You may not know his name, you may not recognise his face, but you will most definitely have seen his work. Jonathan Marmand is a French photographer who has been composing product illustrations for many well known companies. From watches, jewelry to knives and diving material, Jonathan’s photography has ended up on the front of websites and product packaging wherever possible.
So who is he to the Airsoft world? Well, if you haven’t recognised the photo above, then you may have noticed the many other photographs of firearms and Airsoft guns he has taken. Jonathan Marmand’s photography has been used to advertise and illustrate products from the likes of Cybergun, WETTI, King Arms, Real Sword, G&G and more…
We fortunately had the great opportunity to interview Mr Marmand and ask him about his profession, great works, and current projects.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself, we feel as if we know so little about the man behind the art?
It’s the purpose of any pro photographer I believe! Making viewers forget about the photographer, to look at the subject only. That said, I like to add my own point of view in my photos, my way to see things, especially military firearms. They are not pieces of metal and wood/synthetic material only: they carry the history of the man behind.
For myself, I was born in August 15th 1983 in Le Gers, in the France South-West. I believe I can say I am a passionated guy for everything I do. Photography is one of them!
You have been a professional photographer for a long time, when did you start and what kind of photography was it?
I started photography around 1999/2000, after a trip to the U.S.A., where I saw many great photos in magazines. I had almost nothing as material at that time. Remember it was still the film days, and making photos was much harder with a 16 years old teen budget! It was fun though!
I became professional in 2002 when I made the cover photo of the now extinguished U.K. Airsoft magazine “Safezone”. The subject was a Tokyo Marui G36C partly disassembled. I used many coloured filters, as well as water to have the wished effect. It brings good memories!
What would you say is your favourite food?
I would say Indian food. I really love the mix of sweet and spices, colours, textures. It is really my favourite food! That said, I enjoy Chinese, Japanese, and of course, traditional French recipes, always tasty! I am fond of cheese, but what’s more normal for a French national?
How did you get noticed by airsoft companies for your photography?
I simply contacted them! Well, most of them I should say. I am proud to have work with so many manufacturers in the industry for their official promotional stuff. The best thing is that I have always been free to direct all artistic choices myself. I think a pro photographer must be able to either exactly follow the customer’s desires, but also find what would be the best. They always chose my own points of view.
What camera do you currently use for most of your projects?
I currently exclusively use a Nikon D800e with two lenses: the exceptional Nikkor PC-E 85mm f/2.8D and the basic Nikkor AF 50mm f1.8D. The latest was good enough for my previous Nikon D3x, but shows some limitations on the very discriminating D800e. That said, when not closed too much, it still delivers more than acceptable results!
You must have used many different cameras to perform your work, which would you recommend for someone starting photography professionally?
As long as studio photography is concerned, the answer is simple: lighting. All photography, and especially studio photography is about lighting. And composition. So my best advice would be: “get a book on lighting, and another one about composition, and study them!”
I too often see people buying more expensive photo material because they don’t perfectly master their current one and think a bigger camera, longer lens, will change things. Most of the time, more practice and study would correct things.
The French are famous for their love for wine, failing to avoid the stereotype, what is your favourite wine?
I am not a wine connoisseur, despite being French! But I like white Riesling wine the most.
You have photographed many firearms and airsoft products, but have you played Airsoft and/or enjoyed going to a shooting range as well?
Of course! I became an Airsoft and firearms photographer because I was fascinated by them! I wanted to show them as I was seeing them. So YES! I shot them a lot. Be them AEGs, GBBs, or real smokeless or black powder firearms.
I have a collection of old military firearms (bolt rifles mostly) from the XIXth century. They could be good subjects for a future project as well!
What would you say is your favourite movie or movies?
The Seven Samurais is my favourite movie. I think it is a milestone in cinema’s history.
What project have you taken on at the moment and what can you tell us about it?
I have just released a very high quality calendar about military firearms. It features some of the most classical firearms of the 20th century: AKM, M1911A1, M1 Garand, MG34 and more. It was very entertaining and fun to do! I believe it to be one of my most complete works ever.
What firearm would you say has been your favourite to photograph? and why?
It is not an easy question! Some were particulary beautiful, such as the Uberti 1842 Paterson, and its charcoal blue finish, or a fully finely engraved, fine walnut stocked, 1860’s LeFaucheux type shotgun. But to be fair, I am the most interested by military rifles, like the AKM, Mosin-Nagant, as they show part of their history through each ding and scratch.
Is there a product you haven’t photographed of which you would like to?
Custom bikes and classic cars would be fun! I might start a project on vintage tools too! (Well, not THOSE kinds of tools!)
Other than photography, do you have any other interests you pursue?
I am passionate of History, and have a lot of interest for music (any kind, any era), sci-fi, food from everywhere, my cats…
Do you know of any other photographers or artists we should look out for?
All the classical painters must be known and studied for their great approach of lighting, surpassing almost any photographer. Rembrandt, Caravaggio, De Vinci, etc. These artists are all our Masters!
I will resume by saying: study, but have a lot of fun and imagination making photos. Don’t hesitate to try new things, and be completely mind free when creating a new photo. After all, isn’t it this the purpose of Art?!
It was a pleasure talking to Jonathan Marmand and seeing how his work has changed the way we see airsoft products and firearms. We are looking forward to hearing from him in the future and would recommend you check out his work from his new calendar www.madeofsteelcalendar.com. If you have any questions to ask Jonathan, please comment below and we will try to ask him in a future interview.