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The Kid Behind the Camera Lens

Another secret from our August issue.
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The Kid Behind the Camera Lens

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On a Sunday in May, the day after the first protest had torn through the city, Miles Hearne turned up in my inbox. “I hope this email finds you well,” Miles wrote. I inched my mouse toward the trash can icon. “I am a 17-year-old photographer living in Dallas, Texas, and I went to one of the downtown Dallas protests against police brutality.” Index finger poised to click. “I wanted to share some of the best photos with you and your team to use if you see fit.” I delete a lot of email. I’m not sure what made me click on Miles’ Google Drive folder. Maybe because that morning I’d cycled through Deep Ellum and downtown, taking my own pictures of the aftermath.

I would come to learn that Miles was headed into his senior year at Highland Park High School. His folks had moved the family to HP from Lake Highlands for the schools. He’d taken a photography class and caught the bug. Around the same time, he was rooting around in his grandfather’s closet one day and came across an old German-made Exakta camera that had belonged to Miles’ great-grandfather. Miles took pictures with it on a Young Life ski trip to Winter Park, Colorado, and fell even harder for the medium when he learned to develop film and do his own printing in the HP darkroom.

I haven’t talked to Miles’ parents, but they are clearly a flinty duo. When Miles said he wanted a new rig, they made him get a job to pay for it. He signed up with a delivery service that sent him around town mostly with Tiff’s Treats cookies in the passenger seat. That’s how he earned the $2,000 for his new Sony and his first two lenses. The third lens—a $2,800 zoom he needed to shoot the protesters from a safe distance—he’s paying off in installments.

The first two weeks of the protests, Miles took photos every day. He was tear-gassed three times and shot at with sponge bullets. We published many of his images online. This month, a photograph he took of Mark Cuban at Dallas police headquarters appears on our cover. I told Miles weeks ago that we were considering the image and asked him not to say anything on social media. He was delivering some cookies at the time and took the news with a composure that I know I didn’t possess at his age.

Time to share, Miles. D Magazine readers and his classmates alike can check out Miles’ work on Instagram. Mr. and Mrs. Hearne, you done good.