Unless you’ve been living under a blog rock, chances are you’ve heard of our guest today. It was very early in 2009 that I received an email from a new Brisbane photographer. He’d only ever shot two weddings (the first of which I featured in a Snaphot Sunday in March). Geoff & Cait being his second.
Since those first two weddings, photographer Jonas Peterson has been swept up in a whirlwind – one that has led him to be shooting over forty weddings all over the world this year. His immense talent, combined with the rawness of entering into this world of photography has led him to be a well known name internationally. I have been completely amazed by his journey and his growth that I have been lucky enough to witness, as not only a photographer but as a person learning and finding their way in a brand new way of being.
What was the catalyst for starting Jonas Peterson Photography?
Life. My partner Jacqui and I had both worked in different roles in advertising for a long time and felt the need to do something real. I was quite honestly fed up with coming up with creative ideas for clients who didn’t care about anything but making money. Jacqui saw my frustration and pushed me to focus on the thing that made me happy creatively – photography. Shooting weddings was never the plan, as with many things it just happened. I was asked to shoot a wedding for friends and I told them I would make a lousy wedding photographer. They told me to shut up and capture it my way, so I agreed. When I later posted the wedding on my newly set up website, things exploded in my face. I was absolutely blown away. All I did was capture a wedding my way and people went berserk. I think I got around 70 comments on that wedding alone. At this time I was still working as a creative in advertising, but soon after we had to make a decision since were getting more and more inquiries every day. We decided to focus fully on my photography and haven’t looked back since.
What is your business philosophy?
I want to do something that makes me happy. I also want to do something that makes other people happy. Both are equally important.
Your website is beautiful in its simplicity. And you also have an easy style of writing about yourself that captures the reader. How would you describe your photography style?
You have to remember you’re talking to a seasoned ad man here. I’ve come up with more cheesy descriptions and fake labels than most people out there. I wanted my photography to be the absolute opposite of that. I wanted it to be pure. So I hope that’s what it is.
Does your photography style reflect the way you see life?
It’s taken me a while to realize, but I shoot the way I do because that’s how I see things. I can’t do it any differently. The things I see are the things I capture. So yes, most definitely.
What do you love about Australian brides?
Their simple and relaxed approach to life. It affects everything around a wedding and suits me perfectly.
What do you look to for inspiration?
I try not to look at wedding photography too much, but apart from that – anything around me. Literally. Music, TV, books, design, food. Anything.
Do you have a ‘feeling’ about each bride you photograph and then plan the photo shoot accordingly?
I scout locations and visit the church and venue, but apart from that I don’t plan a thing. My approach is to not have an approach. Every bride is completely different and most of the time I’ve only met a bride once before I shoot their wedding day. There’s no way I know who they are after one meeting. Because of that I walk in with a sense of naivety. I slowly get to know them and let that guide me through the day. When it’s time to shoot portraits I know more about who they really are and that dictates how I capture them. I always adapt to them and never ever add bits of “me” to their photos. I want the photos to reflect who they are and not be a bunch of shots I want to take because they’d look cool in my portfolio.
A lot of your shots seem casual and relaxed. How do you encourage a bride and groom to feel relaxed about having their photo taken?
Since I’m around all day people generally trust me. It’s that simple. I’m a fairly laid back guy myself and I try and not make a big deal of anything. The more relaxed I am, the more they relax and that hopefully shows in the pictures we capture together.
What sets you apart from others?
I leave that call to others. The simple answer is me. If I stay true to who I am and don’t try and be someone I’m not, I will immediately be different from others.
How do you keep on learning?
By staying curious and open to everything around me.
How do you keep your product fresh and different?
By staying curious and open to everything around me.
What is your number one tip for brides?
It’s your wedding day, so make it YOUR wedding. No idea is too kooky, nothing too personal. Don’t do things a certain way because you’ve been told that’s how you do them. Listen to your heart and let that dictate everything your wedding is about.
What are your favourite wedding photography ideas?
The ones I haven’t seen yet.
Do you travel anywhere to do a shoot? Tell us about some of the more memorable places you have been to do a wedding shoot.
This year I’m shooting weddings all over Australia, but also in Asia, Europe and North America. I simply love to travel. And the thing is I actually love the actual traveling too. Once you arrive somewhere you’re static. Since I’m Swedish, I have to mention the wedding I shot in Sweden last year. It was my first time back in Sweden for a couple of years and my first Swedish wedding. It was a long Swedish summer night by a beautiful lake. To me it felt like being in a Swedish fairytale. You can find the wedding here.
What is in the future for Jonas Peterson Photography?
To quote my 3-year old son, Noah, “Lotsa, lotsa, lotsa fun!”.
Thank you for joining us today Jonas and thank you for allowing us to be part of journey! You can find more of Jonas Peterson’s work, thoughts and travels on his website and blog.