Photowall meets Jonna Jinton
Jonna Jinton, the photographer, artist and blogger who has put the small village of Grundtjärn in Ångermanland province firmly on the map, welcomes us with open arms outside her little red cottage. She left Gothenburg five years ago, and moved up to her family’s summer cottage in northern Sweden – all alone. Grundtjärn – the place where her mother, grandmother and great grandmother were all born – has been Jonna’s favourite place for many years, and she spent several weeks here every summer when she was growing up.
“Even as a two-year-old I remember the feeling of being here; the smells, the calm, the silence. The feeling of washing clothes under the tap with grandma out in the meadow. I loved it, and as I grew up I realised more and more that this is where I wanted to be,” says Jonna, serving us coffee and homemade sponge cake in her rustic little kitchen.
After a few lost years in Gothenburg, she finally followed her dream. With just a few hundred euro to her name, she caught the train to Sundsvall where she bought an old Volvo 240 and continued up into the forests of northern Sweden. She didn’t have a clue what she was going to live on, and had no idea about all the challenges she would face. But in hindsight, she could never have dreamt how well everything would turn out.
“After several years of unemployment in Gothenburg, I got a job within a week of moving up here, painting the barn doors on a farm in a neighbouring village. I also started my blog, mainly so that friends and family could see how I was doing. But even in that first week I could see the number of readers increasing,” says Jonna.
Today she makes a living from her blog, her photography and her artistry. And although things are not always that stable financially, she gets by, as the cost of living in the country is far lower than in the city, even though she has sometimes had to sacrifice entertainment and travelling. She says that things are slowly but surely looking up, and that she always knew there would be a few tough years, but she has no regrets at all. According to Jonna moving back to the city has never really been an option, even though times have occasionally been tough – especially in the early days when she had no hot water and her only heat sources indoors were a wood stove and a stove heater. After a freezing night, she would be energised as soon as she stepped outside the door, into nature. Grundtjärn is where Jonna’s creativity, her heart, lives. Here she is the person she wants to be.
Creativity has always been a part of Jonna’s life, and she bought her first SLR camera when she was in high school. However, her inspiration truly blossomed when she moved to northern Sweden and started her blog.
“It’s so incredibly beautiful here in Grundtjärn, and I felt that words were simply not enough to describe it. So photography became a natural means for me to convey the feeling of this amazing place,” Jonna explains.
Jonna is self-taught – both as regards photography and photo editing. She is inspired by nature, of course, but perhaps primarily by light. Early mornings, evenings and summer nights are her favourite times. And when the mist dances across the mere, that’s when the real magic happens.
Jonna shows us around her little house. When I see her studio, I want to move in immediately. This is where she spends a lot of time working with her creativity. She sometimes stays awake all night painting – when she’s not out in the woods taking photographs.
Although Jonna modestly hardly even dares to call herself a photographer, people around the world are enraptured by her stunning images of nature: northern lights over snow-covered landscapes, enchanting summer nights, sparkling winter mornings and all the year’s seasons in the forest. Her photographs instil a sense of calm, a kind of magic that can make even the most die-hard city dweller long for the great outdoors. And she is just about to release her wallpaper collection for Photowall: The Soul of Nature, enabling people around the world to bring a bit of Grundtjärn’s magic into their homes.
I ask her if she has any tips for anyone who wants to follow in her footsteps and leave city life behind. How does one find the courage?
“You have to see opportunities rather than problems. You don’t have to have all the answers from day one. I think of it as a staircase: take the first step and more will be revealed. Things often come good in ways you’d never think were possible. And of course I only had myself to think about, which made it easier. No one else had to suffer when things went badly for a few weeks,” says Jonna.
Jonna lived alone in her cottage for several years, but a few months ago she met the love of her life, Johan, who used to live the other side of the woods. They now live together – with two dogs and two cats. While that may sound like a fairy-tale, life doesn’t really get much more real than this. With Mother Nature on the doorstep, and with a large helping of courage and single-mindedness, Jonna can live the very life she dreams of. In the very place she wants to be.
Text and photo: Isabelle Pedersen for Photowall