Mikkel Aaland

"It's All An Adventure"

Beyond Pixels – an Invitation-Only UnFestival of Photography.

A happening held April 23-24 2013 to discuss and share visions for the future of photography.
















photo by Hans Peter Brondmo and Mikkel Aaland, co-directors of the Beyond Pixels – the un-festival of photography



Photography is going through yet another enormous transformation.  Pixels have gone mainstream and the expectation now is that almost everyone always has a camera (phone) in their pocket. The implications are far reaching for news, art, social networking, and so much more. And just when you thought you were starting to understand digital photography, the medium is poised to change once again. Computational photography whether in the form of apps on your "camera" or light field technology, is promising to spur yet another revolution in imaging. Where is photography headed? What will the implications on the medium as art and business be?


This year (2013) the Nordic Light International Festival of Photography welcomes to Kristiansund a handpicked group of photography movers and shakers, visionaries, programmers, hackers, and technology gurus from all over the world. Here, in an informal, collaborative and stunningly beautiful environment, they will share ideas and visions and challenges for the future and prepare for what comes next.


What will result? We don't know exactly of course...but it could be new collaborations, new ideas for tools or projects, maybe even a start-up or two.


Beyond Pixels will take place in its own venue—“Festiviteten” (art nouveau)—apart from the classical Nordic Light International Festival of Photography. But the wall that separates the two events is porous and we expect the natural tension that exists between technology and art to produce a beneficial flow of ideas.


UnFestival Co-directors  Mikkel Aaland & Hans Peter Brøndmo and Nordic Light Festival director Anne Lise Flavik welcome all participants and wish you a pleasant and fruitful stay in Kristiansund.




Oliver Breidenbach (Boinx Software)

Tadashi Nakayama (Nikon)

Eric Cheng

Kate Jordahl

Eugine Feinberg

Peter Krogh (ASMP)

Ryota Okazaki

Eran Steinberg

Yury Prilutsky

Rudy Burger

Erling Maartmann-Moe

Evan Nisselson

Alex Webb (Magnum)

Rebecca Webb (Magnum)

Bastian Wolfle

Chris Rainer (National Geographic)

Ivan Cavero Belaunde (Nokia)

Nelson Ramirez de Arellano Conde

Odd Inge Teige


Morton Krogvold

Severin Matusek (EyeEm)



Beyond Pixels, The Future of Photography

an update


by Mikkel Aaland

May 23, 2017


Technology and photography are inseparable. In 2013, Hans Peter Brøndmo and I invited 30 photography experts from all over the world to track and predict some of the remarkable technological changes occurring in the photographic world.  Beyond Pixels was held in the tiny fishing village of Kristansund, Norway and for two days the event ran in conjunction with the classical Nordic Light International Festival of Photography. The wall that separated the two events was porous and the natural tension that exists between technology and art produced a beneficial flow of ideas.


During two intense days of discussion we tracked the explosive growth of camera phones, the potential of wearable cameras, the creation of “smart photos” that make use of non-visual meta data such as geotagging and facial recognition, and the ubiquitous use of photography in social media. One of the hottest topics was computational photography in the form of apps and light fields and we all agreed this was the area where photography was poised to make the biggest leap.


It’s been four years since Beyond Pixels 2013 and four years is a lifetime in the world of technological innovation. What did we miss?


The answer came two weeks ago when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerman took the stage and introduced the first mainstream augmented reality platform. (Augmented reality uses a common cell phone camera to create immersive, computer-generated environments that blur the line between what's real and what’s not. It enhances what we see, hear, feel and smell by adding graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and smell to the natural world as it exists. )


On April 18th, the New York Times reported that Zuckerberg is betting he has found the next frontier in modern computing.


The Times writes, “What that means today is fairly limited. Augmented reality is nascent — people can add simple flourishes on top of their photos or videos, like sticking a pixelated blue beard on a selfie or adding puppy stickers to a photo of the front yard of their house.


“But in Mr. Zuckerberg’s telling, there are few boundaries for how this technology will evolve. He said he envisioned a world in which people could eventually point smartphone cameras at a bowl of cereal and have an app create tiny sharks swimming in the milk. Friends can leave virtual notes for one another on the walls outside their favorite restaurants, noting which menu item is the most delicious.”


Apple too is publicly bullish on augmented reality and is rumored to be working on several AR products, including digital spectacles that could connect wirelessly to an iPhone and beam content—movies, maps and more—to the wearer.


At Beyond Pixels we touched on augmented reality but I think few of us understood or predicted how quickly it would go mainstream or how much it could change photography as we know it. Stay tuned.



Is Photography Dead?


While technology marches forward, there is disturbing news and signs that traditional photography is on its last legs. Out of curiosity, I googled the phrase, Photography is dead and got over 100,000 entries. It’s a popular subject getting serious attention on the internet.


Every day it seems like a nail is pounded into the traditional photography coffin. Just a month ago, Popular Photography, the largest circulated photography magazine in the world, ceased publication after 80 years. In the last few months, two of the most frequented camera stores in the San Francisco bay area, Adolph Gasser and Keeble and Shuchat closed their doors after 67 and 51 years respectively. After 26 years as San Francisco’s number one art gallery, rental studio, bookstore and museum, RayKo will go dark and put its building up for sale. Recently Nikon cancelled production of three new DL compact cameras, citing a “slow-down” in the camera market.  A headline in PetaPixel sums it up: This Latest Camera Sales Chart Shows the Compact Camera Near Death followed by a chart showing the dramatic decline in sales of compact camera. (The chart is found here on the PetaPixel site https://petapixel.com/2017/03/03/latest-camera-sales-chart-reveals-death-compact-camera/)


For the professional photographer trying to make a living, there is also no question that photography has radically changed. We now compete with every amateur who has taken a Lynda.com on-line photography course and will work for practically free, or we compete with online stock photography that is priced like a commodity, if priced at all. Some people say professional photography died the moment a camera lens found it's way onto a cell phone, when overnight everyone in the entire world became a photographer.


But declaring the death of photography is a lot like saying sex is dead. The statement reveals a lot more about the person saying it than anything else. It’s all about perspective and where you are coming from.


Google the phrase Photography is Not Dead and you will get over 17 million entries.


Never before in history has photography been so popular or relevant.  In 2017 InfoTrends predicts 1.3 trillion photos will be taken. That’s 1.3 trillion. On Facebook alone, according to the Omnicore Group, over 350 million photos are uploaded every day. Instagram boasts over 600 million users 300 million of which are active every day. Snapchat has, which recently began calling its company a camera company, has over 200 million daily users. Sure most of photos shared worldwide contained food or selfies but shift through all the noise and you will find some really amazing talent.


For professionals there are more ways than every to monetize photography, from self publishing to Kickstarter campaigns to selling ads on web sites. There will always be a need for wedding and event photographers, who now offer a complete media package including video, custom books and social media services.


Photography is not dead.  If you keep an open mind it’s more exciting than ever.



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