Venice, the femme fatale

A malarian swamp, hit by the tide, seems like the worst place ever to lay the foundations of a city. Unless you have to escape the axes of the Barbarian warriors, come to burn, steal and kill. It’s the 5th century, the Roman Empire is on its knees, the system is collapsing, everybody’s on their own. It’s chaos. 
That swamp doesn’t look so bad now, does it? 

Those few miles of shallow water between Venice and the mainland are the very same reason why the city has grown into one of the most fascinating places in the world. Far from the mainland’s politics and schemes, Venice has always been different from any other place.
A city built from fear turned into a diamond embedded along the Italian east coast. 
By walking aimlessly in the narrow streets of Venice you can feel the great beauty of this timeless and unique city: the signs of its decadent splendour and its glamorous past leave you breathless at every corner. The dream of every photographer. Then suddenly the thought hits you: this is not just a city, just a location, just the venue of some events in history; Venice is itself the main character of its own story, where people and wars and events are only temporary elements of its own personal tale.

If Venice was a person, it’d be a woman. It would be the femme fatale that stares at you across a crowded room, she’d be the mysterious lady that grabs your soul and conquers you by charm. The embellished facades of the buildings become her embroidered gown, the Byzantine architecture is her jewellery, the perfume of the incense her seductive scent, the vivacity of the markets her impudent laugh, the Canal Grande the spine along which you want to run your fingers. 
Venice is the irresistible sin you want to get lost in.

From day to night

I took this photo when I was in south of Italy, some weeks ago.
I was at the daily market, taking some pictures, and went for a walk along the beach, to have a look at the fishing boats. Facing the sea there is a beautiful medieval castle, built by the Hohenstaufen during the 13th century. It’s surprisingly well preserved, and despite the fact that this has always been a land of battles and occupations, time has only scratched its walls.
Anyway, when I went home and looked at this photo I saw nothing.

Was about to bin it, but then at a second look I saw some potential. 
What if I change something?
What if it was taken at night? 
But I can’t go back at night.
Then what if I make it look like it was taken at night?
So I turned my laptop on, opened my notebook, grabbed my graphic tablet and started playing around: I darkened it, I added some blue, desaturated a bit, painted the lights, the flares, the rain. Different kinds of rain, ‘cause otherwise it would look too fake. A bit of fog here and there.
I had to stop myself after a while, ‘cause the possibilities were unlimited.
It doesn't look great, it was just a fun thing to do, I didn’t even put that much effort in making it look like a very realistic scene, but it opened a whole new world of opportunities: editing photos is an art itself, and your only limit is your imagination.

The mountain calls you

“Guhkkin davvin Dávggáid vuolde sabmá suolggai Sámieanan”
(Far up North 'neath Ursa Major Gently rises Saamiland)
Sami national anthem

I have spent perhaps the most beautiful days of my life exploring the area around Lyngseidet, in the north of Norway.
I had never been in the Arctic, and I was expecting merciless cold and thick darkness.
Found neither: the full moon reflecting on the snow and the sun teasing from below the horizon gave enough light to take good photographs, and the clothes I got were so warm that the cold and the wind were soon forgotten.
I had already heard locals talking about their lands, and got very curious by the fact that in their stories the mountain was a vivid presence. “The mountain calls you”, they said. Like a person, something alive. A sort of spirit. Now that I’ve seen it with my eyes I can understand what they meant: the constant presence of these high mountains, with their big vertical slopes that make them so close to you, is a reminder of how small and insignificant we truly are. For centuries people here have lived and died at the foot of the mountain, depending on the weather, adjusting their daily life according to the elements. If you want to survive, you will have to adjust to the world, not the other way around.
There is no escape, there is no mercy.
And yes, the mountain does call you, to show you how magic nature can be. It gives you everything if you’re willing to embrace it. It shows you the slow relentless passage of time through the rocks split by the ice. It shows you its silent strength through the cracks over the icy surface of the sea, broken by the tide. It shows you all the shades of pink through the clouds in the sky. It shows you its rage, by smacking the ground with the sharp wind. It shows you the spirit of the ancient gods, evoked by the northern lights.
Never in my life I’ve felt so mortal and at the mercy of the elements.
Never in my life I’ve felt so in tune with the world.

