Monthly Archives: January 2014

Photography as photography and not as representation

Most visitors to my studio ask questions such as – Where was that taken? Is that really a photograph? Who is that person, or where is she from? How did you take it? etc. I’ve even heard people asking, when looking at a complete abstraction of some trees, Where did you see these trees?

All these questions reveal a – perhaps unrecognized – assumption, namely that photography is about representing something in the known or perceived world, of something I can relate to because “I have also been there” or “I like trees too” or “this reminds me of a holiday we were on where I also took some photos like this…”

What does this tell?

Let’s notice that the same comments would not come up if they had been to a gallery or museum and enjoyed oil paintings. You don’t look at Monet’s lillies, Kelly’s geometric figures, Johns’ flags or Pollock’s paintings and ask questions such as those above. There is an implicit assumption that the painting is a painting in and of itself and that it can be even abstract or painted in a style in which it distances itself from some kind of real world objects. The painting is permitted to be a reality of its own, the photograph is supposed to be representational. Well, not always, but often.

In the first years when visitors asked me questions of the above type, I easily jumped in and answered something like Continue reading

On Google+ from January 2014

Happy new photo and art year 2014!
I’ve found that Facebook is becoming too expensive, attempting to squeeze money out of you.
Say that some months ago you posted a link and it would be seen “organizally” by 400- 500 people on their feeds (if there was a photo, perhaps more). Over the last few months, this organic reach on Facebook has gone down to about half of that, or less.
I suppose Zuckerberg and Co.’s idea is that we shall pay for the difference – “promote” our post by paying 5, 10 or more dollars. That add up over the years…
In addition, I must say that Facebook’s compression of photos leaves a lot to be desired. Many have seen it when they upload their timeline photo and it is blurred and losing its crisp quality.
Here is one of my first experimental photos of 2014
Western Geisha 2011 © Jan Oberg 2013

Western Geisha 2011 © Jan Oberg 2013

I could add that it is difficult also to make any sales from a Facebook photo page, no matter how many links you make back to your homepage with interesting materials. But that is not the essential argument; for me it is the diminishing organic reach and the low image quality on Facebook that has bothered me for some time.

So, in 2013 I opened up on Pinterest and this year I have begun to learn and use Google+. I’ve got a page in English with a lot of international stuff and my own international production and a a page in Nordic languages that touches also upon the cultural life of Lund where I live – or the lack of it.
One of several articles on the Internet that persuaded me was this multi-dimensional argument by Colby Brown, a brilliant professional photographer.
I like the idea of better compression, photos appear amazingly crisp on Google+. I also like the idea of differentiated circles of people you relate to and how one can relate to each other and share interests without imposing oneself.
The layout of a Goggle+ page is much more elegant and pleasantly minimalistic than Facebook’s anything but elegant design. And, not the least, Google+ is open in a way, Facebook is not. Public materials reach Google’s search engine and has a potentially wide reach outside the Goggle+ community – which is not the case with what you post on Facebook (except that you are there yourself, but not your photo page).
Overall, it seems to me also that Google+ is more interest-based and “serious” – which Facebook can also be but certainly isn’t overall. The response of Likes etc is pretty superficial.
Whatever argument one can bring up, one must be open to the possibilities of the social media – to strengthen both the common interests in the profession but, of course, also to reach potential clients out there.
It’s been quite some time back I found out that one cannot base a photo activity – or even having the costs covered – by friends, family and a few interested people in the local community.  They can be great as your art critics and as a springboard for a much wider marketing efforts in our globalized world.
So let’s meet at Google+ Oberg PhotoGraphics – and build some circles together!