065: Dan Milner/Universal Traveller
“I’m driven to find the humanity in new places”.
Episode 065, and its the final part of my loose Kendal Mountain Festival omnibus this week as I chat to photographer Dan Milner about his career and life in travel.
A truly fascinating story this, as Dan recounts the long, strange trip he has been on since the early 1990s. As a photographer and writer, Dan is equally at home documenting political unrest in South America, following Jeremy Jones throughout the making of the Higher/Deeper/Further trilogy, or undertaking pioneering bike trips to North Korea.
He’s also an articulate, wry and sometimes spiky presence, alive to the experiences on offer throughout the world, but also aware of the inherent contradictions involved in living such a lifestyle.
Naturally, our conversation covered all of this ground, and we also delved deep into Dan’s motivations for following this roving life for so long. This one is an object lesson in how, if you’re lucky, being single-minded, talented and dedicated to a life of experience can enable a career to unfold around you.
I always enjoy Dan’s company, and we had a great time catching up and looking back over his career in this one.
- False starts.
- Dan’s talk at Kendal.
- Mountain biking in North Korea.
- The motivation to discover new places.
- Using the bike to break down cultural barriers.
- The universal act of kicking the tires.
- The football chat.
- Finding the niche that will work for you.
- How Dan crowdfunded his North Korea trip…
- …and the media/brand pitch to make the trips work.
- The specific difficulties of selling the North Korea trip.
- 1000 True Fans.
- The syndication model.
- The reaction of North Korean officialdom.
- North Korean fixers.
- Dan’s early years.
- Formative South American roots.
- Early travel influences.
- First major trip and photographic experiments.
- Poll Tax Riots.
- A genuine alternative worldview.
- The all-encompassing grip of consumerism.
- How to square these concerns with a modern social presence.
- Dan’s introduction to snowboarding…
- …and snowboard media.
- The apprenticeship years.
- ‘My weakness was in the commercial side’.
- The rollercoaster Snowboard UK years.
- In at the deep end with Jeremy Jones.
- Guttenfelder on travel.
- Decompressing after trips.
- The roots of Dan’s work ethic and desire for experiences.
- Relinquishing the desire for control.
- A particular motor at play.
- Handling the frivolity of these pursuits.
- The next trip.