Martin Wonnacott: Like Running Water

Written by Fredrik Franzén on . Posted in Product photography

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©Martin Wonnacott

Every photographer has his or hers favorite subject, and so does Martin Wonnacott. He shoots liquids. Bottled, pouring and splashing liquids.

Another one of Martin’s characteristics is his remarkably positive attitude. He is constantly joking and laughing, and it takes only a couple of minutes before it feels as if we have known each other for a long time.

Your webpage states that you’ve shot every liquid on earth. Is that true?

“Within the drinks industry, yeah. Almost. But I haven’t shot liquid gold or anything like that.”

Have you shot magma?

“No. Ha ha. No magma. I shoot drinks. Liquids. It’s not necessarily always alcoholic, though there is a fair amount of that, obviously. I shoot beverages, you might say. I’ve shot all the whiskeys, gins, vodkas, pepsis and cokes. One time at Times Square, I had two campaigns running at the same time – one for Pepsi and one for Coke. It was quite funny.”

Jameson lighting setup

Wonnacott's lighting setup

It’s a pretty narrow field. Why liquids?

“I just adore the whole area. When I was 17 and working as an assistant, the studio I was working in shot a lot of bottles for the local distillery, and it fascinated me! In fact, already when I was in school, I was obsessed about trying to shoot liquids pouring in my parents’ garage. Which was kind of weird, I guess?”

Yeah, kind of.

“Yes! Ha ha. But as I went self-employed, I couldn’t really start of as a specialist. You’ve got to earn your stripes. But slowly, slowly I honed myself back to where I started…”

“Martin is suddenly interrupted by a loud siren noise.”

What’s that? Tough neighborhood?

“No no, that’s the email.”

©Martin Wonnacott

©Martin Wonnacott

©Martin Wonnacott

©Martin Wonnacott

©Martin Wonnacott

©Martin Wonnacott

©Martin Wonnacott

Now where was I? asks Martin. “Right. The bottles – you know, they’re difficult to shoot!”

How come?

“Well, technically because they’re very shiny. And then you’ve got to bring life to them. It’s not enough to put a nice reflection on them. You’ve got to bring out some personality. You’ve got to feel the image when you see it.”

Is that where the lighting comes in?

“Lighting is everything. And for me, it’s about keeping it simple. It’s about stripping it back and not use too much light. It might sound crazy, but it’s necessary to find a balance and not overcomplicate things.”

Why did you choose Profoto to do that?

“Quality. It’s all about quality. I use the Pro-8 and the D4. The Pro-8 for speed and the D4 for all the other stuff.”

I guess it takes a lot of speed to freeze splashes of liquid.

“Exactly. Speed – you don’t always need it, but when you do, the Pro-8 is fantastic. I also love the software. I mean, it can be irritating at times. It doesn’t resize your window the way I want to, but that’s just a minor detail. I run all of my Pro-8’s and D4 packs from the screen, and it’s just fantastic. It brings along so much freedom to focus on the actual exploration.”

Suddenly there’s another loud noise, which sounds like a robotic elephant running amuck.

Now what was that? An sms?

“No. There’s a fire truck outside. I’m innocent. Ha Ha.”


Martin Wonnacott’s website

Written by Fredrik Franzén

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