Marcus Peel

Product Photography of the Year 2023

Interview with Marcus Peel about ePDA Product Photography of the Year: CURVE Bench

Q: Can you briefly tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue photography?

I was hugely inspired by a friend’s mum, Heather Angel, who’s a highly respected wildlife photographer. I remember feeling awe-inspired each time I saw a new collection of slides on the lightbox. It was magical to me and I was hooked.

At school I had the opportunity to study photography and grabbed it without hesitation. This led me on to a degree in photography at The Surrey Institute of Art and Design where I had the privilege of being tutored by David Bate and Robin Dance.

During my foundation course one of my peers mentioned that he had spent the summer doing work experience with two architectural photographers. I asked for their phone numbers and called them immediately! They said to call back after I graduated – which I did – and they asked if I would be interested in being their assistant. I jumped at the opportunity and assisted for a year before getting itchy feet and deciding to launch my own business.

Q: What drove you to submit your work to the ePDA competition, and your thoughts on how winning this competition impacted your artistic journey?

I enjoy photographing products with architecture. It comes from my love for photographing environmental portraits, capturing people in spaces which reflect the person’s character. It also gives me great pleasure to give my client, Nina Moeller, publicity of her product, CURVE Bench. After all, I wouldn’t be speaking to you if it weren’t for her, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Winning the title has reinforced my self-belief in what I do and has given me an extra boost of energy to progress with new product photography and video.

Q: Could you describe any challenges you faced while working on your winning project? How did you overcome them?

Finding the right location was a challenge. We wanted somewhere which supported the idea of being outside and with the use of sustainable materials.

During pre-production, while brainstorming with Nina, I noticed there were old benches outside some of the fishermen’s huts and we decided to echo this with Nina’s bench. We were drawn to the aesthetic contrast between the 16th century huts and the contemporary bench, and the starkness of white against black.

I chose my moment to photograph carefully, when the sun was at about 45 degrees, behind thin white cloud. The partially diffused light reveals detail and texture in the shadows and highlights, while keeping contrast between the white of the bench and the black of the huts. Most importantly, the choices I made about light and colour help to define the form and shape of CURVE Bench.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the most important factors in creating great artwork?

Being true to yourself. It might sound a bit funny but by choosing to go with decisions that align with you and your beliefs, your authenticity will come through in your work.

Q: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of product photography?

Finding the right location as a backdrop for the product, and the weather!

Q: What motivates and drives your work?

My passion for photography.

Producing personal work alongside my commercial work. One inspires the other. 

Following my inspirators, past and present; Bernd and Hilla Becher, Moby and Eckhart Tolle, to name just a few.

Going to exhibitions and talks. 

Sharing thoughts, ideas and new work.

Staying connected with people with an open mind and an open heart.

Speaking from my own experience, I wholeheartedly believe in the saying, ‘a relaxed mind is a creative mind’. Running, music, meditation and a healthy diet are some of the many powerful tools I find help build this mindset.

Q: What’s next for you in your career as a photographer?

I’m about to shoot my next video, alongside my photography, for an architectural practice. I’m also in the middle of a personal project of Winchester Cathedral; and I’m nearing the end of a two-year project documenting all of the remaining murals in the UK for the artist, STIK.

View all 2023 Product Photography winners here.