"I have no preconceptions at all when a product arrives" he says. "I put all my lights to one side at the end of a job and I just do things one at a time - get a light on the subject and see what it does; move it around a bit; experiment.
I don't work to any formula. I won't ever put a light in a certain position just because that's what I did yesterday or because I saw someone else shoot it that way. I do it because it looks right at that moment. It's all about trying different things. I believe you can't ever know you've actually got the best shot until you've seen what the worst might be."
Jonathan will normally allow six hours for a main shoot but after about two hours he will have 90% of the shoot done. The other 10% - which is all about achieving the very best shot possible - will probably take four more hours.
He admits that often the client wouldn't even notice the difference between the result after two hours and the result after six hours.
"But the point is I am constantly striving for perfection" he admits. "And I charge for the job, not by the hour, so there are no surprises in the bill for the client. I work six days a week and I am just more accepting now that things often take longer than you think. Well it does if you want the best results"
Some commentators on his work think that Photoshop has played a large part in the final image. But that is not the case.
"There is a philosophy out there of lighting conservatively and then getting creative with Photoshop later" he says. "The truth is that you can get 90% of the way there with Photoshop but you can never get that other 10%. You might not notice the difference in a magazine print but you will as soon as you scrutinise the file."
Jonathan has collected a lot of kit - most of it Bowens -but doesn't have huge budgets to throw at his equipment inventory.
"For my budget Bowens has the best balance between quality and cost.
The QuadX pack isn't cheap but it's about half the price of an equivalent alternative and it's just superb. Its 1/10-stop increments allow me to use my heads down to the precise tenth required.
I do all my liquid splash shots with the QuadX pack - some of the splashes are quite violent but with this kit I can freeze them in time and they are just pin-sharp."
He adds: "The Bowens range is comprehensive; plenty of grids, Wafer softboxes and shaping tools - and the Gemini 750 monolights are excellent. My favourite dish is the Maxilite - it has a really nice hot spot and fall off when you use it close to something.
When I am shooting an iron, for example, and need to highlight a shape or a ridge I can use a Maxilite through a diffusion screen. I can line up two or three of them and create a suite of light on the diffusion material."
Jonathan employs the Bowens Hi-Glide system in a highly unorthodox way too. "You're not supposed to do it but I can set a light up and swing it. Then I can have a look from the camera and see what it's doing as it swings like a pendulum. The 500DX monolight is quite light and works well on the Hi-Glide system, thanks to the swing arm. This arm is a piece of pure Bowens genius. It means I can point a light straight down and have it perfectly balanced."
Jonathan is a big fan of the Bowens Pulsar radio trigger system too.
He notes: "I've got four. I've also got Pocket Wizards and they work in much the same way but I am getting much better reliability form the Pulsars. Annoyingly the Pocket Wizard batteries will last about a week compared to about two months with the Bowens product."
The next Beer shoot will be all about coffee packaging in Moscow but Jonathan definitely won't be carting 20 heads across Europe.br>
"I'll just hire a studio and lighting equipment when I get there" he says. "But I will insist on having all the lighting I need.
Lighting is all I've got really. Unlike a fashion photographer I can't connect with a model and really bring out a moment. I just differentiate myself by putting more attention to the lighting."
There are 173 days to get ready for The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
which starts on Wednesday 17th March 2021