Griffin State of Mind, a continuing series acquainting you with the members of the Griffin creative community, introduces you to Jürgen Lobert, one of our newest instructors here at the museum. His upcoming class on Daytime Long Exposure Photography class starts Wednesday May 26th. For more information on the class, see our Events and Programs page.
Tell us how you first connected to the Griffin Museum.
As part of my evolving business in fine art photography, I was looking for a creative outlet and community to engage in. The Griffin was a perfect fit, in my area, focused on photography and larger than some other organizations. I also had a couple of friends who were already a member, hence, I decided to join.
How do you involve photography in your everyday life? Can you tell us about any images or artists that have caught your attention recently?
Photography most certainly made me go through life with a lot more visual appreciation for my surroundings. I often find myself driving along a road, or walking / hiking around and thinking: “ooh, that would make for a neat photo location”. As part of my activity in organizing Meetups and workshops, I have explored and gotten to know the greater Boston area much more than any other of the numerous locations I have lived in before.
I constantly view other people’s image streams on Instagram, Facebook and more recently also the Griffin’s “Runway” and I find a lot of inspiration doing this. A few communities are catching my eye more recently, one being the light drawing community, the other being certain landscape images, but I do look for many other aspects, too. The main goal is to find inspiration and ideas on what to do or do differently. There are a lot of great artists out there, but what happens to catch my attention most is to see how some of my former students evolve into creating beautiful imagery that I find intriguing.
The most recent exploration was Alexey Titarenko’s time-bending “City of Shadows” collection, which targets something between freezing moments and blurring them away through long exposures. Quite evocative!
Can you tell us about the new class you will be teaching at the Griffin this summer?
I will be teaching Daytime Long Exposure photography, which in itself is really just a technique, but one that can transform landscape or cityscape photos into serene works of art. It is a technique that adds the element of time, or the effects of time to your composition, which is something we usually don’t capture during the day, because high shutter speeds freeze motion. Blurring motion by reducing the amount of light available not only enables us to record the path of clouds and smoothing over water waves, it also makes people, cars and boats disappear, giving the scenery an otherworldly look that sets it apart from most land or city-scapes that we usually view. Images created this way immediately set themselves apart from the mainstream, and they can make mundane places look exciting. It’s a great technique to add to your photography toolbox. In addition, the workshop’s main learning goal is to embrace manual photography, to get out of auto modes and truly master manually setting exposure time, aperture and ISO and playing each other off to arrive at the perfect illumination. It will be an interactive workshop with classrooms for image review, editing and theory, alternating with small group, in-field photo shoots. A safe but fun environment for all.
Has there been a Griffin Museum exhibition that has particularly engaged or moved you?
I haven’t seen too many exhibits yet, but I thought that the recent DIGITS was well thought out and presented a different aspect of photography, apart from mainstream collections we often see. I do also like the variety of the members and winter juried shows.
What is your favorite place to escape to?
Any location where I create photos! Photography itself is my escape, and it doesn’t matter so much where I am. Everyday life and whatever problems there may be magically disappear when I am out and about with my cameras. I do, however, particularly cherish moonlit nights, be it to capture the moment when our planetary companion comes over the horizon, or when it is brightly lighting up the landscape. And, of course, the grand landscapes of the western US, which seem to be made for night photography. I happen to be there this week, my first trip in 15 months.
What is a book, song or visual obsession you have at the moment?
I don’t know why, but lately my mind keeps playing a lot of my favorite tunes from the 70s and I made it a point to revisit my music library, amend it with more releases from my favorite artists and keep listening to what I have. My favorite genre is Progressive Rock, and the latest “ear worm” has been Greenslade. Perhaps age does that to you, but it’s fun.
If you could be in a room with anyone to have a conversation, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Oh, that question needs to be more narrow! There are too many people whose minds I’d love to pick or understand. And, of course, to have one more conversation with those no longer among us for closure.
For photography, I would love to learn about Margarete Bourke-White’s mind when she was taking photos of a nighttime air raid on Moscow. I believe talking to her would be quite insightful.
About Jürgen Lobert
Jürgen Lobert is a Massachusetts-based fine art photographer born and raised in Germany. He received a Ph.D. in atmospheric chemistry before moving to the US in 1991. Jürgen specializes in night photography, daytime long exposures, urban exploration and infrared imagery.He has been taking photos since his early 20s, mostly using color negative or slide film. He adopted digital cameras in the late 1990s and found Nikon cameras to be most suitable for his work. Jürgen started embracing night photography after taking a course at the New England School of Photography in 2011, advanced his skills quickly and enjoys the technical aspects as much as the artistic vision required.
He started organizing night photo events through Meetup groups in 2012 and founded the Greater Boston Night Photographers in 2013. Along with organizing some 40 photoshoots annually, he also lectures at camera clubs, serves as a photo competition judge and organizes professional tours and workshops. Jürgen is an executive member of the Boston Camera Club and member of the Stony Brook Camera Club, the Photographic Society of America and the Professional Photographers of America. Jürgen was an instructor at the New England School of Photography (NESOP) until 2019. Jürgen’s photography expertise is published in camera club newsletters, his own blog and on his Patreon channel. His artwork is in the permanent collection of the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, MA. Jürgen finds profound peace in roaming the nights in remote places. Capturing the element of time is the most intriguing part, where clouds become bands, cars are bright streaks in the roads, people disappear, stars form trails in the sky and water smooths over to a mirror finish. Night and daytime long exposure photography transform the familiar and create serene views of our surrounding, revealing beauty in the mundane, which we often rush by, but rarely acknowledge in its potential. The resulting images are otherworldly, hauntingly beautiful and serene lightscapes.