If you ever find yourself in Vejle, Denmark (first, way to go off the map!) look for the work of Jonas Normann. The now 37-year old is bound to be out and about in a town that he has profiled in short film work and through his photography.
Like most Danes, Jonas tends to be humble about his work (full disclosure: he has profiled our own Carson Lancaster and our good friend Joe Aguirre, winning a film festival along the way), but not reserved when it comes to drawing on the inspiration, including the more difficult aspects.
"When I was 20 I started still photography school. That was before digital cameras were good enough for professional use. Everything was film and darkroom. I had a great year, but I dropped out because I was young and was more interested in parties and having fun with friends. I gave up on photography for maybe 5 years."
But Jonas came back with a hunger to document the imperfect. Inspired by his departure from photography and memories of his parents divorce, including his dad's disciplined capture of his childhood on a 8mm Canon514X. He began to strive for that organic feel that old film often produces; images that are untouched by Photoshop, so they maintain off-coloring and composition. It is something he still sites as a guiding philosophy today: "I'm sure it's the main reason why I produce film and documentaries today for a living. I'm trying to bring these same feelings into everything I do with photography and film."
And whether it is due to his cultural background, or his journey through life, or even his connection to the art scene of northern and central Europe, Jonas produces different perspectives not often seen here on the West Coast. That includes his latest series "Free Bird", a concept that has taken a couple of years to flush out after seeing Polish photographer Filip Pielesiak's wet plate photography. Jonas, however, decided to go his own route once again, using liquid emulsion, "[I] just loved the look and the grittiness of it. Liquid emulsion is sharper because you can shoot with any type of film camera and with a much higher iso. And all film formats. When I restrict myself to one camera I feel like it's just another rule and I really don't like rules in photography."
Lack of rules and free thinkers is what keeps Jonas immersed in the Danish art scene. "In Vejle, where I live, the art scene is not big. It's more like an underground thing and I love the people here who do things their own way without a big audience. We have some great photographers and film makers in Denmark. That's where my biggest attention is."
So if you do happen to make it to Vejle there is a chance you will have an unforgettable journey and dive into the Danish art scene, if you can find Jonas. Just look for a tall Dane. He shouldn't be to hard to find.
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