Why do you shoot personal work?
Daniel Milnor: Short answer: Because I know with 100% certainty it is the best work I do.
Long answer: I don’t have a choice. From the time I was a boy I felt an incredible need to record things. This curse started with notebooks. I would record overheard conversations, classroom lectures and family discourse. Eventually I began to write my own fictional stories, mostly about action/adventure characters maiming each other with Kung-Fu and Chinese throwing stars. My lead actors would singlehandedly slaughter hundreds of bad guys, my imagination an orgy of destruction and violence. When I was in elementary school I got my hands on my first ‘real’ camera, a Vivitar point-and-shoot with a built in flash. The first time I put the camera to my eye I realized I was at ‘ass’ level with most of the adults around me. So, I began a comprehensive yet informal study of the human ass. No one was immune. I worked on my family members, our dog, strangers and anyone else that happened to walk by. I had the images printed and carefully compiled them in a flip-book that I casually left on our coffee table. The response was favorable, as adult after adult opened the book and began to howl. If I remember correctly, my opening spread was our family dog, from behind of course, with his naughty bits dangling in impressive form. Based on the response, I knew photography, and personal work, were for me. In short, I’ve never stopped with this general theme, although I did move away from the ass as primary subject. Now, when I’m in the field and balancing a modern, complex and stressful life, I find that making pictures is one of the rare times when nothing else matters. I hear nothing, I see nothing outside of what wanders into my path and subsequent framelines. Failure is common. Pain is normal. Mental anguish my constant companion. This work is far too important for there to be a client involved. And when the dust settles, hopefully years from now, and my odd smattering of friends stands over the hole containing my lifeless remains, there will not be tears, but instead there will be rejoicing in the idea of there being a record of my time on this Earth.