By Emma Lucas
Aqueous Rainbow Skies
Mark Mawson is a London based photographer with more than 25 years of experience in capturing a full spectrum of people and places. He held his first camera at the age of eight and has been passionate about photography and lighting ever since. Mark has worked in London as well as travelling extensively around the world shooting for clients.
Mark specialises in shooting still life, fashion & people underwater. His well known ‘Aqueous’ series of liquids started out as a fun, personal project but has since become world renowned. A video of it was projected onto Buckingham Palace in front of The Queen as the backdrop to Sir Paul McCartney’s ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ as part of the Diamond Jubilee Concert.
We got the opportunity to have a chat with Mark and to learn a bit more about his work with photographing liquids and underwater, what it was like to have his work featured at The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, and of any future plans he has. Read on to gain a full insight into his thoughts!
Production Paradise: Why did you choose to go into liquid and underwater photography? What interests you about that particular subject?
Mark Mawson: I had the idea for my ‘Aqueous’ liquid work after watching milk being poured into coffee. I was fascinated by the shapes it created as the milk and coffee blended together. I had seen lots of ink and water shots but wanted to try something different. I really enjoy creating beautiful, colourful and interesting shapes with the liquids. They resemble sea creatures or alien landscapes and I like the way the viewer forms their own interpretation of what they look like.
I started doing underwater work after I did one shoot which worked so well that I decided to specialise in it. I was doing a series of images with a stunt woman. The first shot involved chaining her to a concrete block on the bottom of the sea as if she had been dumped off a boat. The way the water acted with the hair and fabric of the dress was beautiful. I really enjoy the peaceful atmosphere it creates.
Production Paradise: Are there any difficulties you face when photographing liquids or underwater?
Mark Mawson: The difficulties with the liquid work are that I can’t replicate each image exactly the same. Because of the organic nature of the flowing liquids, each shot is unique and there is sometimes some trial and error to get the exact effect I want.
The difficulties with underwater work are more complex. Obviously safety of the model and crew are very important and that takes up a lot of time during the shoot. Moving around underwater is much slower than it would be in a studio, so setting up equipment underwater takes much longer and also positioning the model is more time consuming and complex. There is also the communication underwater, which can be done using underwater microphones and speakers or it has to wait til we surface to give any direction.
Production Paradise: A video from your ‘Aqueous’ series was projected onto Buckingham Palace as a backdrop at The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert. How did it feel to be able to achieve something most people only dream of doing? Was it a defining moment in your career?
Mark Mawson: That was definitely an extremely proud moment and a defining moment in my career. I was fortunate enough to have worked with the production company who were responsible for the projections onto the Palace and they wanted to use the video. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of the video being projected onto the Palace to show people.
Backdrop at Buckingham Palace
Production Paradise: You have used the ‘Aqueous’ technique with many clients for various campaigns. Is it challenging to achieve the effect, or would you say you’re an expert now?
Mark Mawson: It is always challenging as I want to make it better than the last time. I have to vary the liquids I use depending on the effect I’m after and I know what consistencies will give different results. I’d like to think I’m an expert at it!
Production Paradise: What has been your most memorable shoot? Could you give us a background story?
Mark Mawson: Each shoot is memorable for different reasons. The video shoot that was projected onto Buckingham Palace was definitely a memorable one, just because of the scale of it and how it would be used. It was originally shot Elton John to use in his Las Vegas gigs.
Production Paradise: What have you found most useful about being a Production Paradise member?
Mark Mawson: Being a Production Paradise member helps me keep my name and images out there and lets people find me who otherwise, maybe, wouldn’t.
Production Paradise: Is there another artistic technique you would like to experiment with, or a particular client you would like to work with in the future?
Mark Mawson: There are so many clients I would like to work with. I would like to shoot to images for many drinks brands. I’d also like to shoot more fashion and beauty campaigns underwater. There are so many untapped opportunities for my work to be used. I’m planning to combine the liquid work with the underwater for a series next year. Fingers crossed it will look great!
Aqueous I & II
Aqueous I & II