Iconic advertising photography by Jonathan Knowles

From famous product shots to award winning beauty images…

When leading advertising and still life photographer Jonathan Knowles shot the O2 bubbles, he never imaged the series of 10 images would become quite as iconic as they have.

Ahead of his live talk show, we asked Jonathan to tell us a little bit more about this famous series and some of his other work.

    O2 Bubbles

      O2 Bubbles by Jonathan Knowles
      O2 Bubbles © Jonathan Knowles.

      Year: 2001
      Camera: Sinar P2
      Film: Kodak E100S 5x4

      Settings: (Probably) f32 or f45, with a shutter speed of about 1/250, but the motion frozen by the Broncolor flashes with a duration of at least 1/4300, but as far as we could get it up to about a 1/7000th.

      The O2 Bubbles were shot on 5x4 film way back in 2001 in readiness for the launch of the new brand in April 2002.

      We produced 10 different images, each to represent a different aspect of the business, all with the same blue graduated background (this same blue grad is seen across all the stores and advertising to this day). The project took a total of two weeks to shoot and the colour of the brand was determined by my lighting and film choice, as I consulted with the Design Director of Lambie-Nairn, Gary Holt, around the lightbox in my studio.

        Graff Diamonds

          Graff Diamonds by Jonathan Knowles
          Graff Diamonds © Jonathan Knowles.

          Year: 2018
          Camera: Hasselblad H4D-60
          Settings: f/19, 1/750 sec, ISO 50

          Brave New World commissioned us to shoot a stunning colour explosion editorial for Graff Diamonds.

          A special effects crew assisted with exploding the colourful powders that featured proudly in the background. The crew created a rig which they attached balls of condensed coloured powder to. Timed to a millionth of a second, the crew activated the high explosive to explode each ball of powder. Capturing explosions such as this needs precise timing and often it requires numerous takes. On this occasion we exploded around 30 in total and the whole studio had to be protected with plastic because of the mess created.

            Dairy Cow

              Dairy Cow by Jonathan Knowles
              Dairy Cow © Jonathan Knowles.

              Year: 2011
              Camera: Canon 1DS Mk2
              Settings: probably f11-f16, 1/250 sec, ISO 100. Broncolor flashes with a duration of at least 1/4300, but as far as we could get it up to about a 1/7000th.

              This was a personal project, which forms part of my Splash Animals series, is something that I did with my retoucher. We had smashed some bottles and ‘seen’ some animal faces hidden within, so decided to create something more specific - specific shapes. I shot this on the Canon, firing several frames in a burst, rather than the one frame per splash that you can get on the Hasselblad, so that we could generate more material. I knew each piece would only be a small part of the final composition, so the quality would be fine.

                Heineken - Geometry Global

                  Heineken product photo by Jonathan Knowles
                  Heineken - Geometry Global © Jonathan Knowles.

                  Year: 2015
                  Camera: Hasselblad H4D-60
                  Settings: f22, 1/350 sec, ISO 50. Some other parts were integrated using light painting from a six-second exposure.

                  This is a project that we did with Heineken as a brand building campaign. We had a couple of days of experimentation in the studio to explore various routes with the creative team, and then followed that a couple of weeks later with a shoot of the three selected ideas.

                  In this particular image we managed to get the logo into every droplet using my experience of the laws of physics. The logo had to be placed upside down in an area that would be ‘seen’ by each droplet so that it appeared the right way up in the shot. Each droplet acts as a lens in its own right.


                      Aida for ENO by Jonathan Knowles
                      Aida © Jonathan Knowles.

                      Year: 2017
                      Camera: Hasselblad H6D-100c
                      Model: f16, 1/250 sec, ISO 64
                      Light shaft: f11, 4 seconds, ISO 64

                      This was an image that was shot to promote the new production of Aida at the English National Opera (ENO).

                      We shot the main image of the figure in the shaft and pool of light in our studio. Additional frames were shot for extra definition in the shaft of light around the figure. We then created the rest of the vast area apparent in the background and shaft of light from other elements shot separately. We also produced a 30 second cinema commercial for it.

                        To see more of Jonathan’s work, visit his website at https://jknowles.com/. You can also see him live on our talk show, where he’ll be chatting to Karl about his career and techniques, as well as answering live questions from our members.

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