Jonas Jacobsson: Exploring Magnificent Landscapes

DSCF7217

All images by Jonas Jacobsson. Used with permission.

Photographer Jonas Jacobbson is a 23 year old photographer who hails from Sweden and tells us that he’s been very fortunate to travel. He studies full time and the rest of the time is spent on his photography business. Lots of his work focuses on landscapes.

“There is nothing more satisfying than standing with your feet before a magnificent landscape. And the journey there is often as important as the final destination.” he tells us in his pitch email. Jonas further states that making money will never be his objective, it will always be about being inspired by the world.

We talked to him about his inspirational photos and his mentality of simply going out there and shooting.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

DSCF4972

When I was little I actually did a lot of video stuff, and found the process of putting things together and then showing them to an audience very forgiving. Later on though, when I was 18 I bought my first DSLR (Nikon entry level, think it was a D3100) as I was set to embark on a “around-the-globe” trip. I had so much fun documenting all of the moments we came across and basically from that moment I knew this was something that would only grow and become something much bigger than just a hobby.

DSCF5016

Phoblographer: What attracts you to landscapes?

Because of the endless variation it presents. No scene is the same. I have an excellent example of what I mean below. These two shot were taken approximately 50 feet from each other, with me basically only turning 180 degrees. In a way two very different scenes but still so close. For me it’s about experiencing all that the world has to offer and dramatic nature will always be the best show you can see. As long as I can move there is no reason why I wouldn’t want to see all of the great places out there, just continue to explore every day.

I try to capture images and moments that you can lose yourself in as a viewer. You should be able to just watch the photograph and get deeply inspired by the landscape, that’s what I try do capture in my images. I get so much inspiration from people around me and I guess this is my way of forwarding that in a sense.

DSCF5337

Phoblographer: Part of becoming a better landscape photographer involves travelling a lot and finding new inspiration. But what’s the biggest tip that you feel you’ve learned over the years of shooting?

That you don’t have to travel far to get what you want! Although I have been fortunate to travel a lot and seen many spectacular places my best advice is that you have to develop a curious and explorative side in your photography, wherever you might be at the moment. Lets face it, the majority have work, studies, families, living situation or something else that binds you to one specific place most of the time. So while you’re at home, be it a city or more open wilderness, my tip is to always just get out there and look for things that catches your attention. Shoot different stuff and do it often. That’s how you stay hungry and ready I believe. And then whenever you have a couple of days off – just go. I’ve heard every excuse in the book and you can always find one if you want to, but the truth is you just have to get out there as much as you possibly can. There’s no substitute for real action, you can’t learn how to shoot and behave in the field simply by watching youtube-tutorials.

DSCF5370

Also, maybe most importantly, don’t limit yourself before you’ve really tried it. You don’t have to be a true alpinist to hike on a mountain or have the best equipment out there to set out on an adventure. It’s all about your curiosity and if you have the will, then you’ll get by any obstacles that may present itself during your travels. I can’t afford to by very specific gear when I’m out and I usually manage quite alright! We get fooled in todays society that you have to have the ultimate gear to have the ultimate experience but’s very seldom true.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about your compositional techniques. You use lots of lines, don’t put the horizon in the center, and you find a way to create this intricate sense of balance. How much thought goes into an image before you shoot?

DSCF5372

I put a lot of thought into my images. This is something that has to develop over time. I guess your style matures greatly if you have a passion for what you do. When I started off with photography I also took “the standard shot at the standard position” but never really felt satisfied with the results as I could see thousands and thousands of exactly similar images in todays digital age. In that case the only thing that determines if the shot is good is how the weather played out and what type of equipment you were using, more or less. So, in order to create great images you have to move and change the perspective a lot, until you find the look you’re looking for.

DSCF8843

Obviously symmetry is important, at least for me. In urban environments it can be hell to find the right symmetry but in landscape and nature there are no perfect lines or rulers. So when you’re standing on that edge of a cliff – have fun and be creative with the scene. Don’t just walk up to the first best spot and take an image. Enjoy the scene, look around and then carefully compose your shot. I’m not going to give a list of DO’s and DON’T’s but let me just say that you should not take lots of shots because your memory card has the space for it. It will only fill up your hard drive, create difficult dilemmas and not make you evolve in your style of shooting.

DSCF6225

Phoblographer: What places do you feel inspire you the most?

