“Maschere” draws inspiration from Italy’s traditional Commedia dell’arte, a popular entertainment through the centuries where exaggerated versions of society’s classes and prominent figures were brought on stage by traveling companies. As it was often done for street theatre, costumes and accessories were used to reveal to the audience as much as possible about the character: not only their profession and status, but also their personality and temperament could be found out with a glance.

With time, clothing evolved to keep up with fashion trends and characters were often rewritten to reflect society’s changes, but the masks covering the face of the players remained always in place, becoming their defining symbol. In the same vein, the subjects of this series were asked to present their lockdown persona through self-designed costumes, symbolic objects and gestures, bringing into focus a facet of their self born during the months spent behind the mask.

The painted Knight

The lockdown easily overpowered me. The home I came to just for sleeping quickly became first a prison and then a hospital ward as thinking about what the uncertain future had in store took a toll on my mental health. This is my quarantine self revealed: dressed in white but surrounded by shadows closing in, with bionic arms and bejeweled masks that offered protection from the outside perils while at the same time limited my movements. I felt locked in a gilded trap that was slowly suffocating me, driving me insane. The only thing that helped me get through was makeup: brushes and palettes became the weapons that helped me fight the lockdown monsters. @LadyB


The lockdown didn’t bring radical changes to my life: being an introvert and working from home, I didn’t feel the need to go outside and connect with people in order to remain sane. However, as days passed they became infused with an unreal sense of calm and stillness, as if time flowed at a different, slower pace. 
I spent hours tending the plants on my balcony, hoping that the work could  ground me to a reality I felt slipping away. Ironically gardening had the opposite effect, transporting me into a fantasy where this idyllic state could go on forever. Getting back to reality has been difficult, but I came out of lockdown with beautiful plants.  @Sara


I love to travel, to be on a stage in a jam packed venue dancing the night away. I never had a chance to tone down my globetrotting lifestyle until quarantine happened… and then I discovered how much I needed that pause.I wanted to take advantage of the free time to create 100s of new props for my shows, but I discovered how home could be a gateway to other types of self expression. During lockdown I baked, I fried and I glazed -but first courses are where I excel! I also spent time with my partner and my dog, something that I never could do much in normal situations, recharging my batteries and getting ready to rise from the ashes like a phoenix, taking the world by storm once again! @Valentina


There is a famous Japanese piece of writing called ‘Winter always turns into spring’. There is always hope, if we remain true to ourselves we can manifest a life brimming with hope, happiness and realization. 
This is what the mask I’m wearing reminds me of: cherry blossoms rising over a storm of chaos. I perceive my work as a vocation and I love every part of it. Having it taken away, not being able to express myself through my work has been incredibly hard. I used the lockdown working on myself, choosing not to let circumstances, fear or other people affect me and the life I worked so hard to create. 
I tried to enjoy having time off, spending it with my beloved husband, encouraging friends and fellow artists not to lose hope, preparing in every way, mentally and physically for when the time was right. I knew that deep down I will be on a stage again, bringing sparkles into people’s lives through my art form, because that’s what I do and who I am. @Miss Jolie


When I realized that the lockdown was going to last quite a while, I wasn’t stressed.  Working from home? I seamlessly transitioned to living in my pajamas 24/7. And what better occasion to keep up my winter diet regime, maybe even to better myself and learn how to cook! Good intentions paved my way each time I tried going to the supermarket, but the never ending queues and the siren call of easy delivery brought my healthy plans to an abrupt halt. I became an expert in timing my orders to arrive exactly at one pm for my lunch break, navigating tough choices like “chicken nuggets or spicy wings?”. I was locked at home, while my food did all the travelling, bringing to my table international cuisines or Italian delicacies, whatever was my whim. My recipe for the lockdown? A finely tuned balance between sad canned tuna pasta and sophisticated restaurants, American fast food desserts paired with milanese double breaded cutlets.  The results are guaranteed. @Zurbi

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Neo-retro hair for Dye Magazine

I love working with creative people and with people who like to push their boundaries. So when a friend pitched to me some colorful hairstyles to incorporate in my shots, I decided to go all in and together we assembled a three-look editorial that ended up being featured on Dye Magazine.

Shot on white background with a beauty dish and then assembled in Photoshop, these were a far cry from my usual darker and dirtier style but it’s always a pleasure to experiment

Hair styling and colouring: Rella’s Eden
Make up: Chiara Brambilla
Models: Lais (blue), Valentina (orange), Alice (pink)

I assembled all the shots in double spread proportions, so click on them to make them bigger! You can find how they were integrated in the magazine layout on Dye Magazine 9.




