The Human Connection

Scottish Elopement Film

Jonas Burman is like family to the WUN community. An irreplaceable character who everyone is happy to spend time with. On November 25th, he is hosting a workshop in Stockholm (in Swedish) called Portraits on Film.

To share some context behind why portraits mean so much to him – and an insight into his techniques – he has shared this guest post.

By Jonas Burman

When shooting portraits you will meet a lot of uncertain people and see many fake smiles.

I have found a way to get pass all that.

Let me tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, there was a man living in the darkest, coldest forest, way up north, in Sweden.

One day he found a beautiful old camera. When he held the camera, in his hands, a longing for an adventure woke, deep within him. So, he loaded the camera with one roll of film, and went on his way to the capital.

Arriving at the city the man still had no idea what to do with the camera, but then he saw all these famous photographers, that were going to speak at a gathering down town.

I could take portraits of all the speakers”, the man foolishly thought to himself, completely forgetting that he hadn’t shot film for 20 years, that he had made no preparations, and that he didn’t even know if the camera worked or not.

Before loosing his courage the man approached another man, named Cole, to ask him if he was allowed do portraits, of all the speakers. Cole was a bearded Canadian, that was responsible for the whole event, standing right by the stage where all the famous photographers soon would speak.

Excuse me”, the man began.

Yes?”, the bearded Canadian answered.

I was just wondering if I could do the portraits of all the speakers today”, said the man.

Go for it dude!”, the bearded Canadian answered, not knowing that the man had no business doing so.

So it was that the man got to do all the portraits of all the speakers, from that day on. The man was very happy and loaded his camera with more film, and together they shot more portraits than any one could count, and lived happily ever after.

That’s basically how I started, and continued to shoot all the portraits for Way Up North – but the secret behind how I do it has nothing to do with the camera, the film or the famous photographers that I shoot.

The secret is all thanks to human connection.

All the best portraits, ever made, have all been connective. And the connection has to be genuine, real and authentic for a portrait to really stand out. We can instantly feel when somebody is faking it.

I happen to believe that the human connection is always there. It’s nothing that we have to create – only allow – and I’ve got science on my side.

Years ago I found a psychological study about eye contact, that blew my mind.

Then I combined that with everything I knew from studying developmental psychology at the university, and my enormous interest for the human brain.

I created a technique based on merely eye contact, that I believed would work with about anyone, anywhere. All it would take was a camera, one person, some available light, and the right mindset.

The first time I got to put this technique to the test was, back then, at WUN Local, in Stockholm. And to my surprise it worked even better than I thought it would.

To this day the technique has never failed me, and I intend keep creating portraits with it for a long, long time.

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