Jon Wyand: My Wine Photography Journey
Jon Wyand, who has, remarkably, three times won the accolade of Errazuriz Photographer of the Year, shares his own photographic story with us - as well as his top three tips to entrants!
How did your journey in photography begin?
As a professional photographer I cut my teeth on travel books. Among which were The World Guide to Beer, The World Guide to Spirits and Liqueurs and Great Vineyards and Winemakers, a seven-week assignment in the vineyards of France, Germany and Italy. It was here that my taste for shooting landscape, portraiture and work came in to play.
I knew nothing about wine but those seven weeks taught me a lot. I acquired not only expertise but found a subject, however nîche, that I could specialise in. With luck and a few breaks, things accelerate and experience grows but I am still learning, which keeps life interesting.
‘Dominique Lafon tasting at his cellars’ by Jon Wyand, 1st, Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year - People, 2014
Tell us some of your favourite pictures from Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year
The girl in the vat, the 2023 overall winner by Thierry Gaudillere has a wonderfully understated calm, beauty and authenticity. I know he originally intended to enter it in 2022 but forgot!
‘Girl After Emptying a Tank at the End of the Fermentation’ by Thierry Gaudillère, 1st, Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year - People, 2023
So don’t procrastinate putting in your entries. I’m sure that picture would win any year so I was lucky not be competing with it when I won that year.
In fact Gathering prunings on Corton Hill had been shot several years earlier but overlooked and only while trawling through my files did I rediscover it and decide to enter it in 2022. Winners come from from surprising places sometimes. I had not seen this as interesting enough to be successful.
‘Gathering Prunings On Corton Hill’ by Jon Wyand, 1st, Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year - People, 2022
Robert Capa, the renowned war photographer said, “If the picture isn’t good enough, you weren’t close enough.” Something to bear in mind. I don’t know if he ever shot wine but I found Don McCullen had got to one Argentinian winery long before I did!
Another favourite by Marina Spironetti won the Places category in 2022. A stunning image of the Antinori winery in Chianti. The lesson to learn from this is, even out of season, you must stay alert to other possibilities whenever and wherever there might be an opportunity.
‘Architecture And Wine’ by Marina Spironetti, 1st, Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year - Places, 2022
How do you view the judging process?
By coincidence I’ve just been judging for a photographic competition on JancisRobinson.com.
It was my debut as a judge - I really had to stop reacting instinctively and think about my choices.
Some people look for an instant impact from a picture, I guess you need that hook to catch a judge who is wading through hundreds, even thousands of pictures, looking for a shot that will stop people and make them linger. The trouble is impact has a short shelf life and won’t last long. In a magazine, OK but in a book or anywhere encountered regularly, it needs to have staying power.
I was certainly happy to find originality in a picture and that will be more important in a big competition with thousands of entries. So I’d advise having a good look at previous entries over the years and use it as a filter to make sure you don’t enter copies. I think it’s best to forget about pleasing judges. If there was a formula for that, competitions would be very boring. Choose your favourites but, win or lose, be prepared to learn from the outcome so next time it won’t be a matter of luck.
If you can establish a strong interest in wine, you will eventually find your own style and voice but knowledge of the subject is a great asset in photography. I’d recommend getting hold of a copy of The World Atlas of Wine, it’s written by experts and, although possibly too big to travel with, it’s a great research tool as well and excellent pictures.
For wider reading on wine, look at the Academie du Vin Library where you’ll even find my book too, so it’s not just aimed at experts. The three sections of Errazuriz: People, Places and Product require different interests and abilities. I am still waiting to see myself on the wall with a product shot but I keep trying and may well resubmit a favourite that got nowhere in the past.
What are your three top tips?
Respect your subject by learning about it and the people involved. The more you know, the more you notice. Keep it real.
Have patience. If at first you don’t succeed, keep going. It can be good to wait.
Curiosity can reveal more than you expect. If you can’t find a picture, the best cameras don’t help.
‘Cleaning The Cuverie At Domaine Faiveley, Mercurey’ by Jon Wyand, 1st, Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year - Places, 2019
The overall winner of this year’s Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year will receive £1000GBP to accompany their trophy. Winners of the sub-categories, Produce, People, Places, will also win a trophy. Take a look at everything that’s in our incredible prize pool. It includes money, vouchers, features in magazines and much more!
Want some more inspiration for this award? Check out the archive of past Finalists in Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year.
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