Font face – Zapfino

I have been working on my second installment of anthropomorphic fonts for what seems to be ages. Finally, I was able to find the time to pull a weekender and finish writing, editing and assembling everything! So without further ado, here’s what I think Zapfino looks like, if it was a human!

The model I chose for this is lovely Roberta Pazzesque, who also assembled the outfit. What can I say… got to love a jack of all trades!

As per usual, click on the images to see them full size! :-)








It’s probably a little late to be celebrating the new year, but I am quite happy to start 2014 with this set. It’s the first one shot at my new place and it’s the first one I shot using my new background setup… so far, it seems to be working!

Lovely Glow Swanson wanted portraits that weren’t “standard burlesque” fare and showcased her elegant style; I was more than happy to oblige.

First situation: wearing that flower headpiece and veil, the first impression I had was of an intimate dance.



Next, we drew inspiration from icons and sacred imagery to create a modern day madonna. Fun fact: you will never guess what was the original use of the black tulle halo she is rocking! ;-)






Female chauvinist pigs

It’s been a while since I did a Book & Nail post: the constant diy that a new home brings forth has reduced my nails to stubs and frankly, I’ve been neglecting the poor things too long! It’s also ironic that I’m giving in to “girly girl” urges immediately after finishing this particular book, but hey… that’s life.

This time I’m going for Ghetto barbie nails
Fake glue-ons with minimal square cut, hand drawn and with a matte topcoat.

Also, a minor disclaimer: the sort-of-feminist musings that follow should be taken just like that… I’m not denouncing anything or pointing fingers here: as a matter of fact, I am probably planted firmly in the chauvinist pig category myself.


I picked up Female Chauvinist Pigs during my last trip to the USA in a small bookstore that was basically the living room of a private house, with floors bent by the weight of books stacked everywhere. Used bookstores in holiday spots are strange places and they often surprise me with what people choose to read on their vacation. This particular store was indeed a gem… the memories of an englishmen in Florence during the times of the “Mostro di Firenze” case? Rare occult books? One on insects in criminology? Best of all, not a single Dan Brown or Sophie Kinsella book in sight… who knew that a two-road-town could attract readers like these?

Going back to Ariel Levy’s book, I picked it up from the shelf just to have a good laugh at the cover: unassuming clipart design coupled with Impact title and a 100% magenta background? What was the designer thinking? It looks more like a mockup than a final draft.


Amused by the title and the blurb on the back, I decided to pinch my snobby designer nose and buy it. A winning idea, as it turned out that the standardized bimbo clipart and blaring “meme” font were particularly well chosen to fit the content, an intriguing analisys of how raunch culture and porno-isation are getting more and more popular with women of the western world, flattening alternative avenues of expression. I won’t review it in depth but this Guardian article sums it up quite nicely.


Female Chauvinist Pigs deals mainly with the current situation in the USA, but considering that mass culture and the internet have made Italy little more than a dumping ground for trends, I believe that it applies very well to our situation…. in example, you can see Sex & the City mentality in the spending habits and in the proliferation of fashionista blogs that are little more than cries for attention.


The cult of pornstars-as-mainstream-stars is taking hold here as well: I heard more women than men fawning about Sasha Grey’s visit in Italy and I strongly doubt that all of these were fans of her career. Rather, it’s just another facet of a trend that sees women capitalizing on raunchiness in order to be placed on the same plane as their male counterparts: “I like tits & ass just like you, therefore I am cool and interesting, I am one of the guys”.


It’s interesting to note that, the more women are acting like men, the more they mimick and idolise an extreme form of female sexuality that is mainly man-driven… and while Levy focuses or porn stars and strippers, in Italy we have only to look at the current events to see the bunga bunga girls in action -in a minor way, one could also make a case for the proliferation of the met-art / nude model scene too.
In my work in advertising and in photography, I have been very lucky with my collaborations and have generally met incredible girls, but there have been times when I came in contact with people of that ilk and I am reminded of how certain subcultures (especially when social media is concerned) thrive on raunch and are used by women as a way to feel empowered and exercise an amount of superiority that wouldn’t be possible if the sexual element was removed from the equation… and that, in my opinion, is something that makes it hard to be taken seriously in any other way.

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I had a nail post brewing for a while but considering the rainy day I opted for this set instead…

Up in the Bergamo mountains, near Zambla, there’s a living building: trees arranged in elaborate casing form the base of what in a few decades might be a cathedral; right now it’s more like a skeleton than a finished place, but the appeal to use it as a background for a photoshoot was immediate.
However, I’ve been planning my little expedition to the Tree Cathedral for almost a year with little results… people close to me will finally be able to breathe again when I mention it, as I have been relentlessly trying to recruit willing minions without much success: the remoteness of the place, coupled with hideous weather conditions everytime a trip there sounded almost feasible made it look more distant than Narnia.
It took a surprise visit from my friend Christina to make it finally happen: on an extremely bleak sunday we started towards the mountains, hoping to break the cloudline and find better weather. Fat chance… breathtaking as the view was, it was firmly encased in a huge cloud formation, meaning we were drenched in mist from the second we left the car. I had to encase my camera in layers of plastic bags and wipe the lens every couple of shots just to have a clear image! Despite that, we managed to do our thing, and this is the result!

