Growing up in Nyåker, Nordmaling in northern Sweden, Jonsson’s career began with the book Byn med det blå huset (The Village with the Blue House) in 1959. And already there, he had formulated his deeply personal documentary method, which gave him a special position in Swedish photography, film and literature. In 1993 Jonsson was presented with the Hasselblad Award.
For half a century Jonsson explored, and made visible, the environments and the lives of the inhabitants of Sweden’s most remote regions. His work stands for a humanistic approach to photography, characterized by deep respect for human integrity and a subtle sense of humanity in the landscape. He witnessed and chronicled a settler culture, fast disappearing as the traditional working practices of inland were either being rapidly industrialized or becoming increasingly untenable.
Jonssons work – as a field ethnologist at the Museum of Västerbotten and as an independent photographer, filmmaker and writer – is multifaceted and complex. His photographs were taken to bear witness to history, to illuminate and to narrate.
The Sune Jonsson Centre for Documentary Photography at Västerbottens museum now holds his entire archive, and the centre constitutes a venue for the documentary image in Sweden.