“Copia dal Virus” – Lockdown Self-Portraits From Italy

· 29.June.2020

I’m a lover of portrait photography and I always thought self-portrait was the best way to practice in this context. It is a discipline which requires patience and a bit of free time and which enables you to play both the key roles needed in photography: the subject and the author, implying a big capacity for empathy because of putting the photographer on the other side of the lens, leading him out of his comfort zone.

Original featured photograph above: Riccardo Torri.

I’m always trying to push myself beyond in photography. In this project I have overcome some of my limits, such as dressing up like a woman or creating a dress with paper sheets. On the technical side I could only rely on the few things available: a backdrop stick and some different fabrics belonging to my wife.

Original photo by: Dayana Montesano

I’m in the early stages and I’m used to discuss my work with other photographers I cherish. In this quiet moment when everybody was forced to stop, I had the chance to connect with them.

I live in Italy, specifically in Milan, chief town of Lombardy, one of the most affected area during the Covid-19 crisis. In the first weeks of March the italian governement announced the beginning of lockdown where everybody had to stay at home for weeks having a lot of free time. Here I thought I had to take on new challenges approaching self-portrait. I didn’t mean to do something as an end in itself, my intention was to give evidence to a scenario that could have concerned whoever was involved in the same alienating experience. So I decided to get in touch with some of other photographers to propose them my pitch to recreate one of their pictures using the few things available at home. I purposely added a dose of irony to defuse the dramatic situation the entire world was living in that days. The title of the project is “Copia dal Virus” because in italian “Live Copy” is translated into “Copia dal Vivo”; mine is a word game, in which I replaced “Vivo” with “Virus”.

Original photo by Elena Maggiulli

I’ve been using Fujifilm for the few recent years. Like so many of us, I fell in love with all the virtues of this apparatus: portability, feeling, price and aesthetics, without neglecting the excellent quality of the files. I have a faithful X-T1, from which I don’t ever remove the XF27mm f/2.8 that I always carry with me when I travel, and an X-T2 which I use for my fashion and portrait shootings. It is precisely this one I used for my project, paired with the XF35mm f/1.4 and the XF56mm f/1.2. To recreate the same light of the photos I was working on I made use of a Godox TT685 driven by the trigger Godox 1XT; in some of the shots in which I had to use a secondary light source I had to resort the Godox TT350. Staying at home I had to use an umbrella and a softbox striplight like diffusers.

Original photo by Giovanni Gastel

Living in a not so big flat, the only room I could use to simulate a photography studio was the living room, so I set up the backdrops on a white wall just two metres wide. One of the problems of taking some pictures in a place like that using the flash light, is to control the direction of the light. To solve this problem I used some boxes as shielding.

Original photo by Giulia Mantovani

Choosing the right photography to recreate was also one of the key issues of this project. It has to have some peculiarities which I could re-image in an alternative way. This is not to be taken for granted: as I chose the right picture I had to contact the author explaining what I wanted to do with his shot.

Original photo by Michele Maglio

Fortunately each of them welcomed the idea with enthusiasm, giving me their consent to use my creativity on their work.

I think this project has been very helpful to keep us as near as possible even in a situation where human connection was strictly forbidden, as well as for me to test my abilities. In recent days I’m working on the creation of a book featuring the photographs I took for the project with some captions describing topics that are strictly related to the quarantine period.

Original photo by Chiara Glionna

Original photo by Riccardo La Valle

Original photo by Riccardo Lancia

Original photo by Tatiana Minelli

Damiano Agnes

Damiano Agnes

I started photography as a child, with my father's old Praktica. I have always loved photographing people, both in posing portraits and in sets built ad hoc to convey a message. My photography wants to go beyond perceived reality, because I believe that the singularity of each individual represents an added value for the society in which we live.

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