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“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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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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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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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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B-movie fun

Tempo fa per un progetto di auto zombificazione egocentrica ho acquistato un paio di lenti a contatto bianche… sin dall’inizio sapevo, taccagna che non sono altro, che avrei cercato di utilizzarle per qualche altro scatto prima che scadessero. Non volevo replicare con un altro zombie, ma senza cerone e sangue finto l’infima fotogenia delle lenti non permetteva di fare granché, a parte spaventare bambini in metropolitana e travestirsi da fan di Marilyn Manson primi anni ’90. Guarda caso, è stato proprio il binomio qualità pessima+vecchiume imbarazzante a portarmi in modalità flashback ai film di Estate Horror di Italia Uno.

Per chi è nato ieri, questa roba abominevole era l’ancora di salvezza nel mare della programmazione estiva italiana negli anni in cui il digitale e internet erano praticamente inesistenti e requisire il televisorino da campeggio dei miei per fracassarmi i neuroni con roba tipo “Morte a 33 giri” rappresentava il clou delle vacanze.
Un pomeriggio ricco di bestemmie contro insetti (veri e di plastica), grandine improvvisa e giri in tondo per le campagne bergamasche ed ecco la mia personale versione del film scaccione delle vacanze… un mashup di film più o meno riconoscibili, l’equivalente di addormentarsi con la televisione ancora accesa nel mezzo di una maratona di b-movies. 🙂

Model: Anna
Assistant & unwilling corpse: Francesco Tosi

Una nota finale sugli occhi… dato che già erano da ritoccare (iride non pienamente coperta + differenza di colore tra lente e occhio) ho preferito cancellare completamente la pupilla per dare alla mia serial killer posseduta un’aria più spiritata alla Rob Zombie. Per chi volesse ottenere un effetto del genere, comprare un paio di lenti da poco prezzo e poi postprodurre (Il trucco penso stia tutto nel mantenere il più possibile le catchlights della pupilla e la curvatura) è un buon compromesso: si perde un po’ di tempo per rimettere in sesto l’occhio ma fa risparmiare 400 e passa dollari rispetto a un paio di lenti a contatto a sclera completa. 😉


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Black on black

Questo torrido weekend è stato passato nell’unboxing del mio nuovo gioiellino… dopo anni di servizio, il mio vecchio Mac non riusciva più a starmi dietro. Per il momento sono ancora entrambi sulla scrivania, più che altro perchè ho scoperto il lusso di usarne uno per vedere un film mentre lavoro sul secondo, ma temo che uno dei due emigrerà verso altri lidi perchè la mia scrivania non è più una scrivania ma uno scaffale da esposizione e Steve Jobs non mi paga un cent per lo spazio.

In other news, questi sono gli scatti di bodypaint “puliti” fatti prima di cospargere la pazientissima Ilaria di olio e acqua. Entrambi scattati con il beautydish e una seconda luce su un fondo di ecopelle nera che sta diventando il mio preferito in questo periodo.

Avevo in mente da qualche tempo di fare una specie di richiamo al burka, più che altro per enfatizzare lo sguardo del soggetto.

Originariamente per il bodypaint completo l’idea era di avere una sorta di manichino umano, ma avendo visto da poco Xmen First Class, avevo ancora mutanti e supereroi in mente… 😉

Ah, ultima cosa! Ho aggiunto alla lista di social network perditempo anche Google+, per cui mi trovate qui.

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Domenica rosso sangue

A parte aver sacrificato buona parte del mio weekend al lavoro lavoro, sono riuscita (tendenzialmente fregandomene del tempo visto come estensione lineare) a ritagliare qualche ora per poter fare qualcosa con Miss Von Sin. Merita applausi sperticati dato che eroicamente ha sopportato la sottoscritta in modalità provvisoria presentandosi la mattina presto… per giunta trascinandosi dietro uno sgabello da favola (+corvo impagliato da compagnia).

Ricreare un quadro specifico non mi è mai interessato granchè… sono molto più interessata alla citazione, al twist inaspettato (ad esempio quello moderno-lowcost di Hendrik Kerstens sulla ritrattistica fiamminga), o al tributo: scattare qualcosa che possa essere riconoscibile come un omaggio per chi conosce l’artista. Una Tarantinata insomma! 😀

In questo caso, ci siamo ispirate a Ray Ceasar, soprattutto per le atmosfere surreal-barocche e per la quasi monocromia del rosso…. ah, e per le unghiette -ovviamente il meglio sarebbe stato avere tentacoli, ma c’è un limite a quanto è possibile fare di domenica mattina.

Nell’angolino in basso a destra, si vedono anche alcune delle enciclopedie che ho recuperato giorni fa al costo di un giretto in taxi grazie al gruppo Freecycle Milano…. si possono trovare props interessanti dappertutto!

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