The conundrum of my photographic identity

It’s very upbeat and in-time to write about your personal issues correlated to your art form. I’ve read so many of these posts from various artists that I get quite suspicious as to the reasoning behind said posts. I always suspected alterior, sales-oriented motifs. That is until I started writing them myself. I could suddenly see the benefits in using my blog as a venting platform for my frustrations and my joy. I don’t do it often (I think!) because I don’t want to be the whining Dane. My life is great. I have no real issues. I never really had.
My childhood was good. So was my youth. I studied medicine. Went on to become a father and a doctor. On top of that I get to conceive and convey my art to thousands of people worldwide.

So why do I need to vent? Yet again!

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Let me take you back a month or two. I had just finished doing promotional pack shots for Fujifilm, I had field-tested and written lengthy blogposts on 3 new Fujifilm products all at once. The response was overwhelming. The amount of traffic to this site was off the charts. I was at the launch event in London, and I returned home to continue the whole Instagram promotional thing. Everything was good. But for what had I done this? Or more importantly, who?

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It used to be for me. I used to just do my thing, with not much thought to it.

Photograph – Be inspired – publish – interact – enjoy!

But this time around, it suddenly felt like it was all about something else. All of a sudden, I was thinking numbers, visibility, likes……. and honestly. I f***ing HATED it. The thing that I used to love. The thing that used to drive me creatively and inspirationally suddenly had become diminished to and by social media marketing propaganda bullshit!

And this feeling spread. It made me open my eyes a little wider, and it made me see beyond my usual little pond. It made me question the motifs of some of those around me in the photographic community. I soon found out that there are a lot of rotten eggs in the basket. I started feeling like a goddamn poster. And you know what that does to you? – Let me tell you. It makes you feel like shit!
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So I started something that I hope will save me from myself. I started a journey inward. I started a cleansing process that eliminates everything that does not give me joy. And I’m going at it with as much sincerity and consequence as I can muster!

Will I stop doing reviews? No way! Because I love doing them. But I will probably do things a little different. We’ll see. As long as I’m in it for me!

Will I skip my social media involvement? – To an extent. And I already have. I was a member of no less than 109 Facebook groups regarding photography. Most of it about Fujifilm. I quit them all. There are some amazing people in a lot of them, and it has nothing to do with them. It was all about resetting.
As for Instagram, I like posting stuff there. It’s a scaled down photo-diary for me. I love it, so I’ll continue on that platform.

Other than that I’ll keep this blog alive, by returning to what drove me to start it. My passion. Thank you for visiting and hanging around so far. Have some patience while I get this thing back on the track that feels right to me.

jr050680

50 thoughts on “The conundrum of my photographic identity

    1. It is about reclaiming autonomy, identity and thus restoring authority… when all the new fuji stuff was released it was mesmerising to see how all the blogs and Facebook groups… in a well orchestrated dance… released their ‘reviews’… i hope you can dance your own dance Jonas… it is worth watching…

      1. Hi Koen. Thank you so much for your thoughts! – I really agree. It’s about keep pushing forward. Keep the dance going. But to to my own beat 🙂

        – And I don’t know if I was being unclear about this point. I’m still going to be doing my thing here on my blog. Just a little differently 😉

        Thank you for reading. /J

  1. Yeah I can completely see how this would burn out even people that were single and this was their main source of income, but as a professional doctor, husband and parent I honestly don’t know how you did it.

    I am nowhere near the level of photography chops as many of the people I look to for inspiration but the more I think about it and read posts like yours, I am completely fine with that. As long as I enjoy the photography then I am in it for MY own right reasons.

    Good for you for knowing when to call it quits on the overload and I hope you can dial it back to basics and still share your beautiful photography and we’ll written reviews for the rest of us.

    1. Hey Scott.
      Thank you (again) for your comment. You really do contribute so much to the debate on this site. I’ really happy about that.

      It’s not a time issue, or overcoming issue. I could keep on doing this for a long time as I have done so far. But the point is, that it brings me less and less joy. So I have chosen to restructure a bit. So I will probably be using the same amount of time, but I will be using it less on bullshit, and more on creating my art and what I feel gives me joy.

      So this blog will probably liven up a bit, cause it is one of the things I truly love doing. Blogging.

      /J

      1. This is the most fantastic news and one of the reasons I started visiting your blog and looking forward to your gear “opinions” in the first place. Happy to know you’re starting a self intervention to get back to HAPPY!

