Meet wine photographer Jon Wyand
For a second year running the Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year, a category of Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, received hundreds of exceptional images depicting vinous produce, people and places.
Entries came from some of the world's leading wine photographers but just one took home the main title of Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year 2014 and that was Jon Wyand.
The overall winning shot was his image entitled, 'Dominique Lafon tasting at his cellars' seen left which had been entered and won the 'People' sub-category.
Jon was also the winner of the 'Places' sub-category with his image of 'Château Corton André and Les Perrières vineyard' and took 2nd place in the 'People' sub-category.
We decided to invite Jon to join us on our blog and tell us more about his career in wine photography.
Please tell us about your background and what first interested you in wine photography?
Image credit (below): Greg Love
My background is travel and corporate work; people, work, and landscape. All things that come together when you shoot wine. I follow the suggestion of that great photographer Snowdon that photographers are craftsmen not artists. I have always admired his ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Every photographer or artist we admire has a, sometimes unrealised, influence on our work. For me, Snowdon, Jane Bown, Sebastiao Salgado, these I know I have admired but there are so many legendary photographers whose work is inescapable.
I find it difficult to cite landscape photographers. I feel its a more personal thing, often reflective of a unique coming together of situations and feelings. People are more complex and there is much more to think about.
Wine was something I discovered as a result of a 7 week assignment. Although I was utterly ignorant about it, the subject fitted like a glove, but I did not feel it presented a serious specialism for the future. However, eventually you’ll end up where chance and your abilities want to put you. I sometimes wish it had happened earlier but I’m ready for it now and perhaps was not before. Charles O’Rear in the US was a beacon twenty years ago and continues to be. An amusingly self-depricating man for someone who did 25 years at National Geographic. His work did not demand I copy it, it just confirmed I was on the right lines, albeit with a way to go.
What projects have you recently been working on?
I have just completed a book entitled “Une Anné en Corton" about the Hill of Corton, an important, if not unique, vineyard in Burgundy. I felt it was under celebrated, even though it was famous and had three very good local photographers living within 15 minutes of it. I still blog about it at http://jonatcorton.com .
My point of view has been to react to the beauty I have seen and to show the unsung side of wine making.
Object lesson: try not to miss what is right under your nose, try to appreciate that which you see daily and might easily take for granted…
It did take a bit of confidence to go through the hoops necessary to sell 2000 copies upfront in order for a publisher to take it on. I did have to maintain confidence in my approach, to spend time and money convincing a lot of people I could maintain my commitment and succeed over more than a year and give the project the priority it needed. Somehow I had enough passion and belief in the end result, as well as my ability to achieve what I was aiming for. Completing the task was an achievement, as was getting a publisher. Let’s see where we go from here….
What tips would you share with aspiring wine and/or food photographers?
You only have to watch TV or look in bookshops to see that the public’s interest in food is far greater than in wine. Food photography is a serious career, wine is a niche business that is only a pleasant diversion to most. But as a subject, like any other, it demands knowledge, experience and passion in order to succeed. Like most careers, if you are right for one another it will work sooner or later. I think that goes for photography generally.
Whatever the subject matter you need a point of view of your own and success and clients follow that, or not…
For me wine photography, as with most specialities, repays knowledge and understanding of the subject. Try to find an area you like that can sustain your interest over a long period. I’ve been visiting Burgundy since 1998 and, while I am “at home” working there it continues to offer me something new every visit. You have to take the long view.
Everyone involved in the business that you may deal with will know a lot about it. Its better for your contact with them to suggest you know less than you do, rather than vice versa ! Winemakers, with whom you need work a lot, can spot a fraud very quickly.
Image left: 'Worker empties a vat' was commended in the people sub-category.
What matters most when I’m shooting ? The light. For me it dictates viewpoint and composition. I have given up on all forms of additional lighting. The light of the location, be it inside or out, is what is important to me and the challenge is to use it well.
There are enough wine photographers out there with a wide variety of approaches and styles. You must find your own. And realise that we never finish learning and improving. Failure one year may be followed by great success next. My own Pink Lady® experience.