Category Archives: PERSONAL

Silent devotion

After a week of being buried in kleenexes and aspirines thanks to a bout of the flu, here I am with another update. I have several sets to publish and I am so hideously behind schedule, oh my!

I love shibari photos that take it up a notch and aren’t just snapshots of people tied up like quarts of meat: there’s a poetry and beauty to the act that sadly is lost in many of the shoots I see, so when I had a chance to work with talented rope master Andrea and with my friend and muse of many years Ilaria I was determined to do the medium justice.

My first thought was to use the ropes as metaphor of the ties binding a woman to her loved one in a difficult relationship, but I also wanted to use either flowers or plants to soften the scene and give it visual depth. Ajisai (hydrangeas) have a special meaning in Japanese culture: their everchanging colour represents an unquiet spirit and to me was a perfect counterpart to the shibari.

Photographer: Anna Lucylle Taschini
Model: Ilaria Sea of Sin
Makeup: Sabrina Alberio
Shibari & vintage kimono: Andrea Ropes

More from this set can be found on ArtAbout Magazine.

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A little background story about the flowers and the lenghts you sometimes have to go in order to create the vision you have in mind. I live in Milan, so there’s a distinct shortage of green spaces. However, I am lucky to live in a residential area where most of the condos have gardens with flowering plants, including my coveted hydrangeas.

Of course, while technically not illegal, being seen picking flowers is a big social no-no, so this meant that the day of the shoot I woke up at 4:45 am, armed myself with a pair of heavy duty scissors and an Ikea bag and slinked away through the neighbourhood on a mission to get as much flowers I could without defacing the bushes by overpicking: this meant getting 3-4 flowers max from each and then moving on to the next. After two hours and several trips around the block without a problem (other than when I decided that the plants in the middle of a busy roundabout where the perfect shape to complement the hydrangeas so I had to jump in plain sight for a while and got honked to death by each passing car) I had enough material to fill the set -or at least, the bathtub while I waited for everyone to show up!

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Filed under PERSONAL, PHOTOGRAPHY

Updates and a couple of questions for you!

Today marks the end of my summer holidays so I thought it would be fitting to give a little facelift to my online presence -getting ready for the fall season so to speak. As far as the blog goes, I am quite happy with my WordPress arrangement so the only novelty here is the updated signature logo on the header.

I revamped the logo a couple of months ago, making it more similar in style to my actual handwriting (though still keeping it different from my proper signature, I really don’t think that 100% accurate signature logos should exist online!), so here it is in all its curlicued glory.

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The rest of the novelties here are more content-driven and here’s where the question to you reader come out: right now, I am posting only completed photography shoots that I think are portfolio worthy: the downside is that updates are rather slow to come by.
Starting from september, I am implementing a weekly posting schedule with the goal to post twice a week by the end of the year, so I would like to have some feedback on the type of non properly photographic updates.

What would you like to see me writing about?

A) Do it yourself/backstage posts (such as the making of costumes and props, but also more personal ones detailing what goes on in my mind during the process).
B) More technical aspects such as shooting and editing
(kind of like this post about shooting non caucasian people)
C) Lifestyle/object related post that deal with my materialistic cravings (such as this post about CMYK designer goodies) or with particular exhibitions/events I attended (like this Mi Art fair post)

Let me know what you think! :-)

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Filed under DESIGN, PERSONAL

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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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Filed under BOOKS & NAILS, PERSONAL

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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Filed under PERSONAL, PHOTOGRAPHY

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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Filed under NERDINESS, PERSONAL, RANDOMNESS

Friday’s links, plus a couple of pics

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These two aren’t enough to prompt a whole post dedicated to them as I already shoot the outfit to death, butI couldn’t resist sneaking them in!

Model: Cleo Viper
Make up: Claudia Malavasi
Outfit: Christina Riminucci

Today’s link list is rather boring, if you don’t like reading articles online. I, on the other hand, have recently discovered the guilty pleasure of reading stuff on my cellphone while on the bus, so here’s my three picks of the week!

History of Emoticons and Emoji from Rhizome.
This very well written article is a must for every designer dealing with icons and pictograms.

Get into an isolation tank and out of your head from Ultraculture.
Having recently experienced a sensory deprivation pod (and having quite liked it!) I’m readying myself for take two -possibly in some big, comfy american version.

A short lesson in perspective by Lindsey Redding.
You get used to reading rants about the advertising word, how it’s a shallow and utterly soulless place ecc ecc. You nod your head, maybe sigh a bit if you’re reading it at 11pm during a computer break, then move on completely unchanged by the words. This article isn’t one of those and it’s even more sobering once you realise that the author died shortly after writing it.

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Filed under DESIGN, PERSONAL, PHOTOGRAPHY, RANDOMNESS

Hexen

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to spend a busy afternoon with lovely Xarah, who was visiting Italy for the Milan Burlesque Awards -where she managed to snag a trophy for “best performer” too!

Despite having only a small amount of time for the shooting, we managed two outfit changes, both revolving on Xarah’s beautiful leather mask. I also got the chance to use some of my black acrylic nails, which I fashioned into talons… I’m in love with how they turned out and if they weren’t so horribly impractical I would sport these myself everyday, just to scare little children! On a nail-related note, I see more and more elaborate nail art being featured in magazines and media as part of the styling, but it’s only abroad right now… when is this going to finally get over here?

Between work and the fact that I spent the past week buried in bed with the most horrid flu I had in years, I didn’t have the chance nor the inclination to start working… I was still grumpily lamenting my clogged-up state while reading for the nth time Dance Macabre (King’s excellent analisys of the horror genre through media and ages) when I came across this little gem that got me firing up the computer for the first time in a whole week.

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That little tidbit from a Kenneth Patchen poem is the reason a more “standard” postproduction ended up in the dark forest ;-)

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Filed under PERSONAL, PHOTOGRAPHY, PHOTOSHOP