Read: Snapshots and Postcards

Permalink 20 Comments


Well, it appears as if 2016 is upon us and it’s not going anywhere. I was thinking maybe the world would end,but I’m getting notices for tax season, so apparently we are all to carry on as usual. I’m home finally. The holidays are a strange time when people do and say strange things, and the brutal reality of family takes center stage. The holidays are not for the faint of heart. The smart holiday traveler prepares to return home a shattered and humbled shadow of their pre-holiday self.

I typically go to either New Mexico or Texas. New Mexico is a selfish locale where I have to do little outside of write, read, practice guitar, hike and attend a bevy of holiday parties where I do what I do best… off. (I’m kidding. That’s actually a line from Smokey and the Bandit.) Being in the mountains, in Santa Fe, is good for me because I can disappear, which is something I dream about doing on a near daily basis. Texas on the other hand is all about family. This year I pulled a 19.5 hour straight through drive, by myself, and when I turned off the diesel my tires were on Hill Country soil. I love going home, seeing mom, bro, sis, sister-in-law, niece(x2) and nephew. It’s rare we are all together, but when we are it’s fantastic. Mom cooks. I consume insane amounts of food and then lay around with my pants unbuttoned and nobody says anything. Did I mention we are total rednecks? Well, sorry, hillbillies is more accurate considering the ground from which are roots flower so beautifully.

Inevitably someone in the family will do or say something that reveals the hillbillyness of our family is lurking right under the surface. Luckily, all the relatives come from a family tree with healthy branches. WHEW. Another of my favorite things to do during this time is to dig around in my mom’s stuff. Nobody knows what’s really there, including her, so I never know what I will find. This trip I found a photo album. Not mine. Not hers. Her mother’s, so my grandmother’s photo album.

As you would imagine, the photo album was OLD. REALLY old. The images were made on some type of black and white Polaroid that produced a positive print, or something that LOOKED like a black and white Polaroid. The images were perfectly intact. Some were glued into the book while others were held by photo corners, the ornate kind with the little ruffle pattern. Girly in all the right ways.

The images were very simple, but the overall impact of their sum was overwhelmingly cool. I could not stop looking at these things. The images were simple, but the way their were made increased their viability and beauty. Even a simple image of a small boy standing became a majestic portrait. I also noticed something else. Each event in the family’s history was recorded with either a single image, or at the most, two images. That was all that was required. Seeing those two images gave me all the information I needed to see.

I was reminded of two things. Okay three. First, you don’t need much. I see family’s snapping hundreds if not thousands of images a day and wonder what in the Hell are they going to do with those things, let alone who is going to store them. My initial guess would be NOTHING and THEY AREN’T. At least they are recording. But I digress. The second thing that I was reminded of was the power of the snapshot. Having studied photography, and spending the better part of the last twenty-five-years mired in it, I was trained to “go beyond the snapshot,” like the snapshot was somehow a lesser version of photography, and my elite audience would demand something of higher caliber, perhaps something with a tilt?????? I actually think now the polar opposite is true. Snapshots are money baby. Like a found suitcase of fat stacks of untraceable 20’s. NOTHING is better. Lastly, print. Book, magazine, individual prints, any and all. Making these postcard prints is easy and fun.

So, I wanted to share with you what I do now. This is the grand sum of my photography life. Well, okay, there is a TINY sliver of shooting for Blurb, but even that is very, very rare these days. What do I do now? I shoot snapshots and make postcards. The image at the head of this post is of three postcards I sent out today. I RARELY print anything of myself, or even make pictures of myself, but when it comes to talking shit about fishing I’ll break all my own rules. This went out to a friend with only “I’m so tired of winning” on the back.

I shoot snapshot style images. I print those images. I mail those images out. Done. Now, when I say I shoot “snapshot style images,” I’m actually looking for something specific. Like dissecting a photo-essay and ONLY using the scene setter, or the portrait or the city-view without using anything else. So, when people ask me, “Hey Milnor, you suave fool, what did you do on your holiday?” I can show them three images. “Ah, well, I did these things.” And then I throw in a “YeeeeeeHaaaaawww” as I do a burn out while throwing Bud Light cans from my passenger window.

