The Beauty Is in the Details for Jonas Fredwall Karlsson and Vanity Fair
When Raul Gonzalez retired from his soccer career after more than twenty years of professional play it didn’t come as a shock to his fans. But it did mean the world that had embraced his talent so fully was going to have to recalibrate how they thought about this soccer star. To help with the change, Vanity Fair Spain put together a cover story to profile the star and they asked Jonas Fredwall Karlsson to help them reintroduce Raul to his fans for the first time. “To put him in sweats and have him be out in the soccer field would make no sense,” Jonas explains. It was all about context. So Jonas worked not only with Raul but also his wife, Mamen Sanz, a former model, to show off what a post-play life would look like for Raul. “They were super easy going and super friendly,” says Jonas. “They were open to try different things.” And it was different. Raul had never sat for a session like this before, so everyone was going to explore together.
Jonas' aesthetic dictates that every corner of his compositions are supremely beautiful, but he wants them to be rooted in accessible reality. To do that he manages every detail within the frame, whether it's an upturned newspaper on the floor or an unmade bed with rumpled sheets. For Jonas, those details clinch the difference between fashion editorial and understanding a real person. "It's really important to try to make these things look real and to tell a story," Jonas explains. "I asked them to bring their own things, their own iPads. If you look in the background there's even their own pictures of their kids. Even if those are out of focus, just knowing they’re there adds to the pictures. Those little details, those little imperfections add to the realism." If we feel like we're getting a real look at Raul's life, we can connect to him more. Too much polish builds a distance between the audience and the subject. Jonas is working to bridge that gap.
These details extend through all of his photography. Whether it’s a shoot like this that profiles a famous face, or for a commercial campaign, he’s always telling a story to the audience that is broader than what you catch from a quick glance. He offers an invitation to look deeper and experience more than what’s available at first look. And Jonas takes it very seriously. “I like to think those stories out,” Jonas says. “Why does it look like this? Why is this here? Is this real? If there is a telephone would it be on the hook or off the hook? And what would that mean? If that magazine is on the floor it has to be on the floor the right way.” He strikes a balance that gives us beauty and reality, because ultimately when you catch something that’s real it has its own inherent beauty. That human connection will always expose something new that we may not expect, something that may surprise us. Even if we’ve been watching Jonas’ subject play for more than twenty years. There’s always something new to learn and Jonas is showing it to us.