Interview With Product Photographer Jonathan Knowles

World-famous advertising and product photographer Jonathan Knowles joined Karl in the studio for this incredible live talk show.

From light hearted stories about shoots-gone-wrong to more serious discussions about lighting techniques, pricing and working with agents, Jonathan opened up about his 30-year career and shared some valuable insight with our members.

Together the pair discussed Jonathan’s style, his workflow, techniques for capturing high-speed motion, the importance of understanding and executing the brief and the changes in photography over the years. Jonathan also shares some of his best advice for aspiring photographers looking to make their mark in the industry and explains why it’s so important to keep developing and growing your skills.

This insightful live show offers a unique opportunity to learn from two leading commercial product photographers.

Topics covered in this live photography talk show:

  • How to become a professional product photographer
  • Working with advertising agencies and executing the brief
  • Pitching ideas and winning clients
  • Techniques for photographing high-speed motion
  • Lighting painting and long exposures for product photography
  • Expanding your skills and adapting to the market
  • The future of commercial photography

We also caught up with Jonathan ahead of the live show to find out exactly how he achieved some of his images. You can read more about that in this blog post: ‘A closer look at some of Jonathan Knowles’s most iconic work’. If you have any questions about this live show, please post in the comment section below.


    1. Hi, are you sure you didn’t mean 1/10,000th of a second which would be Broncolor Scoro or Siros or some of the Profoto range and others. If you meant something else please can you let me know at what time in the video so I can check what we were talking about, thank you.

      1. 51mins n when you reference the milk corona shot. one-millionth of a second flash systems, maybe I misunderstood the maths.

        thank you this platform has been very helpful, Karl.

  1. great talk show for sure . listening from a legend is just worthy . i just wanna know what kind of mechanism he use for explosion of those color and flower petals ? and thankyou karl .

  2. Absolute genius. Proper old school pro blowing away the young guns. Just brilliant. Must be Karl’s hero and mentor.

  3. Please introduce Double like button below these videos !

    Loved it absolutely, thanks for asking such detailed questions Karl and all responses were so informative.

    ”Portfolio should show consistency in ‘vision’ ” – is one of the biggest takeaways from here.


  4. I disagree with Jonathan about texturing the barrel in CG. I used to work in the feature film industry as a texture artist and can say from personal experience that every type of textural detail Jonathan mentioned could have been put into a shader definition (partly through textures). If it was done for a feature film, those details would have been an absolute requirement. The issue as I see it isn’t whether it could be done or if it could be as convincing as a photo, but the cost. For instance, when I worked on the Spider-Man movie, one of our texture artists spent at least a month texturing a pair of worn gloves and tennis shoes worn by the Peter Parker character before he makes a Spider-man suit. That texturing job likely cost Sony around $12,000-$15,000, and doesn’t count the cost of making shaders to accommodate the textures, the modelling of the objects, or the rendering. In all, those objects could have conceivably cost $25,000, not counting the time to animate and render them in action.

    The advantage CG has in some areas, like automobiles, is that the client is highly likely to have a model ready to use, with shaders and textures already made for their own in-house usage among designers. The disadvantage of these models is that they are usually so complicated that they must be de-rezed before they can be rendered. Products like detergents, vacuum cleaners, and other objects that are typically designed in CG (CAD/CAM) first, will always have models available, making it easy to put together a simple white background render. However, if the package or object has to do anything, it can be very expensive, even if the models and shaders are provided by the client. For instance, I once worked on a Cheetohs commercial where I had to texture a bag of cheetohs. It took longer than expected to get it to look right, much longer than simply buying a bag off the shelf and photographing it. However, the bag had to “walk”, and that was why it was animated instead of photographed.

  5. HI Karl, really just a note to say how much I enjoyed your interview with Jonathan Knowles and a look, behind the scenes of his life’s works to date. Don’t hold out on apple, but colorful English, exploding stamps could be interesting & a fun time.
    It’s amazing how much of these, big advertising campaign, imagines we & I (Jo Public), can still remember being around, in daily lives years later, in the tube, on the bus, walking the dogs.
    And now with device screens in the daily lives of, (Jo Public’s) millions of eyeballs & earplugs.
    Where are these big advertising / propaganda, whatever .. Campaigns going. And through, the very latest and greatest technology, does it matter?
    Probably not, as they all still need, human imagination and, good IMAGES.
    Thanks again to you and your crew, for a wonderful show.
    John Burnie

  6. Hi Karl,
    Thanks again for a very interesting talk show. Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch it live.
    While watching the recording, you mentioned John’e awards and this triggered a question I have for quite a long time now.
    Can we as photographers, submit a photo or photos shot for a client (for whatever purpose) to competitions or are we obliged to ask for the clients approval?
    Would appreciate your advice.


    1. Hi Danny, I don’t know any photographer who has ever been concerned about that so I’m sure it’s fine as long as you haven’t had to sign anything saying you can’t.

  7. DougHowell

    I had never heard of Jonathan Knowles before this show, what talent and technical know-how. Excellent show Karl.

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