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Interviews

Dieser Artikel ist leider nicht verfügbar auf Deutsch
December 2010

Italian photographer Flavio Bandiera has built up a reputation as one of the finest exponents of the art of wedding photography in the world. Mark Alexander spoke to him to find out how his style of photography developed and how he contends with all of the pressures of shooting ‘the big day'.

© Flavio Bandiera

Vercelli - The Road. Shot on the EOS 5D Mark II, with the EF24mm f/1.4L II USM lens, the exposure was 1/2000sec at f/1.4, aperture priority, ISO 100.

Most people who see Flavio Bandiera's photographs are quick to comment. Struck by the Italian's stunning visuals, invariably the remarks radiate a mixture of praise and admiration. As a result, the photographer has built up a client list of enamoured patrons that most photographers could only dream of, with the unblemished feedback being one of the reasons he is considered one of the finest weddings photographers around.

The buzz that surrounds Bandiera helped the 40-year-old to the QIP Photographer of the Year title, which is handed out by the professional body for Italian photographers, in 2009. In the same year, he collected the European QEP title from the Federation of European Professional Photographers' Associations. To cap an incredible year his international reputation was then further cemented with an invite to join the prestigious 'Best of Wedding Photography' association in December 2009.

© Flavio Bandiera

Ercolano, Naples province - The Groom. Shot on the EOS 5D Mark II, with the EF50mm f/1.2L USM lens, the exposure was 1/160sec at f/2.2, aperture priority, ISO 800.

As well as being gifted, Flavio Bandiera is also amiably charming and unquestionably patient, which no doubt helps in the cauldron of simmering anxieties and emotional fireworks that is a wedding. Despite all of that, his images are stylised and mature. They follow a strong narrative and are big on impact. In many ways they follow the key elements of traditional advertising-led photography but with an endearing, personal slant that all wedding shots must have.

Bandiera says it's all about refined spontaneity. "I always strive to show something special in a picture, even when it is shot in a very dynamic context," he says. "I look for elegant, immediate, moving, advertising-like images, without directly involving the subject in what I am doing. This is the style I've developed after years of shooting, doing workshops and analysing other photographers' work. All these elements naturally merge into a unique and personal photographic interpretation of the world."

The foundations of this unique perspective were initially laid by his father, Stefano, a ‘jobbing' photographer who introduced his son to photography at a tender age. This exposure to darkroom negatives and chemical bottles ensured the young Flavio Bandiera had a sound grounding in the rudiments of the profession. But his father did more than just expose his son to the intricacies of hand processing. He also instilled an appreciation of photography and form.

"I have to give credit to my father for letting me peek into that small window through which I got a glimpse of a new ecosystem: photography. Because of him, I witnessed this way of living, constantly surrounded by photography," he says fondly. "Actually Stefano Bandiera dealt with photographic genres other than mine - such as still life, landscapes and advertising - which gave me the opportunity to learn the basics of what I would explore later. Indeed, my images still draw on a vision that comes from landscape photography and advertising."

© Flavio Bandiera

Lake Orta, Novara province - Happiness. Shot on the EOS 5D, at the 105mm end of the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom, exposure was 1/500sec at f/4, aperture priority, ISO 200.

Although his father's love of still life would eventually find its way into Bandiera junior's fine art wedding photographs, Flavio Bandiera initially found his father's fondness of the sedate confounding. "In the beginning, it wasn't clear to me what I would photograph, but I knew I would be a photographer," he recalls. "I looked at my father doing still life, buried in his studio with all those objects and didn't understand why that kind of work fascinated him so much. I got the technique, but not the scope or the emotion."

That all changed when Flavio Bandiera got his first wedding commission 20 years ago. He reveals: "During my first wedding photo session, I felt such a rapture with all that dynamism that it was literally love at first sight. Since then, wedding photography has filled my working life."

Surrounded by confetti, flower girls and happy couples, Bandiera's typical ‘day at the office' is full of heightened expectation and hopes for the future. And, like all good wedding photographers, he manages to navigate his way through this hectic schedule recording intensely special moments for the families and friends to cherish. But with emotions running high, how does he manage to keep his focus?

