"To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect" - Oscar Wilde
Modern - what does it really mean?
Modern is a word that gets thrown around pretty often these days and it could be helpful to quickly take a look at the definition to see what it really means - via Google
Relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past.
A person who advocates or practises a departure from traditional styles or values.
The creative approach of Berlin & Stockholm based photographer and filmmaker Per Zennstrom is thoroughly modern even if he himself says that he considers himself a classic photographer that just adds an edgy twist to his images. However he is not a photographer that dwells in the past, on the contrary he thrives on “exploring the edges of photography” as he puts it.
Fashion Photography History
For example when digital cameras first appeared he was one of the first to start exploring the possibilities of this new technology to see what value could be added to his offers for his clients.
Being modern, or contemporary, is also much more than the surface, or style of the images or the tech you choose to use. It's the whole mindset behind the creative processes and it's here that Per is really cutting edge. He is a keen advocate of creatives learning from and adopting business practises from the tech - and startup culture.
This sort of thinking allows him to take much bigger responsibilities and today he is often trusted to be more of a Creative Director - with a broader responsibility over the project - than just a photographer.
The New Photographer
“Clients are paying less and less - if they pay at all…”
“Everyone with a camera seems to think that they are a photographer”
“How can I compete, when anyone with a DSLR is happy to have their image published - without payment”
These are actual quotes from colleagues and friends of mine venting their frustration with the situation they are finding themselves in. Let’s face it - the old models on how to make it as a photographer (or creative) seems to be broken. Is there a way forward - out of this?
Yes, but we need some new thinking and we need to acquire some new skills to move ahead. I propose that there is in fact a way out of this dilemma, you don’t have to participate in this “race to the bottom”
We happen to find ourselves in a time when really great photography is available everywhere, accessible to all, for very low price or even free, right click.
You certainly can’t beat free. What to do?
Has photography become a commodity? Many seem to agree on that images has gone the same way as rice, cotton or copper.
A commodity is a product that has the same characteristics no matter who produces it and if your photography has become a commodity the only way to different yourself from the rest is by lowering your price, the famous race to the bottom.
The only way out of that dilemma is to change the value proposition that you offer your clients. We used to offer photography, we now have to offer something else, preferably with a higher value to the client...
Here an example of the process of change. A few years ago the venerable NYTimes, realised that they were no longer in the newspaper business but rather in the news business. With print sales dropping they had to change. They took a deep look at themselves , made major changes and among a thousand other major changes started to produce long form pieces like the famous Snow Fall piece.
I say photographers have to do the same thing. We have to start taking more responsibility for the whole process. We don’t want to be in the photography business anymore but rather in the image/storytelling business. On a sidenote, Fotoskolan STHLM, where I sometimes lecture and teach, is no longer a photoschool. They are now teaching Visual Communication.
When I try to tell people what I do I usually say that I'm a fashion photographer and the next thing I say is usually thatI'm exploring the edges of photography.
Well, this is what it actually looks like.
I started to look around on the edges of photography and I got hooked on all the hybrid forms of moving image, be it gifs, cinemagraphs, 3D or full fledged video or film.
In this particular example I revisited my archive and found this image of a girl, painted red, against a golden disk. I picked this image because the elements were easy to separate from each other. Once I had done that I simply imported all the images into After Effects and started to experiment with 3D space, camera movement and lighting.
ABSOLUT VODKA, ALTEWAI.SAOME, BENTLEY, Biba Paris, Bon Magazine, DIOR, Elle (French/German/Swedish), GALLERIE LAFAYETTE PARIS, GUY LAROCHE, HAHNEMÜHLE, H&M, LEICA, Marie Claire, MICHAEL SONTAG, Madame, MARC AUREL, MARC O’POLO, NINA RICCI, PORSCHE DESIGN, Qvest, Rolling Stone, SCHWARZKOPF, S:T EMILE, TOM TAILOR, TONI & GUY, Tush,
Shows & Exhibitions
Per Zennstrom Photography, Bornholmerstrasse 88, 10439 Berlin.