A day at the market

 

Since I left my hometown I have naturally absorbed the big city’s habits and made the urban routine mine. Even more so when I moved to Copenhagen: the cold modern hub in the north. One of these habits is buying food at the supermarket where everything is selected, packed and wrapped; you don’t even need to have any interaction with other people.
So when I had a walk at the daily market during my Christmas holidays in south of Italy, I felt a bit like a tourist. I had forgotten about all the different colours, noises and perfumes. The genuine feeling of buying fresh fish, still alive. The farmers offering you a taste of fruit. The smell of the cheese stalls. The sacks of local almonds. The boys yelling. How much per kilo. Counting your coins.
I returned back home with plenty of photos and a bag full of mussels and clams.
What a great meal we had.

Photo reportage: abandoned airport

Yesterday I joined François, the ultimate Copenhagen Urban Explorer, in one of his tours: we biked to the abandoned military airport near Værløse, 20 km northwest of Copenhagen. 
We had a stroll among the remains of the glorious Danish air force, stepping cautiously on broken glasses and rotten beams.
I took some photos to show you how time has turned the site into a powerful image of vandalism.

Photo reportange: Milan

I spent some beautiful days in Milan last week.
I didn’t know the city, as I hadn’t been there before, but I loved its coherence and its contradictions from the first moment: elegance, style and subtle religiousness, avant-garde and tradition, noise and silence. This is what Milan gave me.
I wanted to improve my street photography skills, and show things as I was experiencing them.
Here you can see some photos I took with my invisible compact camera.

The colour of sun and wheat

As a wedding photographer, there’s one thing that I notice every time I step into a church: tones and colours. 
Here in Denmark there’s a lot of white and grey, sometimes blue tiles, sometimes red bricks, and a lot of dark wood: usually, the atmosphere is quite cold.
In the warm south of Europe the dominant colour is yellow. The colour of sun and wheat.
Where I am from, it’s very common to find old buildings made of tuff: palaces and churches with big, rough, porous bricks. It looks like a soft sponge that you can squeeze. 
In some other areas, like in Sicily, the most common rock is yellow marble.
These rocks contribute to give your photos a sense of warmth that you couldn’t achieve otherwise.
And as a wedding photographer, that’s very important.

The importance of details in wedding photography

When we think about wedding photographs our mind goes to the main events of the day: the ceremony, the cake, the portraits.
Between these big moments though, there are small elements that are as relevant, and there is one thing that a good wedding photographer should never overlook: the details.
Shooting weddings is stressful, there is so much going on in one day. But months and months of planning go into that single day, and capturing all the aspects of it becomes crucial. It’s our job as wedding photographers to freeze in time something that took so much time and effort: couples may have dreamt about this day for a long time, thinking about every single detail, pondering over every aspect of their wedding day. Yes, even the place cards at the table.
It’s something they want to remember, and it's our responsibility to create their memories.
Many wedding photographers for example take lots of photos of the bride's dress, and then they neglect the shoes. If we try so see things from the bride's point of view, we'll soon understand the importance of details: she has carefully chosen her shoes among many, because of their fabric, colour, whatever. She wants to remember them. And yes of course she will have hundreds of photos with her shoes on, but a photo of the shoes before she even wears them will preserve their memory forever: it will be like the first time she saw them.

Denmark, home of kings and queens

In Helsingør, at the narrowest point of the Øresund sea, where the coast of Sweden is so close that it looks like you can touch it, rises Kronborg castle.  The castle was immortalised by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, so you can imagine the volume of tourists and its importance for the local economy.
I went there last weekend to take photos of the Renaissance Festival, where the castle gets crowded by knights, merchants, blacksmiths and jesters.
It was a cold rainy day, the kind of cold rainy day you can experience in Northern Europe in mid October. But I made a terrible mistake: didn’t consider that most of the festival was going to take place outdoor and that it’s always super windy in Helsingør. The rain felt like a knife on my face and my hands were red from the cold (because of course, I didn’t bring my gloves).
So at the end of the day I went home shaking and with a bad cold.
Lesson learnt: no matter what you think, it’s still SCANDINAVIA.

