Suffering for my art! Why Dan Milner suffers for the art he produces and how suffering doesn’t need to take you to the opposite side of the world
Chatting suffering, art and adventure with Dan Milner in Chamonix
“I have this willingness to push or carry a bike up a trail just to see what’s waiting for us at the top or just to see what’s on the other side.” says Dan as we sit on a mossy rock in the Chamonix valley. We are here to discuss what makes him tick and what drives him to do things differently, and be the “adventure photographer” carving out the niche that we all know and love!?
We have had to privilege of working with Dan on a number of occasions over the past ten years on many adventure epics including Nepal, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan and Patagonia, not to mention the adventures Dan has been on over the yers with other unsuspecting riders, taking them to North Korea, Afghanistan and Russia.
One thing you can be sure of if you were to join Dan on and adventure, by the end of the trip you would have hiked up countless mountains with your bike on your back, crossed numerous rivers, been on every conceivable mode of transport, laughed and I am pretty sure cried (at least inside) throughout our adventures, but its why he keeps looking for the next adventure that intrigues me, why go back to the cave of pain time and time again?
As I sit on that rock with Dan chatting to the camera going through all the various topics in the video, I am left wondering if we are looking at “suffering” the wrong way, are you truly suffering when you are in the environment, adventure and situation that you have chosen, the situation that really makes you tick? Or is this just where Dan works physically and mentally at peak creative capacity, crafting away in his outdoor artist studio creating another work of art?
I would have to say I fully agree with Dan’s approach to capturing his images. In order to capture situations, people, adventure, travel and the world we inhabit, we need to travel authentically and put ourself through the discomfort and toil the story is portraying to the reader. With instagram and everyone owning a camera these days (usually on their phone), readers have become much more sensitive to authenticity, advertising and product placements, and have gained an appreciation of how much dedication and skill is required to capture an authentic moment in the middle of a 7 day crossing of a mountain range in the south of Kyrgyzstan when physically and mentally suffering.
It’s raw. It’s true. It’s art.
But we currently aren’t in North Korea or Afghanistan, we are in Chamonix with one of Europes busiest roads running through it, thats punctuated with villages and towns that seem to carpet the valley floor. So to allow us to get into the mindset, and prove that it can be done, we set off on an adventure in the Chamonix valley to bivvy out under the start in the shadow of Mont Blanc in search of the golden hour and a micro adventure on Dan’s home turf. Sit back and hear what Dan has to say in his own words and to find out if we found the “golden hour”…
Dan – “As a photographer I’m driven to look for scenes that have impact, I’m driven to try and shoot pictures that are going to create some sort of emotional response in people.”