The Scandinavian Style Of Interior Photographer Jonas Berg – Gothenburg Sweden

March 30th, 2015

JonasBergThis months PFRE photographer of the month contest had a photo that really captured my interest. The photo was by Jonas Berg of Gothenburg, Sweden. Click on the photo to the right to see a large version of Jonas’ contest submission.

What caught my interest about this image was how uplifting the light in the room was. At first glance you might think the windows are blown-out but as you look carefully, they aren’t. Rather the highlights are carefully placed at the upper-end of the brightness scale. The whole wall of windows is radiant and that feeling extends to the rest of the room.

Another interesting aspect of the photo is that at first impression you might think that the reflection of the electrical cords in the oven door was an oversight by the photographer. A comment in the contest flickr group suggested that the cords should be cloned out. But if you look at the whole set of photos for this apartment you see that the bare electrical cord/exposed light bulb look is a subtle interior design theme that comes out of the fact that this is an apartment built in the early 1900’s that has been remodeled so electrical fixtures don’t look like they would if this were a apartment built in 2015.

After learning all the of above from the discussion in the contest flickr group I decided to get more information from Jonas on his style and technique. I asked Jonas about his equipment, workflow and style. Here are some of his answers:

Equipment:

I use a Phase One DF+ camera with an IQ260 back. I previously had a P25+ back but switched up for about 1.5 years ago and I have not regretted it for a second. When it comes RE photo shoots I often use Sensor+ mode and then get 1/4 as many pixels, ie 15 MP and It’s enough and actually feels better than P25 with 22 MP. I also get with Sensor+ a base ISO of 200 and a touch more tonal range.

I have a lot of fixed lenses 28, 35, 45, 55, 80, 120, 200. The widest I normally use is 35mm but if I have the opportunity to back off a bit I rather choose 45mm which is my favorite lense. 80 and 120 for details. I also have an old 50mm shift lens that I use on exterior photos. If I need to shift indoors I usually use a wider lens and crop in post because I think it works well and goes a little faster. A 35mm lens on my camera is approximately equal to 22mm on a fullframe 35mm camera but because the ratio is 4:3 against 3:2 the wide angle experience is not as strong.

I use CaptureOne as a RAW converter and in most cases, images are completely done there. I use Photoshop when I need to do pixel re-touching or in rare cases have to blend multiple exposures.

Style:

In Sweden the (high-end) real estate photos differ a lot from what I see in most other countries. We use less artificial light and don’t do so much HDR and stuff like that. Maybe because we are short of daylight for long periods of the year and want everything to look natural. This reflects in interior magazines as well.

I work almost exclusively in central Gothenburg (Sweden’s second largest city) and most of the buildings are from 1850-1965. For obvious reasons, it is also almost exclusively apartments and very few houses. Most apartments are also quite small, one, two or three bedroom apartments.

I think there’s something you could call Scandinavian (or nordic) light . If you look in the Scandinavian interior magazines, you often see this type of images, often completely natural daylight. I think it has to do with that we have many famous architects and furniture designers who have had great influence on how we are decorating our homes. Light wood, bright, muted colors, etc. Of course, we also have a very special light this far north and Gothenburg is quite famous for it’s raining and is gray many days a year (known as little London).

In addition to real estate photography I do some magazine work and some commercial jobs, most interior photo. I also do some architectural photography and I would gladly do more if only I had a little more time.

Largest clients:

Jonas says his largest clients are stadshem.se and entrancemakleri.se.

I have to say that I’m a new fan of this Scandinavian or Nordic light look! Thanks Jonas for showing us your work and sharing the Scandinavian style with the rest of the world!

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16 Responses to “The Scandinavian Style Of Interior Photographer Jonas Berg – Gothenburg Sweden”

  • I think Mr. Berg put his finger on the light as being from the preponderance of overcast days experienced in his part of the world and the accomodation to it that photographers in the north (and our own norther states) make to it. I grew up shooting in England, not known for its high percentage of sunny days, so I had to work with it too. It is a lovely soft light. The style of the French magazine Cotes Sud and companion magazines Ouest , Est and Nord have had an editorial style almost diametrically opposed to our Architectural Digest of using almost exclusively available light even when shooting film with its more limited range from digital.