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Storytelling and exploration


This post is a little peek into my thought process and editing method. Like most other dabblers in some form of art or another, I have developed through the years something that I feel is my personal style and have built a workflow that enables me to attain the results I want without going crazy or broke.

I had the pleasure of shooting again with lovely Tanya and she arrived bringing her boyfriend Seth, a couple of suitcases of stuff and, totally randomly, this bat hat. As she was getting her make up done, I started to test the light: while I normally use the model (i.e. if I need to check on how the clothing/makeup looks under the lights) we took a couple of portraits of Seth wearing the hat just to have a laugh and then moved on to serious business.

Here it is, static pose and “why me” expression typical of boyfriends worldwide.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later, I’m working on a completely different project and after a day spent editing wedding photos I decide to take a break and sort through my personal shoots: the first couple of photos that pop up from Lightroom are the bat hat ones and there was something in there that I didn’t see when we were taking them: maybe the fact that it was 2 am, but my first thought was “here’s a guy who’s having a really bad trip”, followed by “let’s make it even worse”… I just had to decide what was happening to my subject and why.

Setting the scene
Lately, I’ve been trying more and more to incorporate storytelling elements into my photographs and I found that finding an answer to the classic Five W of journalism is the best way to have a clear direction towards the final result. This method is easy to do on your own and it scales well in team projects because once the character and situation is decided, everyone involved has a clearer insight on what to do to obtain that particular result.
Workwise, I always start with Lightroom: in this case, I tweaked the RAW file colour balance to obtain a bluish tint, desaturating the skin in the process, then moved on to Photoshop for the real work.


The outside mirrors the inside
I wanted to show that the young man in the shot had been lost in his personal world for quite a while, detached from reality both in mind and in body, so using a couple of underground cavern shots I assembled a corridor made of jagged edges of a sickly blue and red palette enveloping him like an aura. The hat and gray shirt reminded me the costume worn by Max in the “Where the wild things are” book (and the fact that I have a row of figurines from WtWTA displayed next to my workstation only heightened the idea), so the editing had to make him look more vulnerable and childlike.
The eyes are always the focus of headshot portraits for me, so I am particularly picky on how I edit them. In this case, the eyes/sockets had to match the two colours of the background without being too over the top, so red puffy eyebags and sunken in bluish eyes were a natural choice.


Keeping content-coherent
I briefly toyed with the idea of giving him a badly torn ear: the colours, wavy lines and haunted stare started to remind me of the Van Gogh self portrait. I know I wanted something gorey and disturbing, so I started googling infected wounds and worms. The results were starting to look hideous (in a good way) but I found out that the ear was stealing the show as my eyes were constantly looking towards that portion of the shot, obscuring the face… that to me was a definite no, as the eyes were my focal point, so I scrapped the levels and went back to the whole ear.
The risk is getting lost in unnecessary details just because they look good rather than aid the storytelling: no matter how good it might have turned out, it would have resulted in a weaker portrait.


Never forget your beginnings
Before I close everything up and export it, I usually spend a couple of minutes away from the computer and then once back I cycle through all the levels and groups, looking one last time to see if the choices I made are coherent. That’s when I decided to add a blurriness to the edges of the shot to enhance the “woah, he’s tripping” effect as well as a slight vignette to (guess what?) steer the attention towards the eyes.

A fun not to close this rambling post: the original title I gave the photo was simply “Bad trip”. However, without having told him about my work process, Seth called it “Where the wild things are on a bad trip”… nerd telepathy or just having hit the mark with what I wanted to show? You decide!

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Golden haze

When springtime comes round the corner, I have this little tradition of doing “spontaneous” outdoor portraits… it usually goes like this: days get longer, I start seeing the sun firsthand and not through an office window and I get location wanderlust. These searches always end up with somewhere I just got to shoot but due to the short lifespan of springtime locations, it must be executed in record time. Cue me doing the rounds of social media asking for guinea pigs willing subjects, something I usually don’t like to do as I always dread what is going to pop up from my inbox.

This year was no different, but it sure was easier to organise as I had the perfect spot right on my doorstep: the garden in my apartment complex has three huge Forsythia (always have to Google the spelling on that one!) bushes and they were just about to go in to full bloom… I just needed to find the perfect girl to fill the tangerine yellow wig lying around my house from another shoot and got lucky on day one of my search when Miss Sorry volunteered.

Obligatory plug: Miss Sorry is also a fab photographer, so if you like tongue in cheek photos of lovely ladies with lots of tattoes and not that many clothes, be sure to check her out!