Model: Christina
Hair & makeup: Arianna Arcelli
Assistant: Yann




Speaking of bad conditions, something has to be said about finding the right people to work with and I hope these backstage photos do justice to the work of all the ones involved: a lot of girls wouldn’t have considered freezing in two feet of slippery mud and managed to look so relaxed and ethereal while doing it.


A lot of make up artists wouldn’t have pulled off that makeup, done from the carseat with almost 0°C temperature, without grumbling.


And it takes a good friend to spend his day off to basically fluff dresses and act as a human umbrella.


So to all of them, a big thanks!


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Some time ago I had the pleasure of working with two brilliant tango dancers that go by the stage name of Alice y Andrea. As much as I like shooting movement and always try to incorporate it when I can, I have never done anything with dancers: during both my research and the shooting, I discovered tango has a very technical aspect, so this meant having to consider proper hand/leg positioning on top of framing the perfect shot and conveying a good amount of emotion.
We had a whole afternoon to spend, so of course I tried to cram in as much wardrobe/concept changes possible, starting with a simple atmospheric shot in a classic tango pose.


We then progressed to more elaborate setups, involving multiple shots.


Alice and Andrea also brought with them a very long piece of cloth, as we were thinking to incorporate it in some dance poses… after a couple of tries, I thought it looked so much as a bed sheet that I decided to enphatise the illusion by using an implied nude. Tango is a very sensual dance and this is probably my favourite shot of the day, concept-wise.


The final set got rid of the classical Tango stereotypes with an old-timey styling and some portraits.



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Back on the saddle!

Getting back into blogging after a break partially due to several vacations, a broken cellphone and most of all the mother of all moves… now that I’ve stopped being surrounded by boxes and I am finally down to the last stages (putting drapes and shelves is downright light compared to all the heavy lifting stuff I had to endure all August!) I can finally focus on something other than the Ikea catalogue.

Before getting into full speed I got to start slow, so here are a couple of commissioned shots that were actually taken in July, but were edited in the new house -when I finally had the time to unbox the computers! A couple of simple promotional portraits of the two lovely Femmes Fatales sisters, in their Sweet Candy burlesque outfits.





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Friday’s links – movie edition

This time I’m going to swerve a bit from my usual linking habit and talk about the latest indie/bmovies that caught my eyes.
A little background: I spend a lot of my evening time editing photos, but once the main look of a set is decided, the rest is grunt work… cleaning up skin, fixing hair, adjusting the styling and so on. I have a very low attention span and prefer to multitask, so in order to get any work done without going crazy I watch stuff on the side. This has the unfortunate byproduct of constantly having to find crappy tv series and low-brow movies that won’t distract me from the main task, but will still keep me reasonably entertained. Here are the latest of the bunch, enjoy!

The ghastly love of Jhonny X

There’s been a recent trend, one I’m digging thoroughly, of making movies that have the look and feel of old classics. The H.P. Lovecraft Society has produced a couple of excellent ones and now this little gem popped up: rather than taking its cues from Hammer like the Lovecraft ones, Jhonny X is a cross between camp sci-fi and the greaser rock n’ roll exploitation movies of the fifties and sixties. Extremely good photography that uses the black & white medium to the most, nice styling, catchy songs… I hate Grease with a vengeance and am generally wary of musicals, but ended up liking this one a lot, so if you’re caught up in the vintage/retro craze or are a Cramps fan, take a look at this: it’s well worth the time.

John dies at the end

Another John -but a totally different movie. This one deals with a semi-sentient drug, the ongoing bromance between two loser friends and the end of the world as we know it. It could probably have used a bit more budget for its creature effect, but the fact that it’s filled with meta references, mental mindfucks and a healthy dose of sarcasm makes it stand out from the mass of trite “we are the chosen ones, gotta save the world” movies that are always popping out.

Hansel & Gretel get baked

As you might have surmised by the previous movies, my ideal form of comedy is stoner humour. Give me a Cheech & Chong or a Kevin Smith flick and I’ll laugh from scene one to the closing credits, without even have to resort to additional help of the herbal variety. Unfortunately, these movies are a hit or miss thing: Bong of the dead is a perfect example of how a great idea (probably born between tokes) can be badly executed and turn into a mediocre movie. That said, I just had to check this one up to see if it stood a chance despite being produced by the spawn of hell that gave us Twilight. Don’t confuse it with the other Hansel & Gretel movie knocking around, the one with Jeremy Renner: I think the totality of cast and crew was stoned out of their mind the whole time when producing that turd.

A little bit zombie

The zombie comedy is an established subgenre nowadays, but there’s always something new popping up. Milan is plagued by mosquitoes for the better part of the year…people get bitten even in winter (they keep coming back like Terminators on wings!) but in the summertime shit gets real fast and people close to water start sporting a red polka dot skin. This little comedy about what would happen if a mosquito drank zombie blood and went to bother regular people afterwards is the perfect thing to watch while you’re spraying yourself with Vape for the nth time.

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