In the fast-paced world of fashion photography, capturing the perfect shot requires a delicate balance between artistry, technology, and innovation. Fashion photographer Alessandro Furchino Capria has managed to master this balance through his unique approach and creative use of lighting. In an interview with ARRI, he shares his experience and insights into his photographic journey and speaks of his affinity for ARRI lighting tools.
How would you describe your style of photography, and what drew you to classical portraiture as a source of inspiration?
My main focus is to be connected with the people I photograph. What they like to do, what they like in general. I also always do a lot of research on the technology I use because it is part of my existence, in a way. I always try to connect the dots; I like having pieces on set that the models and I really care about. It could be an old school digital camera, a laptop, or even an ARRI SkyPanel, which I was able to use for a job for Wallpaper* magazine, a top publication that focuses on design, architecture, art, lifestyle, and of course, fashion.
How did you come up with the idea to use a SkyPanel in this shoot?
It was a spontaneous idea. I try to avoid creating pictures that look like you’ve planned them for ages. It can always be a last-minute idea. That's because my photography is based on the simplicity of the straight message. It’s what I’m always looking for.
At first, I wanted to use the SkyPanel as a table, like a still life, where you put a vase with flowers on top. Everything evolved from this picture in my mind. Then we turned the idea towards the model and started to use the SkyPanel as luggage and a stand or table. I'm happy because the picture with the luggage turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of the whole shoot. We also took another picture with the model standing on the fixture with the light source coming from beneath because it looked interesting. With the SkyPanel, you can handle everything easily, edit the power, and it's not that warm; even the model can touch it.
Was it a challenge for the model to use lighting equipment as part of the photo?
I’m lucky enough to work with people who understand my ideas. They said: “Oh, it could be a good idea. Let's see what happens.” The SkyPanel is quite lightweight and they could easily handle it. Especially the S60. And in the end, the pictures looked great, and they were super happy.
This was probably the first time you used ARRI lighting as props on set.
Yes, I think it was the first time we used the SkyPanel as a prop. The internet is full of pictures with photographers or artists who use ARRI equipment. You can always feel when there is an ARRI system behind the scenes. But we wanted to touch the technology, to have the subject interacting with the object. Before I switched to photography, I started to study industrial design, and this is part of the design process, interacting, in a good way, with the object. It is not about the object being the main thing it was designed for but about how you can reimagine it.
How come you prefer continuous lighting in your photography instead of flash lighting?
I generally try to stay connected with natural light. But we need to stay focused for different shoots on the same day, and we need to have a sort of consistent light. I also really like to have a simple set. I prefer one cue with at least three spots because I can change the frame easily and quickly. The SkyPanel system is very helpful because you can easily move it around without waiting. It doesn’t get as hot as the ARRI M-Series, and you can manage the color of the light. For example, I like to have a touch of the blue in the shadows. It also helps a lot when we mix natural and artificial light. If I have the right natural light source and I can support it with a SkyPanel—it's the perfect balance.
How often do you work with ARRI products in general? Was ARRI your go-to brand for photography from the beginning?
In a way, yes. If we talk about continuous lighting, ARRI was always my first choice. When SkyPanel came out and became affordable to rent for a photo shoot, I started to use it frequently because it’s an easy system to handle.
Did you face any challenges using the ARRI equipment for this shoot?
ARRI products are very reliable and very well-made; I actually only had problems with your competitor’s products. I have a very simple approach to photography; very different from a film set. I'm definitely happy that the latest ARRI lights are lighter than the previous generation. And I love the aluminum grey. SkyPanels are also a good mix between analog and digital.
How do you see the future of lighting in photography?
When we talk about AI, for example, it feels like a new wave in photography. And then there is video, which is quietly taking over photography as we know it. If we think about the next wave of artists, they will probably start with videography, take screenshots, and export still frames from videos. It's already happening. Even the video technology we use every day, if you think about Instagram or other social networks, it feels like people are more connected through video compared to photo stills. Or newspapers that produce their online magazines with more and more short videos instead of still frames. To me, everything is going in the direction of moving instead of still images.
Do you see flash lighting moving forward in the future or is continuous lighting going to be used for video snippets that are created?
The industry is trying to offer professionals a good flash source along with a sort of continuous light as well, for example for videos. In the future, continuous light will be the main light source in my opinion. Nobody wants light flashes in the video frame. So, it could be a natural evolution of the necessities. A bit like how the LED system has changed the shape of the industry.
Do you have any advice for young and aspiring photographers who are just starting out with fashion photography?
At the beginning and throughout one’s career in general, photographers should definitely do their personal research into the lighting and the technology available. Professionals should also focus on the message they want to send with their work.
So, you would recommend that photographers research the lights they use on set?
Lighting should definitely be part of their personal research. But overall, it is about aesthetics for me. Your output should be a well-balanced picture made by the message, the light, and the technology you use.
What would you say is the message you are transferring with your photos for Wallpaper?
I tried to include the way we live into the photos, the way we cope with our existence in a way. Even if it's just a fashion shoot, I always try to keep my images connected with reality, with society, culture. It's a fancy mirror and, of course, polished because it's a fashion shoot. But I try to include different elements that stay rooted in everyday life.
What were your original plans for the shoot? The SkyPanels must have been on set purely for lighting purposes behind the scenes.
Yes, the SkyPanels were meant for lighting. But then we had a lot of natural light, so we only used one to balance out the shadows. Then we thought, okay, let's try to use the other one somehow. In a way, the SkyPanel is a sculpture to me. If you look at the C-stand for example, it could be a sculpture since it is a product that was designed by someone who put thought into the way it looks. Everything can be considered a sculpture.
ARRI has shaped lighting for cinematography. So, the fixtures should be at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Without these giant reflectors, we would never have cinema as we know it. But it's something that only the people in the industry talk about. My mother doesn't know anything about ARRI. She just goes to the cinema and watches the movie, and that's it. But to me, ARRI tools are pieces of art. Also, the cameras you produce: sculptures.