Liquids photographers in New York operate in a city with a close connection to the aqueous state. NYC is surrounded by water on all sides, with its boroughs dispersed across rivers and bays, traversed day and night from above and below. Like the water that flows around it, the city doesn’t stop moving. And, although liquids photography is a form of high-speed photography, a successful liquids photographer in New York will understand that lighting is actually more important than shutter speed to capture the unpredictable forms of fluids.
At Wonderful Machine, we define liquids photography as photography that depicts liquids as sometimes still, but often spilling, splashing, pouring, mixing, sweating, or foaming. Unlike beverage photography which focuses primarily on liquids as they appear in the drinkable form of a glass or bottle, liquids photography emphasizes the liquid itself. The 7 photographers gathered here all exemplify the current trends in liquid photography.
Specializing in the hospitality sector, Cayla Zahoran captures food and drinks for eateries in New York and other East Coast hubs. Although restaurateurs make up the majority of her clients, she is frequently hired by beverage firms to promote their libations. Because a liquids photographer must capture the most mystifying characteristic of liquids in a still image – i.e. movement – liquid photography is a challenging genre. In order to accomplish this, Cayla methodically constructs shadows and light contrasts that are set against carefully staged objects with meticulously coordinated color schemes. Her artifice with light accentuates a liquid’s visible qualities like color, effervescence, viscosity, or texture. All the while, she tempts the audience to reach for something hydrating and, perhaps even, intoxicating. In addition, however, it is her ability to draw our attention to the invisible qualities like flavor, refinement, and style that have continued to garner contracts from clients.
Martin Wonnacott is a liquids photographer in New York who claims that he has shot every form of liquid beverage. His portfolio features an extensive list of high-profile clients and international brands and demonstrates a level of technical proficiency and breadth of style that is not equaled by many in the industry. Both his still and motion images are pulsating and vibrant. He captures liquids crashing and splashing in tremendous detail, whether it is a close-up action shot or a carefully staged product photo. Martin stages images that animate liquids with light and movement. He has received numerous awards for his work such as a Cannes Gold Lion in 2019 and recognition from the Art Directors Club in 2023.
Richard Pierce is a liquids photographer in New York who works extensively with intricately constructed still-life arrangements and complex studio lighting. His photography blends abstract elements, such as splashes and diffused aqueous textures with definite objects like bottles, glasses, and other products. Richard makes use of negative space throughout his work to create images that stand out dramatically against a plain backdrop. His work often strays into abstract and conceptual depictions of familiar objects. Liquids photographers in New York like Richard must find the ideal balance between abstract expression and marketable product imagery to remain relevant to clients. His portfolio demonstrates that he is always on the quest for that optimal equilibrium.
Liquids photographers in New York have to continuously adapt and change their methods to keep pace with industry trends. Travis Rathbone’s portfolio demonstrates that he stays ahead of the trends. His use of complex lighting arrangements, high-focus lenses, and post-production processing produces still and moving images that reanimate liquids. An emphasis on detail draws viewers into the seductive and hypnotizing movement of liquids. Controlled lighting and flash set-ups create moments where liquids seem to hang in time while, simultaneously, enticing the viewer to rehydrate. International brands like Samsung, Budweiser, and Pepsi continue to return to Travis’ expertise because of his skill at blending the details of liquid while making them appear desirable.
Photographer Satoshi Kobayashi has made Brooklyn his home. His work, however, is informed by the aesthetics and beauty of Kyoto where was was born and lived most of his life. Satoshi’s liquids photography is a combination of still-life and motion. He captures the fleeting moment when liquids are erupting and splashing in all directions. Clear and viscous liquids in particular are his specialty. By capturing clear liquids in mid-air, Satoshi creates motion in a still image and makes something transparent and visible. He uses negative space throughout his portfolio to capture the spontaneous shapes of liquids in motion in a sculptor-like manner. Light and contrast emphasize textures and density. Extensive use of complex lighting and flash, as well as simple chemistry, allows him to capture liquids in this form.
Photographer Christopher Simpson liquids photography is playful, elegant, and detailed. Christopher is a liquids photographer in New York who also works regularly with clients in Denver and Los Angeles. He tends to shoot liquids in the form they are consumed. Many of his liquid photos are detailed images of beverages in refined glassware set against illuminated backdrops. He introduces patterns and repetition of shapes, textures, and light, using color contrasts to accentuate details of the liquid. Christopher frames liquids and beverages elegantly, casting strong shadows, enhancing the vibrance of colors, and accentuating textures. He works well with warm rich tones as well as bright and vibrant colors. His photography is often lighthearted and warm, and he brings this attitude to his work with celebrities and major brands.
The work of photographer Clair Benoist reminds us that liquids and liquids photography can take many forms. Her work with creams, lotions, and pastes for beauty and makeup brands exemplifies the breadth of the genre. Clair’s studio work is elegant and detailed. She creates carefully staged and lit environments that capture the density, texture, and movement of liquids that have a more viscous consistency. Complex lighting and compositional techniques create images that are precise and engaging. Her images evince sharp and vibrant colors with lighting that is always soft and clear.
Liquids photography in New York is always pushing the genre to the limit. Liquids photographers in New York are reshaping the boundaries of how liquids can be captured in still photographs. Their ability to adapt and invent new methods of capturing liquid forms embodies the aqueous state they work so hard to represent.
Read more articles about liquids photography on our blog.