Old places, new eyes

Someone says traveling is that thing that leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller. 

We think we know our own home land by heart: we believe that we know every place, that we’ve seen everything there’s to see. Sometimes, we think there isn’t much worth a visit.
So I wasn’t super excited today when I went with some friends to visit the Abbey of Santa Maria of Pulsano, a shrine on the mountain, founded in the 6th century.
I had promised myself not to take my camera with me, to take a real break, but I couldn’t help it, and put my Canon into my backpack.
And then something happened: I began seeing old places with new eyes.
Suddenly I noticed the astonishing view, the beautiful church built in a cave, the breathtaking paths to the caves used by the hermit monks. I was excited like a kid, as my friends in Copenhagen know: they got ALL THE PHOTOS on snapchat :)

Why weddings?

When you start in photography they all tell you the same thing: you have to find your sub-category, since you can’t do everything in the huge photography world. 
For me it was imperative to take pictures of people, somehow: no matter whether it was fashion, weddings or corporate photography, I need to interact with people, or I would get immediately bored.
There is only one sub-category in the immense photography field where you can experience so many different kinds of emotion: weddings. 
Because it’s your stories.

CPH Fashion Week

"Fashion is one of the most beautiful forms of art we have. It’s a form of art that every person gets to possess and create for themselves” Jim James

Twice a year Copenhagen hosts the Copenhagen Fashion Week, the largest fashion event in the nordic countries. The city gets crowded with designers, models, buyers, press, and it turns into a runway. You can feel the excitement, the hectic energy, and the glamorous beauty.
I had never been an active part of the Copenhagen Fashion Week, but this year Nixonbui and I worked together on the catalogue of his Spring/Summer 17 collection.
Stay tuned if you wanna see more photos ;)

Dust, mud and concrete

Safety helmets, boots and high visibility vests must be worn at all times.

I have always wondered about the mechanism behind things. You know that kid that always dissembles toys and objects to find out about the inner working? That was me.
So when one of the companies responsible for the new metro in Copenhagen asked me to go and take some pictures of the work in progress I couldn’t help it and said yes immediately. 
So I got some safety shoes, a high visibility jacket, a huge helmet and a course about safety. I had the chance to visit the site of Marmokirken, the deepest of the whole metro system with its 40m below sea level, and the most challenging one with its tracks one above each other, and not on each side of the platform, like all the other stations.
It was a very nice experience: after all, it doesn’t happen every day to go underground and see tunnels, platforms and tracks in the making. 
Despite the dust, the mud and the concrete all over me.

Beware of the dog

Pompeii was a small Roman town buried under meters of volcanic ash in AD 79.
It was rediscovered in the 18th century. 
The lack of air and moisture partly preserved the town.

Today I went to visit some venues for a wedding I’m going to shoot at the end of the month in Copenhagen.
The restaurant where the party will be held is a cosy place on the ramparts of the canals in Christianshavn.
As I was about to walk in, I stepped on the perfect copy of an ancient mosaic found in a house in Pompeii.
I looked at it for a very long moment, and suddenly all the years spent studying Latin hit my mind: I could hear the sound of the chalk on the blackboard and smell the old books, and I could remember all the hours walking in my room, saying the Latin verbs out loud, to remember them better.
I thought about Rome. About its everlasting culture and its legacy. I thought about the timeless myths, as ancient as history. About the story of an empire that lasted a thousand years.
But also the time spent to pass that Latin exam felt like forever.

Radio Pizza

Some weeks ago I took some photos for a radio run by volunteer, Radio Pizza.
Yes, they’re Italians: Radio Pizza is an association of volunteers that, from several cities in Europe, tell stories about the Italian community living there. There is one here in Copenhagen, another one in London, then Spain, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland.
So that day I went to the studio they use every Tuesday evening, on the top floor of an old building in Christianshavn, and took some shots of them on the spot.
They are not professional radio speakers and sound mixers, but the passion they put in what they do is admirable. I really have to say it was a nice experience, among fries, beer cans and smokey ashtrays. 
And if you by accident hear any camera click during a podcast, that’s me working!