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Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Industry Icon -- Garth Milan


Motocross photographer Garth Milan, far away from his seminal days as a photographer for Cycle News at the Perris Raceway.

Garth Milan is one of the most requested photographers of all time on the freestyle motocross circuit. His shots run everywhere, from US magazines like Racer X to the overseas titles, and he's been around since virtually the beginning of FMX. As a young racer on the circuit, Milan would often show up for the local races in Perris, Calif., compete and later shoot photos of the same event, which got him his start in Cycle News. From here, he continued to hone his photography skills, later working at Dirt Rider, TransWorld MX and ultimately deciding that it was best for him to branch out and become his own creative director at The Medium Creative Group.

With a true MX background and an extensive knowledge of the sport, Garth Milan has created some of the most iconic photography in motocross, and it's this unique touch that leads me to believe he's become an industry icon. Recently, I hit Garth up to shed some light on him in exchange for all the cool shots he's run of me throughout the years.

This is Garth Milan.

ESPN.com: What have you been up to lately?
Milan: Just working like crazy, continuing to build our business, The Medium Creative Group. We're a small creative agency out of Costa Mesa, Calif. that specializes in action sports. I've had so many cool shoots lately, so I feel pretty fortunate. It's been an awesome year filled with lots of traveling and shooting.

"As for racing, it's hard for me to not give 100%." says Milan.

You used to write race recaps for Cycle News?
Actually, I never wrote reports for them, but I did contribute pictures from the local races at Perris Raceway. It's pretty funny -- the infamous Tony Alessi (Mike's dad) wrote the reports, and I shot the pics. I didn't begin writing for magazines until I began working for Dirt Rider Magazine, back in the '90s.

Were you racing at that time as well?
I was. When I was doing the Cycle News shots, I was racing, so I just brought my camera to the track and shot some random races. I remember shooting lots of pics of guys like Mike Metzger, Larry Linkogle, and even you on your RM80. In those days, it was all serious racing -- no FMX fun yet, but they were still good times for sure. I continued riding and racing occasionally all the way through my days with TransWorld, about four years ago. Now, I no longer have time to ride, but you have to set your priorities I guess.

Was riding one of your passions? And what would you say your passion is now?
Riding has always been one of my passions, but now it has just shifted a bit. I am still a huge fan of the sport, and I still ride street bikes a lot. Bottom line, I'll never stop riding motorcycles. In fact, I just got back from a camping trip where I rode my dual-sport out to Ocotillo. But as for racing, it's hard for me to not give 100%. I used to eat, sleep, and breathe racing, so now it's tough to only have the time to ride about once every few weeks, and it just becomes more frustrating than anything. My passion now is just shooting and growing the business, hanging with my wife and dogs, and just trying to continue to learn and grow as an artist.

Red Bull FMX team freeriding trip at Imperial Valley, Glamis Sand Dunes, Calif.

When did you start shooting FMX?
I started shooting FMX back in the late '90s. I have so many cool memories of those early days. It's pretty cool to have vivid memories of seeing Larry's CR at Perris raceway with the misspelled (and now famous) Metal Mulisha logo drawn on his fenders with a Sharpie. I also remember meeting Deegan and Faisst when they first moved out to Cali. Wow, it's been almost 15 years now.

How long have you been shooting photos?
I have been shooting for just over 15 years now. I got into shooting in my late teens, as I recall, and I'm now an old guy at 35.

What is your ideal perfect day to shoot?
My perfect day to shoot is out in some scenic hills with my friends, right after a fresh rain shower, with lots of nice jumps all shoveled up and ready to go. Probably the same answer you'd give to that question, right?

What clients are you currently working with?
I'm now shooting exclusively for Racer X, as far as editorial goes. Beyond the FMX I do, our group will go to each and every Supercross race this year for Racer X, as well as companies like Red Bull and DC Shoes. We also shoot all of the new products every month for Racer X in the studio, so they keep us busy and things are going great with them. I've always had a ton of respect for Davey Coombs, so it's cool getting to work with such a legend in the sport.

When did you start the Medium Creative Group?
We started The Medium in late 2007, so we are just celebrating our fourth year together as a group.

What does the Medium Creative Group do?
We like to think of The Medium Creative Group as a one-stop creative shop for advertising and brand building. We do everything from commercial photography work (my end of the spectrum), to advertising and catalog design and website building (my business partner's forte.) For instance, we do all creative for Shoei Helmets North America, meaning we do everything from building and maintaining their website, to designing their trade show booths, to planning and shooting their magazine ads and web videos. Most of our work comes from the surf/skate/moto industry, but we also cater to more mainstream clients like Nike, where we've helped out with their football program.