DSCF6440

There are hundreds of places I feel happy about when thinking about them. I like many types of scenes and change is something I think is important for me, experiencing new things all the time. Not getting too comfortable. Although my most appreciated images has come from places with very dramatic landscapes (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland etc.) I enjoy less jaw-dropping places almost just as much, with many of them in my home country of Sweden.

Norway has a special place in my heart. Living so close has allowed me to travel there a lot over the years and it’s such a beautiful country. Especially the northern parts, such as the areas around Tromsø and the islands of Lofoten are truly spectacular. Nothing I ever seen comes close to Lofoten, truly unique.

DSCF6475

I’ve had some amazing trips in the Alps, with many unforgettable moments up on snow-covered mountains as well as next to green, mirror-like lakes. The combination of the all these incredible elements – dense forests, the lakes and the dramatic peaks is very hard not to be inspired by.

DSCF6512

When I travelled in New Zealand a couple of years ago I was unfortunately a bit too inexperienced in my photography too really capture the true beauty, but it left a big impression on me. I will most definitely go back here as soon as I get the chance to stay awhile. NZ is probably the most diverse country I’ve ever visited, ranging from long white beaches, rainforests, mountains and fjords. There are many similarities to Norway.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use.

I started off using APS-C sized cameras from Nikon and Canon, like the majority out there. After beginning to grow my lens selection it soon forced me to get a bigger backpack and all kinds of accessories and it nearly killed my passion for photography altogether with the weight and hassle it brought along. I felt that every time I picked up the camera I was going on a super serious mission, it took away all the fun.

After a brief stint with M43-cameras and the compactness of a mirrorless system, my eyes soon turned to what Fujifilm was up to with their X-Pro 1 and X-E1. As a design-engineer to be I’m also very interested in the quality and design of cameras as well as lenses and what Fujifilm was doing was really cool so I decided to go ahead and try the X-series of cameras. The X-E1 was a very slow camera in many ways but it forced me to learn so much more about photography and the process of making a great shot than any gear I had ever used before. Honestly I try not to put to much focus on the gear you’re using, as long as you have fun with it and it allows you to be creative. That being said I don’t think I would be where I am today in my photography if I had not tried the Fuji system. It brought back the inspiration and happy side you need to create great moments.

DSCF6592

Today I still use Fujifilm (X-T1 along with XF lenses of 14, 23, 35, 56 and 55-200 mm) and the compactness gives me the ability to always have the best gear I have with me every day, basically wherever I go. It doesn’t really matter if I’m up on the Matterhorn or if I’m on my way to campus in the city – I can always carry my gear with me with ease. The fuji cameras and lenses are just a pleasure to use, you want to pick it all the time and just go shoot. If you feel that way about the gear you’re using I think you’re in a good place, that’s my tip. Obviously I still check the market and try other cameras as well from time to time, but the bottom line is that you have to have fun with it. It’s not a rifle that you’re holding in your hands and no one will be impressed if you run around with the biggest camera out there. Keep it simple. I greatly prefer prime lenses and do not mind swapping lenses at all, it’s all part of the process.

If people spent half of the time they spend on gear-reviews they would be so much more happy and experienced in their photography, and that goes for me as well.

DSCF6818

Phoblographer: Lots of photographers only want to shoot during the golden hour, but many of your photos aren’t during that time slot. What tips can you give to create better photos during the other times?

Just go shoot! Don’t make photography a mission or something you plan too much. In time you’ll learn the different lighting situations and how the different types can look great. Go out during times you’re not usually out and see what happens. Walk, bike and just have your camera near so you can snap that frame when you see something interesting. Leave the car at home.

DSCF8589

And once again, if you want your photos to stand out from the vast majority you have to use different lighting and shoot during other times than just the golden hour. Challenge yourself.

Phoblographer: Some of the views that you capture are beautiful but look a tad dangerous. Have you ever felt like you’ve been in real danger when trying to get “the shot?”

No, not really. Like I said, for me it’s all about taking a couple of extra steps to get to that next ledge and get an angle I know not many others have photographed from, but I still know my limits (I think!). I want to push it as far as possible, to see where the line is. It’s obviously a balance between breaking the rules just a bit to differentiate the scene and knowing when you are out of your element and have no control at all.

DSCF8750

You have to have respect for weather and circumstances you can’t control, that’s important and it can change the scene quite dramatically, wherever you might be. Listen to locals that know the area and check out forecasts thoroughly.

For me it’s also about thinking of how far you’ve travelled and how long it took to get to this specific point – are you not willing to take a couple of extra steps up that hill to honor that journey? Yeah, that’s what I thought.