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Dan Milner has seen a lot more of the mountains than you’d expect from a man born in Luton. From shooting political turmoil in Latin America to an era spent snapping backcountry powder around the world, he’s certainly earned his stripes behind the camera lens. Dan made the switch to follow his passion and shoot mountain bikes some years ago now, and the job has taken him from Argentina to Afghanistan and to endless Alps along the way ever since. His work showcases the fragility of the human race by contrasting some of the most stunning views in the world with intimate angles and vantage points. He talks us through 10 of his favourite shots below.
Weirdly for a mountain photographer I come from a very flat place: Luton, England. I was lucky to grow up near a forest though, and that was the place I started riding pushbikes off-road, by sticking cross-country tyres and cow-horn handlebars onto road bikes.
I grew up in the 1970’s, so I had no idea that years later I’d be photographing wild mountain bike trips to Afghanistan. I didn’t know that mountain bikes would exist and I didn’t even know Afghanistan existed.
Compositions always interested me most – they still do. In the 1980’s I travelled a lot, including a seven month solo trip around South America. It was a tumultuous period in Latin American politics, so I got tangled up in street protests, riots and military interventions from Ecuador to Panama. It pushed my photography into new challenges.
Flash to me produces results that look unnatural, even in the natural environments where I shoot…
I spent 15 years shooting snowsports all-year round, travelling to the southern hemisphere to chase winters. I shot my first feature for a mountain bike magazine around 1993, and dabbled for a few years until committing to the professional lifestyle in 1999. Over the last decade or so, my work has moved away from the inherent risks of shooting backcountry snowboarding and skiing to embrace my life-long love of bikes.
I switched to Nikon about seven years ago after both being amazed at the stunning edge-to-edge sharpness of a Nikon 14-24/2.8 lens. I like the way Nikon still have separate dials and levers ergonomically tucked away around the camera body to change settings rather than it all being menu driven.
I’d say my style is dark and moody. I like shadows and silhouettes and almost always shoot into the sun to backlight the subject if I can. It gives images a more dreamlike quality even if you have to blow out highlights. I’m a natural light photographer. Flash to me produces results that look unnatural in the natural environments where I shoot.
My big photography hero is Martin Parr – he’s an iconic photo-reportage photographer that inspires a lot, even if he has nothing to do with ‘adventure’. If it came to adventure photographers though, I’d go for Frank Hurley, the plate-photographer that shot Shackleton’s Endurance Antarctic expedition. His work is incredible and inspirational, and still would be if it were shot today.