        I try my best to get less caught up in the gear and just focusing on capturing stuff i will look at when i am old and enjoy. Accolades on social media should not be the main motivator for anything in life, even if your income depends on it really.

  2. Personally I wouldn’t give so much thought to it as some things are not meant to be in words, a time I felt something similar when I felt that my blog (an intended personal diary) was being seen more like a blog, and it comes a temptation to failure to come back to roots, but in the end probably nobody cares xD Good luck, if you go with your gut I’d say things are not going to be happier always but at least we have inner tranquility.

    1. Hi Francis,

      It’s exactly about that. Nobody cares. And to think that on the basis of likes is a downward spiral in itself. But if you turn around and do things that feels right on their own, then you can sustain even the most crazy of tasks.

      Thank you for being a reader.

      /J

  3. Always looking inward for joy and inspiration. Thank you for the reminder. We’ve all been there. It’s the recognition that begins the process. Enjoy the process. Jan

  4. Good for you Jonas. Your photography and blogs are always a pleasure to read, but if they’re giving you no pleasure or even worse, making you feel bad, then it’s time to withdraw a bit. The web is a frustrating place at the moment for photographers, to much critique, and a bit of unpleasantness. I’ll look forward to seeing your photography on Insta a still racing you blog posts, so I certainly hope you won’t pack everything in. Good luck and here’s hoping for happier thoughts and a clear head.
    Cheers
    Bob

    1. Hi Bob. Thank you for reading.

      I do feel pleasure from blogging and my photography, but just some aspects of it all makes me sick to my stomach. So I just decided to change that up a bit. Spend my time more wisely. Getting back to pure joy. Shouldn’t be that hard. I have been there before, right? 😉

      Thank you for your continued support man!
      /J

      1. Several things to keep in mind…

        People are more likely to complain than to praise. That is just human nature.

        If one person likes something you do and tells you, you can bet there are many more who do not write to let you know.

        I have a small blog. I write about subjects that are of interest to me. If I can help one person every now and then, I get joy from that.

        You should feel good that so many people found a reason to comment on your post. You obviously touched others for one reason or another.

        And last – What you amass while you are on earth may disappear when you are gone. What you leave behind for others in the form of inspiration, teaching and example remains behind and lives on.

        When you do what inspires you, you are bound to inspire others. I enjoy reading your posts and “listening” to what you say. It encourages me to evaluate my own emotions and motives.

        Best wishes – J. Ross

        1. Hey J.

          You’re right. But it’s precisely that I don’t really want to feed off of that. Cause it makes my creativity suffer.
          So it’s easier to churn it down a little bit 🙂

          Thank you for reading. /J

  5. Jonas — I have never been involved with social media in the way you have, but I’ve read that over time, that much immersion in social media can make a person feel like being caught on an endless carousel (all the while being slowly ground up in a food processor). When it reaches that point, stepping off the carousel sounds like a very good idea. Your writing and your photographs are informative, eye-opening, entertaining, and moving. However you want to continue sharing your work will be welcomed.

  6. I hope you get back to where you want to be. You certainly helped lure me into the Fuji world and I’ve enjoyed the change.
    Question. I noticed that the exif on a few of your photos above says 35mm F1. Is that with an adapted lens on your x-pro2? Fuji doesn’t have an f1 lens do they?

    1. Thank you Jake. I’m already well on my way. The last couple of weeks have been truly invigorating!

      – Oh didn’t I clear those exif? Whoops! 😛

      …………….. Nah it’s just the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 mk2 being used 🙂

  7. Well told reflections and good to take note of and thank you for another opportunity to become a bit wiser on this excellent hobby.

  8. I appreciate your art and your honesty. Happy to continue following you on IG as I truly love your work! Still trying to figure out how you manage to fit it all in! Best of luck!

  9. Hi Jonas
    Great pictures – as usual. Very expressive childrenportraits. And your writings are food for thought. Keep on!!
    Knud Haaning

  10. First step get off Facebook. Well done. I did the same a few years ago because I felt I was obligated to Something or Someone. Now that has gone. Continue the passion.

  11. Thanks for the post Jonas. It struck a chord with me too. I sometimes feel like social media has become competitive (not that I compete very well!) and question whether I’m posting images for me or someone else. Glad to hear you’ll continue the blog though!

    1. Hi Paul.

      Yeah. Photography as competitions is such Bullshit! – The whole Photocompetitions and awards is just silly! – People treat it as a sport, and they wonder why it’s so hard for contemporary photographers to get acknowledged for their art.

