Sune Jonsson | Documenting the Rooms we Live In

Every day of our lives we are on the verge of making those slight changes that would make all the difference.
Mignon McLaughlin

I just read in VK that Swedish photographer Sune Jonsson died at age 79 yesterday, so this is my little tribute to him.

In memoriam of Sune Jonsson, by iHanna [COPYRIGHT Hanna Andersson]
I took this photo of my friend Ellinor this summer. Isn’t she pretty?

Sune Jonsson took many many black and white photos of people sitting in their living room similar to this one. Most of them in that wooden sofa, looking straight into the camera. This photo is my modern take on his style I guess. Sune Jonsson documented the countryside of Västerbotten (a northern part of Sweden) in the old way of living, before it dissipated. Old people living in little red cottages as long as they could.

Sune Jonsson

Sune has published many books that now are rare and precious finds at antique dealers. I can not say I know a lot about him (even though I once took his photo at an exhibit), what I do know is through my friend Ellinor, portrayed above. She is doing research about Sune and will write a book one day I think. When I took her portrait I was thinking someone should do a photo book with modern living rooms and modern people Sune style some day. I wished that this someone would be me.

Sune did lots of different kind of photography traveling to other countries too, but I like the living room photos best.

I think it’s important that we remember to document the people and rooms in our life. I love to document the ordinary, what is and what I see. When I look at old photo albums I always wish there would be more documentation of how we used to live, how the rooms looked. What the ordinary was like.

But I also love to play with photography, like we did above. Having those ordinary day photo sessions that only takes a few minutes climbing up on a chair. Making a little session of portraits, having fun one model and one photographer together. Tweaking reality a bit perhaps, but maybe that is what all photographing is about? Documenting a millisecond of time. It ends that moment and stores it for ever (or until you delete the photo from your computer).

Documentary photography

I love photography so much. And because Sophie and I started The Diptych Project it has been my main focus this month. I have been looking for something to focus on and photography is easy to be caught up with. I wish I could make it my career right now, taking photos of people and doing these sessions every day. It would be a dream job for me. I always imagine one would have to be more interested in the technical aspect of photography though, and I’ never am. At the most I use the [P] setting on my camera and adjust the ISO and white balance. That’s it.

On the other hand I think I see something special in my photos, and that’s the angle and subject. I do have an eye for good composition. When I was a wedding photographer this summer the bride hired me because of that fact and not because my fancy camera or technical skills. She told me I just took the photos she wanted to have. Those special ones. I think that is what every good photographer does; find the right place to be and then have the courage to shoot…

What is good photography to you? The motive, the angle, the feeling?

Some more photos Sune Jonsson style from this summer. My friend Maria at Pilgatan Café:


God fotografi blir alltid till i den enkla punkt, där man själv står som människa. Det betyder att objektiven endast är en förlängning och fördjupning av fotografens personliga sätt att se och skapa relationer till omvärlden. Det räcker egentligen inte med att han har ämnen. Ämnena måste vara en del av fotografen själv. Helst bär han röra sig vant och verserat som en gammal sockenbo inom sitt eget stoff, inom sina egna upplevelser.
Sune Jonsson [found via affe]

A photo of me that Maria took Sune Jonsson style;

Maybe February will be another month of taking photos every day? The Diptych Project will continue of course. And at the site Shutter Sister I read about the one word project;

Pick a word that best represents you or your focus. Your word should inspire images throughout the month of February.

I’m thinking hearts… What word would you pick?

What is important to document – in your life?

8 Responses

  1. Fascinating project. Had never heard of Sune Jonsson. Thank you for introducing him tome. I love the simple honesty of photographing people sitting squarely looking in to the camera. Wonderful collection.

  2. Sune Jonsson continues to inspire :)
    I love your idea to make a series of modern versions of living room scenes. And in Sweden, living rooms still have a kind of formal look that seems to ask for a little reverence in the casual everyday.
    I hope you do take on the project and publish a book. I would buy it!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I did not know about him. I love black and white portraits and I spent several years in my early twenties taking them and learning about them, with my own darkroom (before digital) and studio lights, all my friends and family had to sit for me, it was really an exciting time for me. But I stopped to pursue my writing. I love learning about photographers and portrait photographers, so this is a treat. I am going to do some more research on him.

    YOU are always full of surprises. Love these photos, too. I guess my favorite thing about photography is the the ranges of tones in black and white images. It’s almost limitless.

  4. Oh, I hadn’t read that. I have been so busy with translating Konsten att d?lja en massaker that I haven’t even had time to open Svenska Dagbladet for a few days. Plus, the basset pups in the kitchen are taking up more and more time.

    I must take some pictures !

  5. Your reminder to notice the ordinary is extra-ordinary, as it seems to me that many (most?) people think we only learn in life’s big moments. Life is lived in the small moments, learned in the gestures and subtleties. Anyone can sit at a funeral; if you want to tell me a great story, tell me about dressing for one. I love to visit writers’ homes, see their rooms, and look at what small objects they kept nearby. From now on, I’ll bring a camera. Thanks for the suggestion.

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