    I am new to real estate photography and more and more I am not even turning on lights in rooms unless the lighting is a vital part of the interior architecture. For one thing it changes the color in the room unless the bulbs are LEDs and even then . . . For another I find it more flattering not to mix the colors which helps in getting a more even color and allows for a more accurate color rendition of the colors in the room. Obviously not always possible in very dark and obscure rooms, but when I can I do. As a California based photographer, I have to deal with both the benefits of sun and blue sky and their problems such as shooting a back yard filled with trees and the resulting spot lights of sun and densities of shadows and pray for a day like the ones they have in Sweden and the UK. Never thought I would pray for gloom but there are times. But Mr. Bergs photos show how you can make the best of an often frustrating lighting and make it work for you instead of against you. Such fine work.

  • Likewise, I think they’re wonderfully subtle photos. Have been thinking for a while I will encourage my clients harder to allow me to switch off the lights when appropriate (or at least take a version with and without).
    Thanks Jonas and Larry for sharing this!

  • Love to see the before pic as well.

  • I absolutely love that look. Lights off, clean light. Just pure, clean, pillowy white light making all colors true. I like to shoot lights off, maybe I should move to Sweden 🙂

    In my opinion the most simple and elegant photos are made with this kind of light. Great work!

  • And a second thought: the idea that we should be cloning out every dust particle is getting annoying. Hopefully there is a trend going back to capturing the room just how it is, like the photo you see here.

  • Love the look and the wires are very cool. Very commercial style, in a good way. I enjoy this style and have tried it a bit. Still get some dark shadow areas that I don’t know how to get rid of without some lighting. Like you say, I’m sure there are rooms and spaces that should certainly need some lighting help.

    My inspiration for subtle, directional, ambient looking high-ish key lighting is the RH catalog. Jonas’ example is probably more high key with all the white walls bouncing light around, but you get the idea.

  • From the histogram, the only thing not blown out are the silhouettes of the window sills. Is this enough to not label it blown out? Also if the old electrical wiring was bad, why is it okay to have cords dangle in all places instead of hiring a professional electrician? I feel the wrong qualities are emphasized here. Jonas has a great eye for color grading and composition and his style is definitely worthy of mention, but ignoring his strengths and discussing arbitrary things like gear and trumpeting bad craftsmanship of homes is a bit odd.

  • I really love the color and texture coming from the latest Phase One backs.
    Dave, do you notice a different and more pleasant color science than regular dslr’s?

    Like the color of the images from Joe Fletcher: http://www.joefletcherphoto.com/

  • @Art Sanchez –

    I just views Joe’s website, jaw dropping stuff. There is a definite richness in color in his shots and the shot posted.

    Would you happen to have any idea what digital back, camera and lenses he is using?

  • Jonas knows what he’s doing and he does it exceptionally well. The high key style is used and appreciated by many professionals. Thanks for sharing!

    Also, the windows aren’t blown at all. And… i love the cords, nice touch.

  • Absolutely love the quality and atmosphere of these pics, credits to Jonas, but let’s not forget a lot of it has to do with the equipment used. If I’m correct the IQ260 is a jawdropping 40 k$

  • @tonythompson

    Joe Fletcher shoots with an Alpha and and IQ260 back.

  • I want to put on my sunglasses.

  • Remco:

    “but let’s not forget a lot of it has to do with the equipment used. If I’m correct the IQ260 is a jawdropping 40 k$”

    I’m sorry but I disagree with your statement. There isn’t a camera that makes a better photographer. This result could be produced with a Canon eos Rebel.
    I was just refering to the singular color reproduction of the Phase One digital backs.

  • Photography has lots of wide options, i think this style works great for a magazine, and much better for a furnitures magazine, and also in this case because there is a milliar of neighborhoods looking your window and hide this enought is ok, but i think this does not works for a property with views to mountains or sea or some nature feature.

    I believe that he will not use these style for a large room with big glass door looking to a garden in spring season.

    Do not forget we are helping to sell houses and nowadays mostly online, so more actractive for screens more success for our customers for those who we are working.

    By other side, I agree Jonas is a very good pro photographer.

  • I think this image is stunning. I am captivated by the crisp clean presentation of this room. Jonas, you are my new hero. 🙂

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