      I wanna rid my self of ALL that!

      Thank you for reading along

      /J

  12. Well Jonas, you don’t know me and I don’t know you, there’s no reason why I would read your blog excepted happened to pop up on Flipboard this morning.

    Let me tell you a story…

    Fotry years ago I faced a choice. I knew it was a good enough musician that if I worked really hard at it, hustled, I got one or two lucky breaks, I could probably make a living playing music. I would probably never get rich or be a superstar, but I could end up with a life like my musician friends have, traveling from bar to bar playing same 150 minutes of music over and over again, and getting an occasional wedding gig or recording thing. I decided that I didn’t want to subject my art to the pressures of the market, and I didn’t. I play out once in a while still, and I play every day in my office, and music remains a nourishing part of my life.

    In America in 2017, the market wants to eat everything. We have adopted business and capitalism as the ruling metaphor for our entire existence. If you love something, then you should make it your livelihood, even if making your livelihood causes you to hate it. We confuse what is good with what will sell. People are no longer people, they are brands. We no longer spend time with people we like, we network. There are just two places that assert a counter argument to this – religion and the arts, which claim there is something of intrinsic value in us, something that cannot be bought and sold.

    You fed your art and your self to the market Jonas, in the market obliged you by doing what it does. It ate you I gave you money in return. Good for you for taking yourself back.

  13. Jonas-

    I’m a few more years down the road than you (having finished medical school in the 80s). I have also never tried to have any sort of commercial presence in social media or the web although I have toyed with blogs, instagram and Flickr. Perhaps because of the generational gap, I have never felt any obligation to keep up with any of it. If I feel like doing so and have something to share, I do so. If not, I ignore it. Of course, rather than generational it may be because of that lack of commercial pressure; whatever the reason, I hope you find the ability to assume the same laissez-faire attitude that I have and hope that it will rejuvenate your passion which I admire. I don’t contribute much to the conversation but have enjoyed your insights (and more importantly, been inspired by your photography) over the last few years. I hope this change will work for you and clarify your “voice” and your art; for our sake and for yours. I really enjoy your written work (both with words and with light). Thanks a lot.

    -Bill (schralpr)

    1. Hi Bill.

      I love that I have other physicians coming here! Through a joint passion of everything but medicine!
      The whole thing does indeed seem to belong to a generation. Sadly I’m part of that generation. But I can only do my little rebellion to sleep sound at night. It gives me peace to know that I am taking steps to ensure my integrity.

      Thank you so much for reading.

      /J

  14. Hi Jonas

    A work is A work, when work is done, its FUN TIME, have some fun and relax.

    There are people following you and eagerly to see your new post(as long as there are new ones), so, just cheer up, By the way, we love your commercial post.

    A humble request, if you could still post on flickr, that would be good.

  15. Your photography and writing about photography (including reviews) are incredibly inspiring to me. As an amateur, I need to see great photos that give me ideas so that I can develop and improve. I have spent so much time looking at your photographs, and also trying to figure out how you use light, shadows, colour (I would love to occasionally read about how you achieved a certain photo!). I often look at the work of my favourite photographers like Ray Metzker, Vivian Maier, Garry Winogrand, and my favourite Fuji photographers like you, laROQUE and others, for inspiration and ideas. Whatever you do, please keep posting your photos and reviews somewhere!

  16. Hi Jonas,

    I do enjoy reading your blog, but have refrained to post until now, limiting myself to just viewing your photos. What you wrote and the decisions you made come as no surprise to me, since your photos always had an introspective feeling, as if every photo was telling how you interpret the moment in time on the photo – there’s almost a zen quality to them.
    What you said about nobody caring is so true. That was the main reason I left all social media and quit posting photos, because I realised I was taking photographs because of others, so that others may like it, and so they did, or did not, and everyone forgot about them a moment later. That was the moment of realisation that I do really have to take photographs because of me and express my Weltanschauung and my soul, to use a cliche.
    Your reviews of Fuji cameras and lenses are wonderful, because everyone can see how much joy and willingness to get out and take photos they give you, and also bring me closer to buy some of them, because your reviews trnsfer the idea of what a photo camera should be. Btw, of all your photos, the photo of an old man sitting (from Greece, I think), has struck me the most. One could write a book based on it.
    Cheers, and best of luck on your inward journey-it’s the hardest of all.

  17. jonas, your heart (and art) has always been in the right place!!!
    follow your gut, and everything will fall in place.

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