Michal Venera’s liquid assets


After years of living in Northern California for years, Michal Venera has amassed an impressive roster of winery clients—and a sixth sense for all the lighting and shooting secrets that photographers can use to make liquids look beautiful. Which is why Republic of Tea has been coming back to work with him for more than five years. That and the fact that Michal’s studio, set on a 36-acre olive and sheep farm in the rolling hills of West Marin, is the perfect all-in-one location for the combination of precision tabletop and spontaneous lifestyle shots they’re looking for. On a recent catalog and web-shoot, Michal produced a full library of images in a single day, shot with a seamless mix of natural and artificial light. One of the things clients love about his studio is the ability to get those “golden hour” shots in the early morning and late afternoon, and then spend the hours in between on indoor studio work. And when it comes to tabletop, Michal’s got another secret weapon. He’s a self-described hoarder—“but a highly organized one!”—with three shipping containers of neatly shelved and stacked surfaces and props for clients to choose from right on the property.