of my classes. Go shoot three-to-five related images instead of shooting random pictures. Edit a tight three-to-five then do it again before looking for links that connect your pictures packages. The worse the location, the better this works. I settled on pink, as you can see above and below. Is this great work? No. But, I use this technique to maintain photo fitness. Gives one a cause when it comes to looking around.