(Editor’s Note: This interview with photographer Josefine Jönsson was conducted back in July 2012 by Tom Heckbert for the now-defunct website Eyestrane.com. It’s been republished at Idol Features courtesy of Tom.)
I don’t think a photograph must have the most awesome location or lightning, but must capture that one, single moment which is special and beyond beautiful; simplicity. Every photo I take is special to me, this is a way for me to share my dreams, thoughts and creativity.
JOSEFINE JÖNSSON: Thank you! I come from a small town in the south of Sweden. It has been a great inspirational place for me as there are a lot of fields and beautiful places around here. I grew up with my mother and father and two siblings. I was the first one to leave the home, even though I am the youngest one, as I wanted to chase my dreams to become a photographer.
EYESTRANE: Where you interested in the arts as a child? Were there artists in your family?
JOSEFINE: Yes, I really loved to draw. I used to, but very rarely nowadays, draw realistic portraits. Back then, I used to draw every night before going to bed, it was my way to relax and keep myself inspired. I don’t have many artists in my family, but my grandmother draws a lot too.
EYESTRANE: Your images are very personal to you. You say they reflect your thoughts.
JOSEFINE: My drawings were very personal to me, so I did have a hard time when it came to showing them to people. But I really wanted to show my feelings and thoughts, so when I did try photography it felt right for me. I did a lot of self-portraits when I first started, but I was only modelling for my own photography, very rarely for someone else. I wanted to try different lights, make up and stylings and photograph for myself rather than for someone else. In the beginning, and still, I am photographing for myself. My photography is for me what drawing meant for me back in the days, but a lot easier for me to share.
EYESTRANE: Do you hope a viewer reads those thoughts or should they interpret them based on their own personalities and life experiences?
JOSEFINE: I like to take photos where the viewers should interpret themselves. I don’t think it is as interesting if I wrote what I wanted it should be rather than hearing what others think of it. Especially when it comes to my self-portraits where I create different characters. It’s rarely a self-portrait per say as I like to play around with my appearance to fit a certain look/character, emotion or scenery.
EYESTRANE: Do you think your time in front of the camera has help you when you are taking photos?
EYESTRANE: What first attracted you to the art of photography? Were you modeling first?
EYESTRANE: Since your work is so personal can you pick an image from your portfolio that is one of your favorites and tell us why?
JOSEFINE: A personal favourite of mine is a self-portrait called “Heartbeat”. It’s one of the rare self-portraits where I actually look like I usually do in the everyday life. It’s a favourite because of the mood, colours and the weather. I really love fields, they make me calm, and taking self-portraits in them are a favourite of mine. I remember it was very windy that day, I saw these dark clouds and wanted to capture them. I don’t think I had a clear vision of what I wanted before the shoot, but while standing there I just did whatever came to mind, what I felt at that time and I guess that is what makes it special to me.
EYESTRANE: You gained a lot of attention when your self-portrait was on the cover of the book “Entangled” by Cat Clarke. Were you surprised at the reaction?
JOSEFINE: Yes! I am very happy I ended up on Cat’s cover and I am also happy for the positive reactions it has gotten. When I visited Cat’s release party I was so nervous to meet everyone there, especially as everyone had seen me on the cover but not in person, but it was very fun to hear that people enjoyed the cover just as much as the book. It’s the cover that has gotten most attention actually!
JOSEFINE: Sometimes it is difficult, especially when I have an idea in my head that doesn’t turn out the way I like it to. I find it quite difficult to take self-portraits when it’s me without all the make up that should be showing in the photo. I’m quite used to working with a tripod and remote, but sometimes the autofocus really drives me crazy! Of course it’s harder than shooting with a model, but I like it because I can decide exactly what kind of emotion, feeling and pose I like to portray as I can see the image I want to take in my mind.
EYESTRANE: How would you best describe your style and what are your favorite subjects to shoot?
JOSEFINE: I like to think about it as dreamlike photography, as I like to work with colours to create a certain tone and feeling to a photo. I am having a hard time to pick my favourites, but I really love photographing fashion with a dark touch to them. Also, more dreamlike/fantasy photography with timeless characters.
EYESTRANE: In the early days of your career you experimented a lot. How do you think your photography has improved or changed since then?
JOSEFINE: I think it has gotten a more commercial touch to it. I am thinking of portraying the clothes and make up in a different way than I used to. I’ve also gotten a more different style while shooting more alternative photography, but I always see hints of my older work in my newer ones. Especially when it comes to working with light and colours. I am still experimenting a lot, and I think I always will be.
EYESTRANE: What do you prefer to work with. Natural or artificial light?
JOSEFINE: I do prefer natural light as I’ve worked with it since I began shooting. But I really love artificial too, and if I did have my own lightning equipment I would use it just as much as the natural light.
JOSEFINE: A long time before I met Tea I was very fond of her modelling. She was, and still is, one of my favourite models to work with. She is easy to work with, nice and pretty – what else can you ask for? My favourite photos are actually with her! She introduced me to the alternative industry and for that I am very grateful!
EYESTRANE: Your images appear on many book covers. Are these shot specifically for the books or are they pulled from your portfolio? Who chooses the images, you or the publisher?
JOSEFINE: They are pulled from my portfolio on Trigger Images, which is a photo library where I upload my photos. Sometimes I am contacted personally too, and they are usually also from my portfolio. I only provide the images, it’s the editor that decides the edit of the final image. Many of my book covers are edited to fit their books.
EYESTRANE: Who are some of the artists and photographer that you admire?
JOSEFINE: I really admire Emma Jönsson Dysell. I was very grateful when I had the opportunity to assist her and retouch her work back in 2011. I admire many artists, infamous or famous ones though.
EYESTRANE: Is there anyone in particular that you have not photographed that you would like to in the future?
JOSEFINE: Oh, yes! There are so many I’d like to work with. I’ve been following Miss Mosh for quite so me time and I’d love to work with her. Another favourite would be Cara Delevingne.
JOSEFINE: Aw, thank you! I think beauty is about how you feel about yourself. We have different ways of thinking another one is beautiful, but when it comes to modelling and photography I personally adore high cheekbones and some features that aren’t like others, that would be personal to them and them only. Like some would consider to be “flaws”, but for me something beautiful.
EYESTRANE: What is the photography industry like in Sweden?
JOSEFINE: It’s very much working for free to get paid in publications, which I don’t like. It’s hard to survive in a business that doesn’t pay you in money. I think it’s the hardest within fashion, but also alternative, is that there are so many other photographers you have to compete with. Other than that, it isn’t as big as I wish it would be.
EYESTRANE: What are your hopes for your career in the future?
JOSEFINE: I really wish I could work full-time with photography, that’s my goal. Working with good teams and still taking photography that resembles my own style.
EYESTRANE: Where can we go to find out more about you and your work?
JOSEFINE: My website is JosefineJonsson.com. Other than that, I regularly update my page on Facebook.
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