© Flavio Bandiera

Genova - Family reflection. Shot on the EOS-1D Mark III, at the 70mm end of the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM zoom, exposure was 1/80sec at f/5.6, aperture priority, ISO 1000.

"I feel the best way to face the challenges of a wedding day is to clear my mind," he explains. "I try to leave all possible worries and distractions behind me in order to fully open up to what is happening. That is what deserves my complete attention. Each wedding has its own peculiarities and I look at them as an inspiration to be creative; reacting differently to the situations that might come up."

His approach changes, however, in more controlled situations. Bandiera explains: "When I'm doing posed portraits, I carefully focus on the light and subject; the main elements that influence the mood and attitude of the picture. I don't usually check the [LCD] display while shooting - I rather prefer to concentrate on a sequence until I am sure I have achieved what I was looking for in terms of posing and expressions. Determination in pursuing a specific result is generally rewarding."

As well as relying on his tenacity, Flavio Bandiera looks to the latest technology to help him capture his images - he carries between two and four DSLR bodies depending on the job. And while he admits he has a soft spot for the Canon EOS 5D and 5D Mark II, his latest camera of choice is the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV which shoots 10fps at 16.1 megapixels.

"Lately I've been using the EOS-1D Mark IV a lot because it guarantees quick focus and high ISO sensitivity - key features for low-light shots at a wedding ceremony and at receptions," he says, excitedly. "When I'm using wide lenses, I switch to the EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS 5D Mark II bodies in order to exploit the full frame format better."

As far as glass goes, Flavio Bandiera's ‘must-have' lenses are three Canon L-series pro-level zooms - the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, the EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM and the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM. Despite his use of the zoom lenses he admits to preferring fixed focal lengths. "My favourites are the EF24mm f/1.4L II USM and the EF35mm f/1.4L USM - they are perfect at capturing details and light with incredible depths and blurs."

For lighting Bandiera keeps it simple, preferring to use natural sources in about 90% of his shots. "I usually shoot in natural light and rarely add other lighting," he says. "Sometimes I carry a small portable continuous light source that helps me when I need more depth-of-field, for example during the ceremony, or two 580EX II Speedlite flashes that I mainly use outdoors for creative purposes. For portraits, I have a small reflector that helps to balance light and shadows in close-ups. That's all."

With his attention focused on the subject, rather than on peripherals, Flavio Bandiera has created a style of photography that is intensely personal, yet universal in its appeal. His kit, he says, helps him to achieve this balance whatever the circumstances. "Canon plays a fundamental part in my work," he says. "The precision and reliability I require for my gear is guaranteed in all climatic conditions and situations. The RAW files are very neutral and flexible with plenty of latitude to allow great creativity in the editing process. As a result, the final results are extraordinary - that's why I consider Canon an irreplaceable and trustworthy partner."

© Flavio Bandiera

Trieste - Skyline. Shot on the EOS 5D, the exposure was 1/800sec at f/5, aperture priority, ISO 250.

Technical

Flavio Bandiera's equipment:

Cameras:
EOS-1D Mark IV
EOS-1Ds Mark III
EOS 5D Mark II

Lenses:
EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
EF24mm f/1.4L II USM
EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM
EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM
EF35mm f/1.4L USM
EF50mm f/1.2L USM
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Accessories:
2x Speedlite 580EX II
Small reflector

Biografie: Flavio Bandiera

Flavio  Bandiera

Born in 1970, Flavio Bandiera is an award-winning fine art wedding photographer who lives with his wife in Turin, northern Italy. His work has been published in many renowned magazines, including Vogue Sposa, and has attracted acclaim from both the public and industry alike. In December 2009 he was asked to join the elite invitation-only association Best of Wedding Photography, which spotlights the best wedding photographers from around the world.



Schaukasten

Lake Como; Reversal portrait. Shot on the EOS-1D Mark III, at 100mm within the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens’ zoom range, the exposure was 1/1000sec at f/2.8, aperture priority, ISO 2500.