The King’s Tailor, A Year Later. A Minimalist Set With Fuji For Fashion Photography

· 23.March.2017

I have the privilege to work with one of the most stylish Italian haute couture brand based in Rome: Battistoni. In the oldies Battistoni made the suits and shirts for the King of Italy and, after Italians voted for the Republic and exiled the King, made the suits and shirts for all the movie stars and directors, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Marlon Brando, Andy Warhol, Claudia Schiffer, Walter Matthau, Kirk Douglas, Sidney Poitier, George Segal, and Anthony Quinn. The fame of the brand grew larger, so much that now you can find its stores also in London (Queen Street), and Los Angeles (Beverly Hills).

One year ago I worked with Battistoni on a lookbook all centered around the original Roman store, an ancient place filled with art and history, and part of that shooting, mostly based on the mix of natural light and complex flash schemes, was posted here on FujiLove. This year, however, they asked me to create something minimalist, rough, black and white, and completely focused on the suits.

I decided to go for a minimal approach, with one camera (my beloved X-T10), one lens (the fantastic 56mm f1.2), one flash (the super-portable Godox AD360), one diffuser (the big Walimex Pro easy octagon 90cm), and one seamless white background. We shot for a whole day in my studio, filled for the occasion with tons of superb quality suits, jackets, shoes, and bags I most probably won’t ever be able to afford!

To get the “rough” feeling, I placed the main (and only) light on the subject’s left side, slightly above. Almost completely lateral. Such a light, on a white background, creates a pattern of light and shades that gives birth to a rich “grey” background. Plus, all the possible textures of the background are exposed, adding to the richness and roughness of the background. The other effect of an almost-lateral light is to intensify, I would say glorify, the quality of fabrics and designs in haute couture. Minimalist, checked, rough, checked, focused on suite, checked.

After starting my favorite playlist on Spotify (mostly the band Chat Noir, plus contemporary jazz, post-rock, and other indy-alternative-psychedelic stuff) I was ready to move on to the shooting. The make-up artist and hair-stylist went working on the model, the stylist went choosing the suits and accessories, while I discussed the last details with the product specialists. It is important to say all that has to be said before to start shooting, because when the “set is on” I want to hear only my playlist or the sound of my voice talking with the model. Any other voice would only, in the best case scenario, interrupt the mood, in the worst confuse the model and force me to stop and do the prep talking again.

From time to time I threw some props in the scene, keeping the rough and minimalist style, like my first Canon AE1, the Grado headphones, a Marshal amplifier, an Ikea stool. All black, slightly shiny, made of metal, leather or wood, and rich in textures. Props help in a lot of different ways: they give the model something to interact with, helping him to be more spontaneous; they add another layer of interpretation to the photo, suggesting a bond between them and the suits; they add a graphical-texture element in the framing that help “weighting” the scene.

To show you the image quality you can get with such a minimal approach, in this article you’ll find the phots after only the basic postproduction in Lightroom. No Photoshop, no brushes, no gradients, no local adjustment, only global ones. This way you can see how the light works on each part of the frame, how it hits the subject, the background, and how the mood is affected.

First of all, I didn’t apply a bw profile in the Camera Calibration, but opted for my Fuji favorite Camera CLASSIC CHROME. This is because I like best to work on my bw using the excellent Lightroom tools, which you can find by selecting “Treatment: Black&White” just at the very top of the “Basic” panel. I then increased quite a bit the Red and Orange channels, and just a little the Yellow and Magenta ones, in order to lighten up the model’s skin, while slightly reducing all the other channels. Then I reduced the contrasts and highlights (-30, -60), while opening up the shadows (65) and increasing whites and blacks (56, 8). I pushed up the clarity a bit too (18) which, together with a bit of added grain, enhanced the “roughness” of the photos. I then added a bit of vignetting and the usual amount of definition, and that was all.

At Battistoni they are currently working on the lookbook, you could be able to find them printed in the shops in the next weeks or so, should you have a chance to visit their store in Rome, Los Angeles, or London. They just sent me the latest version in pdf and I think it looks amazing. When you’ll eventually flip through the pages, remember it was all shot with the little X-T10 and the fantastic 56mm, together with only one light, only one diffuser, and only one background. As simple as it gets.


Model: Gonzalo Cabo Pietro

Stylist: William Ruffino

Make-up and Hairstyle: Davide Travaglini

Battistoni Team: Claudia Sigala, Chiara Olivi, Mina Quinto


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