Daniel Milnor: Notes on Photography | Llamadas

Notes on Photography is a blog series all about images. Each month, Daniel Milnor will revisit an old photograph and share his notes on what works within each shot, what he would do differently, and why.

Llamadas, Uruguay, 2012

Notes on Photography, Llamadas

What worked?

What worked?

This image was shot with a 50mm at about f/4 or f/4.5. The background was too busy, and there were too many other people to use a 35mm.  My goal was to use the lens to stack and compress a foreground, mid ground, and background, the same thing I would do with a wide angle.

Critical focus
The fact that the woman in critical focus is turning her head and having a small moment, either with herself or with someone else, draws you in.

What didn’t work?

What didnt work?

The image is weighted slightly too far to the left. I needed to either take one small step forward or turn my lens to the right slightly. This would have eliminated that empty space on the left (highlighted in white).

Now, I could crop, but I came from the full frame tradition, which means NO cropping. You might think this is silly, but this is the level of critique that real photographers discuss when they’re talking with someone who holds themselves to a high standard.

What do you think makes a great photo? Share your thoughts below. Make a photo book part of your everyday workflow with Blurb’s Book Module in Adobe Lightroom.



  • David Chigusa says:
    May 17 at 03:02

    Very helpful critique. But … “I came from the full frame tradition, which means NO cropping. You might think this is silly.” Yes, I do think that’s silly! Isn’t it just needlessly punishing yourself?

    1. Daniel Milnor says:
      May 23 at 01:41

      Hey David,
      Not silly to anyone who went through that training. In essence it’s about being good in the field, precise, and not leaving that to the post production process. When shooting on deadline you often don’t get time to do post anyway, so it has to be right in the field. This is one reason why you see images printed with full rebate, which shows precisely what the photographer captured in the field.

      1. David Chigusa says:
        May 23 at 06:48

        Hi Daniel, I completely understand about wanting to get it as right as possible when shooting. So should everyone. But post-processing is equivalent to what with film is called developing, which is not considered a luxurious, somehow slightly dishonest, option – nor a negative to have greater “authenticity” than a print. I repeat: ditching a perfectly salvageable file because you don’t consider it perfect out of the camera is needlessly punishing yourself, and is potentially denying the world a great photo. (And talk about “tradition” doesn’t interest or impress me. Self-flagellation is a tradition too!)

        1. Daniel Milnor says:
          May 23 at 09:09

          Hey D,
          It has nothing to do with honest or dishonest. It has everything to do with a certain type of skill. Most people could care less about this, but I spent four years in PJ school having this pounded into my skull, so I have reasons for why I attempt to work this. Authenticity with photography, in many ways, has been left behind. It’s up to each of us to operate in the way we see fit. I had no intention of attempting to impress anyone. I’ll leave that to the lifeguards.

          1. David Chigusa says:
            May 23 at 10:52

            Hi Dan, PJ school – now I get it. I should have done so sooner, but I read your Leica interview and had a look at your portfolio on PhotoShelter and am awed. (You more than authenticate your tradition!) Yet, are you saying that those amazing portfolio pix were all straight out of the camera – as far as that is possible with film?

          2. Daniel Milnor says:
            May 23 at 11:34

            David, I forgot to mention one thing….LUCK. Lots and lots of LUCK. You are more than kind. I’ve certainly never done anything that hasn’t been done before, but I still love trying to make solid photographs. Vast majority of those images were film and none of those were cropped, but all of them were dodged and burned, so six of one, half dozen of the other.

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