I also took the time to finally test properly the Lens Baby Composer I got for Christmas -yes, I took my sweet time, I know! It’s a nice trick lens if you like the soft focus effect and the mad blurring, but it takes a hell of a time to get used to and to focus properly!


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After working so much on “serious” shoots where both the concept and the mood were solemn and composed, I wanted to have a bit of fun and experiment so I decided to combine two of my loves (hair and old school computer art) into a single project. So starting with a poppy colour palette, add 90ies era kitsch graphics (those have been making quite a big return into mainstream culture lately!) and a sprinkle of glitches to the girl with the softes hair ever and you have the recipe for “Glitch!”.

These got picked up by Dye Magazine and are featured in their latest issue.

Model: Valentina Tafferini
Styling: Videnoire



A little bit of background on how I went about making the graphic/glitchy part of these images. As an 8bit aficionado, I am naturally drawn to all things pixely but I particularly enjoy glitch art as it’s the punk rock of computer art: it’s all about destroying/corroding a pristine file, repurposing it in order to send a different message from what it was intended to originally.
There are plenty of online resources (such as this one) where you can simply enter a file and watch as it gets randomly glitched, but I prefer to make mine from scratch by opening the image code in text edit and effing it up big time… tons of fun in what you can enter (do not simply cut and move bits around, you also enter text or glitch the image several times around!) and the random element of what actally comes out is always a fresh point of inspiration to me.
The resulting images were then used for sampling (along with a series of channel mixes) so that I could pick and choose what I liked -because “random” is such a nice word but it clashes with my obsessive “I want that red pixel cluster to be just THERE!” method of work.



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Creature II – Goddess


The second creature of my triptych was actually the last one I shot chronologically… but I posted “Wraith” at a time when I was experiencing creative setbacks and was both mentally and physically drained, so I find it fitting to showcase “Goddess” when things are slowly beginning to look up again.

I was looking to portray a kind of beauty that was classical in movement and posture but had somewhat of a feral quality: lucky for me, I knew just the girl… I shot lovely Sara in the past and she was the perfect fit!
Another major inspiration for this is the work of Italian painter Saturno Buttò: I’ve always loved his use of dramatic light and rich colour palettes, but I find even more interesting how his paintings have always a time dichotomy, showcasing modern concepts/feelings in a baroque framework.

Model: Sara Briar Rose
Horns & headdress: Resplendor Atelier




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Horns up! Metal pin up shoot

Sometime, I just need to take a break from “serious” projects (well, as serious as they can be with me!) and just have some fun with a friend, a couple of cups of tea and some picture snapping.

This time, lovely Valentina was my partner in crime… I met her first on set for Ricette Rock and we clicked immediately so when I got my hands on some stud-heavy couture from Videnoir I immediately thought of her as the ideal model for a cheeky metal-friendly pin up shoot.

I think that metal girls are as a general rule shot oversexualized, like centerfolds in skin magazines, rather than portrayed in a more personal way. I didn’t want to go down that road so despite having a lot of goods on display (because first of all I wanted to do pin up and secondly, who doesn’t like clevage?) I wanted to showcase more of the bubbly personality of Valentina rather than just her good looks.








Creature I – Wraith


It’s been a difficult, tiring period for me and the escapism that I usually seek elsewhere sneaked into my photography… an initial project of taking “just a couple of beauty shots” morphed along the way into something else entirely. When I finished editing, instead of cleancut glamour what was looking at me from the other side of the screen were three creatures from another time, more myths than women.

I am happy to start the new year with Wraith, the first instalment of the project born through the collaboration with make up artist Archa Make up as well as italian designers Videnoir and Resplendor Atelier.

Model: TanyaBat
Make-up: Archa Make up
Styling: Videnoir





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Natural light

A friend and fellow photographer needed a couple of hands to do hair for a shoot they had planned with some agency models. As I was free that weekend, I was more than happy to spend an afternoon in the old part of my hometown and while I was at it, I took a couple of natural light portraits of lovely Nastya and Gefen during downtimes.

I actually love shooting with natural light, but it’s incredibly difficult to have perfect weather the day of the shoot…. it seems it’s always raining on the weekend, and yet today is monday and there’s a lovely golden light. Murphy’s laws are harsh.






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Tattoos and silk

A little bit of mid-week eyecandy. Despite apparently continuing the Japanese inspired trend that my latest post started, these were shot quite some time before -the last from my daylong session with miss Cleo Viper before her leaving Italy.

Model: Cleo Viper
(with a special cameo of Sir Dante Balzac in the last photo)
Make up: Please Kill Anita





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