On May 2018, together with my ‘life and work partner’ (my wife Claudia), and some of the best wedding vendors in Italy, I produced a wedding photo shoot. For those of you who don’t know what the heck that is, it’s basically a ‘fake wedding’ in which vendors put together all the nice things they would like weddings to have and the photographers take their time to properly photograph them. People in the industry do wedding photoshoots for two main reasons: for editorial publications in magazines or major wedding blogs, and portfolio production, both things all vendors crave to be involved in, be they wedding planners, floral designers, venue owners, stylists, etc.
Claudia and I have participated in several of these shoots and have always been in the production process with the wedding planners. Every time, the most difficult and important step is about deciding the ‘story’. It’s not only a ‘mood’, it’s not only a ‘style’, but it’s the one thing that guides the whole process and helps when choosing the other vendors and the models, and in the end it holds everything else together and makes the result look ‘real’.
For this shoot, the only thing we knew at start was the location: the Italian region of Apulia. Located in the south of Italy (the ‘heel of the boot’, if you know the shape of my country), Apulia is not only incredibly beautiful and rich in history, food and wine, but it has recently seen a huge growth in its wedding business, especially with destination weddings. Since the area is not that close to our studio, we don’t get many inquiries about Apulian weddings so we decided that that was the area we wanted to be published about and include in our portfolio. So, the ‘story’ had to be about Apulia.
Aside from its recent placement in the wedding business, Apulia has always been a very active region in the business of summer holidays. Tons of Italians and foreigners enormously enjoy their summers there and, thanks to its little towns and secret beaches filled with romanticism, passion, and enchanting colours, flavours, and tastes, Apulia is a favourite destination for romantic holidays.
In our experience as wedding photographers, most destination weddings in Italy involve couples who fell in love, if not had their proposal, in Italy. This is why, together with the wedding planner, Chiara Sciuto, we thought to create a wedding that was an authentic, intense, Mediterranean love story with the romantic Apulian Masseria of ‘that’ magical summer vacation, the fruits that hung from ‘those’ trees under which so many kisses and forevers were given and promised, the flavours and colours that stayed so vividly in ‘those’ memories, and the love letters that were inevitably written afterwards. With this ‘story’ in mind, we put up a top notch team: the Masseria Montenapoleone, one of the most elegant and authentic luxury hotels in Apulia, the marvellous floral settings of Sartoria Floreale, the dress of Laure de Sagazan, the cake and the nameplates hand-painted by the cake designer Annikka Toni.
For the shoot, I opted for three primes on three bodies so thast I could quickly swap from one focal length to another without having to change lenses. It may have looked cumbersome, but the small size and the lightweight of Fujifilm system eased it up. If I had to have worked with three DSLR bodies mounted with three equally fast primes (50mmF2, 85mmF1.2 and 135mmF2), I wouldn’t have been so happy by the end of the day!
I mounted the XF35mmF2 on the X-T1, the XF90mmF2 on the X-T10 and the XF56mmF1.2 on the X-T20. All three cameras were set the same way, shooting in RAW, with automatic white balance and automatic ISO (200-6400). My cameras are all set to shoot at least at 1/125th, so the only thing remaining for me to do is to set the aperture to control the DOF (depth of field) and then to set the exposure compensation to control the overall light. It’s a fantastic way of working, something that only mirrorless cameras allow for.
In the Masseria I used the 35mm mainly for details and architecture, favouring the 56mm and the 90mm for portraits. The 56mm is a top notch (and my favourite) lens, able to render gorgeous shots and to create magical separation between the subjects and the background. Compared with the 56mm, the 90mm is not that magic and, basically, acts just a longer focal length. However, I found the 90mm to allow for much better close-ups than the 56mm, so I ended up using it quite a lot.
At sunset, we went for a stroll on the beach and I worked mostly with the 35mm. The dunes didn’t give me the distances that the Masseria allowed for, so I was somehow forced to work closer to the models and the 35mm came in handy. Staying on the dunes while the couple walked along the shore allowed me to capture some nice shots from above and, again, the 35mm gave me the perspective I was looking for. I used the 56mm and the 90mm as well, but in the end I like the shots with the 35mm better.
All three primes performed wonderfully, as all three bodies worked flawlessly and produced great RAW files. And, at the end of the day, I wasn’t that tired for having been working with three bodies at all. Truth be told, I worked with a fourth body too, a medium format film camera. It was actually really interesting to see how the Fujifilm files compared with the old, beloved, medium format films…but that will be the topic of my next article, so stay tuned for more!