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.

Inspirational toilets

"Don't think you have arrived, when your journey has only just begun"
(common expression in Italy)

I’ve met too many photographers that consider themselves “arrived”, as they don’t need to improve their skills. There’s so much more in visual arts than the few rules of composition we read about in photography books. And you don’t need lamps and a studio to take cool photos.
Inspiration is everywhere.
The picture below was taken at Arken Museum, near Copenhagen. But that’s not a cool corner of the building or an interesting piece of art: that’s the toilet. Me and my (weird) friend were just in line, when we saw the light wall and started being silly.
I love the outcome.

The magic number

"Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and daemons"
Cit. Pythagoras.

I started studying art when I was very young.
I couldn’t even read, but I would spend a lot of time looking at images and making drawings out of them. One thing was very clear to me, since then: 3 is a crucial number in composition.
Years later, when I could read, I found out that 3 is an important number in every field of knowledge: it’s recurring in music, in history, in mythology, in psychology, in philosophy. 
It’s the first number that forms a geometrical figure, the triangle.
It’s the number of time (part, present and future; or beginning, middle and end). 
It’s a sacred number in many religions.
In visual arts, 2 elements can be together or opposite, but 3 elements give to the image a sense of balance and structure: 3 elements are pleasing to the eye, cause they bring harmony.
So next time you take a photo with 3 elements in the composition, be aware of the sense of balance and stability you’re giving to that photograph.

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.

Making decisions

Yesterday I met a couple getting married next year, to talk about their wedding photos. It was our first meeting, so we talked a bit of what we do and what we like, and I explained them why I love shooting weddings: because it’s very challenging. 
During a wedding you have no control over the location, the weather, the light, the rain, the mood, the development of the event. You can’t decide where and when to take photos: if it’s outdoor and in bright sun, you’ll just have to adjust to that. You can’t waste time deciding what to do, or you’ll miss the moment, and the “moment” is the very core of wedding photography. 
It’s a matter of making decisions as fast as possible.
This picture I’m showing you was taken in very poor light conditions: there was no direct light on the couple and - stupid me - I didn’t have the time to go get my flash and put it on my camera. It was so dark that my camera had issues with the focus. Luckily for me, my camera can deal pretty well with high ISO, so the only option was: high ISO, combined with the largest aperture possible. 
There.

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 ;)

What if it rains?

In Italy, especially in the south, if you plan your wedding between May and September you have almost no chances of rain. But now I live in Denmark and it rains A LOT in the nordic countries.
It took me a while to get used to shoot under the rain, but as a wedding photographer you have to work with what you get. When I finally stopped complaining about the rain, I noticed the endless possibilities that the “bad” weather gives you: the light is simply amazing, the rain makes all the colors pop, photos with umbrellas are nice and cute, people are more spontaneous and they tend to completely forget about the photographer. Besides, imagine the awesome story you will tell about how you nailed a big storm on your wedding day.
Like they say: wet bride, lucky bride.

bryllup-fotograf-københavn.jpg

Come home soon, love

“I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest” Helene Hanff

In photography like in every other field there’s always something new to learn, and if you want to be a skilled photographer you’ll have to study and read and keep yourself updated.
I read lots of magazines and books about photography or about art in general.
I buy books in secondhand stores, not just because it’s cheaper and good for the environment, but also because I love to find signs of other human beings: reading pages someone else has turned, finding notes in the margins and flyleaves forgotten inside the book, reading passages someone else has underlined.
So the other day I was walking in Copenhagen and found a bookstall. Saw a book called “Criticizing photographs”, by Terry Barrett, and brought it home, left it on a shelf and forgot about it. This morning, I saw it and started turning its pages when I found this lovely note: “Come home soon, love”

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.

Fairy tales

“In the land that created fairy tales, we just started our own” 
Cit. Rufus Gifford

We all know it: Denmark was the first country in the world to allow gay couples to formalise their unions, in 1989. Today, most of the battles have been won here, and LGBT couples can have equal rights. They even have the blessing of the Danish Church.
I was born in a small catholic town in south of Italy, and after 4 years in Copenhagen it still feels amazing to have this freedom and acceptance. Working as a wedding photographer in Scandinavia I have seen that people look at gay weddings for what they really are: celebrating couples committed to one another. That’s it.
I must say, never in my life in Italy I would have imagined to experience this sense of inclusion, and also to be the one documenting it with my camera.
It really feels amazing to be part of it.

I've become a foodie

“Don’t marry someone who doesn’t love food, they won’t understand the pleasures of life”
Cit. my grandma

I love good food.
Let me say that again: I love good food.
I really believe that a great meal is an absolute pleasure, as much as sex.
That’s why restaurant photography and food related events are a big part of my portfolio.
Going to restaurants as a photographer, I noticed that I was getting to know new people, and that I had the chance to taste new things and new flavours, from all over the world. Quite easy in a cosmopolitan city like Copenhagen.
But food is not just about food. 
We often forget that the food culture is such a big part of our daily life: without food we can’t survive, and we’ve managed to make it a true pleasure. Not only that: food involves traditions, habits, values; it can be a symbol of social status and religious belief, and it can tell a lot about a community.
It’s so interesting that I’m getting hungry again.

Oh, by the way, I had the best ramen soup ever last weekend, you can check it out here.

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.

Your stories

When thinking about wedding photography, people usually believe that it’s always the same routine, the same things, the same poses, the same photos.
Truth is, you’ll never get bored at weddings. There’s always something going on and every time you get to meet new people. Moments of joy and happiness are so natural that you don’t need to create the event, things are happening on their own. And everybody is part of the story: there’s so much more than the bride and the groom, and as a photographer you see everything, whereas the guests have eyes only for the newlyweds.
The emotions you get to photograph are not fake, people are truly happy and their smiles sincere.
And it’s a pleasure to take these photos.

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!

Ritual

The tradition of the wedding cake comes from ancient Rome, where guests used to break a loaf of bread over the bride’s head for fertility’s sake.

I am not really a cake person, I’d rather have a sandwich. 
Every time I shoot a wedding though, I eat a slice of the wedding cake: its flavour has been chosen among many, its design meticulously selected, and the pastry chef carefully picked. 
It’s not just a cake, it’s a wedding cake. It's a ritual itself. It’s a piece of art. 
Therefore it is a very important detail of the whole wedding day, as much as the bride’s dress. 
So next time you see a wedding cake, think of how much thought and work were put into it.
And then, only then, taste it.