Included above are my ingredients for a successful postcard campaign. I travel with this printer, so the postcard game is a full-time pursuit for me. Now, I know what you are thinking. When I post this some hipster will see the post and steal the postcard idea. Then, as with all things hipster, thousands of hipsters will be doing postcards. Then will come the burnout and subsequent expulsion of postcards from the realm of hipster cool. Like VW van’s or beards or film cameras or tattoos or whatever. This might happen. But I don’t care. I will be here in the background doing my thing. Cool or not cool. Let them steal.

If you want to trade postcards get me your address. Not sure if I can or will get to everyone, but I like expanding my mailing list. Often times I send postcards to people I don’t even know. Keeps things interesting.

Comments 20

  1. Can’t believe the timing of this. And after I commented on your earlier post too. I sent you a postcard from a print yesterday. Spooky

    1. Post
  2. That would be cool, be great to catch up again. Hopefully weather will be kinder in April than it was when you visited last time 🙂

    1. Post
  3. Hi Daniel,

    First time poster to your site, but a long time admirer of your photos and writing. I very much enjoyed this post on the importance of snapshots in capturing life’s fleeting moments. I’ve had similar experiences looking at old images in my folks’ photo albums or my grandma’s old albums…..with time, the simple snapshots take on a whole new meaning. Also, as a father of two little ones, I appreciate the snapshot as a simple reminder or record of our journey together.

    As an aside, after reading your snapshot poster yesterday afternoon, I happened to finish a great book last night….Oliver Sacks’ memoir “On The Move.” It’s a terrific read, but he had a very interesting discussion at the end of the book about the importance of “snapshots” in our visual perceptions. Possibly, we perceive our surroundings in individual snapshots rather than continuous stream of imagery. Well worth a read. Thanks again!!

    If you’re every in nyc I would love to buy you a coffee and pick your brain a bit. Take care.

    p.s. Want to thank you for leading me to Flemming and Charlene at Coffee and Magic….great people who helped me put together a terrific website for a solo law practice.

    1. Post


      Alright! Always like to get comments from new commentators. Dialogue is a grand thing. Flemming and Charlene are descending on my house tomorrow…… I think there are people who can consume streams of information. Namely people under 20. They are amazing. The rest of us…it destroys us. We act like it isn’t but it is.

  4. Kind of like the old Big Blue Marble pen pal, but with postcards. I’m in#

    19 Zachary Drive, Allentown, NJ 08501

    1. Post
  5. I used to obsess about the big print and detail, this printer vs that, what glass type…then realised life was too ongoing a project to afford as much wallspace.
    This flies in the face of that. You’ve inspired me to get a little immediacy into my printing.
    Thanks Daniel.

    1. Post

      Big prints are difficult to hang. Small prints, well, easy. I can appreciate a range of prints. Had a silver vs digital conversation today actually, with someone who actually knows what the difference is, but at this point in my life I’m not concerned about any of that. I’m happy with just about anything.

  6. Been “out of service” for a while … You know life. Playing catch up now with your posts. I landed here coming from your march post about postcards. I love the idea, never thought about it but I think is a great one! Who doesn’t like to go to pick up the mail and find something other than bank statements, bills or publicity from the grocery store …
    If you read this and want to add me to your mailing list let me know and I’ll send you my address. And if you write with a return address I promise I’ll send you something back too.
    BTW, that fishing photo is pretty cool. I’m more of a spinning fisherman myself … Anyway, that bass was a beautiful catch. Now I wanna go fishing! lol

  7. Pingback: Even More Postcards | Shifter

  8. Pingback: Read: More Postcards | Shifter

    1. Aaron,

      I use an OLD Canon, super small inkjet that is pretty portable, but it’s so old I can guarantee you can’t still get it. Whatever portable inkjet that suits your fancy will probably work great.

  9. Hi Daniel,

    This is great inspiration. I just saw you mention the manufactorer of the postcards in a youtube video, but it was so quick and there are no links to the product; which is cool. But, you said, to the best of ears (computer’s speakers), Hanamil or Hanamul. I cannot find reference to this brand on the web??? Please can you spell it out of suggest supplier?

    Many thanks,

  10. Hi Daniel – Love your blog by the way, it’s a great kick in the ass when I get lazy. Speaking of, I just self published a zine using Blurb documenting the birth of my second child. Ordered 10 copies and sent them to immediate family along with small 5X7 prints. How about that for a birth announcement, ha?

    Question regarding the Hahnemuehle postcards. I’ve used them before but I have never attempted to mail them. Can you simply throw a stamp on the back of one of them bad boys and send away? Or do you place your postcards in an envelope?

Leave a comment