The main thrust of the shoot was his project called Open White. Involving the use of high-key lighting and infinite white background, the images would all be in black and white but with soft textures. Antonio's inspiration evolved from a film called "Open Water" in which two submarines were abandoned in the middle of a sea. Just as the subs themselves were lost in the blue, the models were to be lost in the white. He imaginatively described the project as: "the body is present, visible but there is only a feeling; the most important is the look and the face of the model. An elegant, intimate portrait." The Open White theme was to be primarily nude but involving one item with which we could use as a prop. Taking a look at some of his samples, I couldn't wait to pursue this! We agreed to shoot on 2 December 2011.
Prior to the shoot, Antonio briefed me on the preparation. I was instructed to bring a favorite item with which we could use as prop as well as some black lingerie. I chose a long string of pearls which would blend perfectly with the soft mood. As we were doing a high-key lit B&W shoot, I was advised to wear light make-up, more precisely sky-blue or crystal-violet eyeshadow and magenta lipstick. No reds or yellows, I was told, as this would make it difficult to adjust the color tones of the images without affecting the skin tone during the editing process. Even as a trained make-up artist, I never knew this. Wow, you do learn a new thing everyday!
Antonio picked me up from Wembley Park tube station in London. Despite his professional experience, he was a very unassuming, hospitable and a warm-hearted gentleman and I immediately felt at ease. We chatted about Italy as I shared some of my travelling experience there. We walked to his hotel, whilst shopping by Tesco's on the way to pick up some snacks. Once we arrived there, we had some bite to eat whilst preparing the set. We used the two single beds which we pushed together to make a big one, all covered with white sheets and scattered with huge white pillows. Then Antonio initiated an "introductory" warm-up shoot to help me loosen up as well as for him to get an idea of of my natural expressions and from which angle to best capture me.
I admired the way in which Antonio was direct and precise in his directions. It shows he knows what he wants out of the images and his determination to create the best quality. Whilst shooting we also experimented on me posing from various angles from the light and different distances from the camera. Antonio, in the middle of a set, also downloaded the images on his laptop from which we would assess what sort of images worked and how we could improve on them. Plus I get to see how well the results turn out! I also had a lot of fun observing how he cropped the images and manipulated the lighting on photoshop which didn't need much doing anyhow. Most importantly, he emphasized on blurring out the "explicit bits" to create a subtly erotic mood with facial expressions being the main focus.
We worked on various nude images with single props being used to add some accent. The feeling of being "lost" in the white and clutching onto the one item we treasure. First was the pearl necklace. Then I had a pair of stilettos which I used to take on and off, as if I were "undressing" in the nude. I also had a black faux-fur scarf which I cuddled in. We even worked with my mobile phone (along with the bling-bling Hello Kitty cover) with which I had to pretend to be taking photos of myself whilst pulling my panties to one side and teasingly exposing myself little.
It was very ingenious of Antonio to suggest doing the lingerie sets at the end of the shoots. Most of the time, it is the other way around as we feel the need to build comfort and rapport covered up initially before stripping off. However the disadvantage is that tighter clothing, especially bras or fishnet hosiery, leave pressed marks onto the skin, taking hours to fade.
We called it a day after 3 productive hours. Although the shoot was so intense which left me exhausted, it was worth every minute. We hit it off really well and, in fact, I must've made quite an impression on him as he text me the following day and asked me if I wanted to shoot with him on Sunday too! It was of course an offer I couldn't refuse so I went along. As I was already accustomed to Antonio already, I felt more relaxed for this second shoot. This time, I brought a pretty Japanese folding fan. Although he asked me to bring a corset, I didn't have one with me in London, so I brought along a pair of stockings with suspenders.
On both occasions, I thoroughly enjoyed working with Antonio. From what he had shown me, I am very pleased with the results. He has given me a couple of edited images right after the shoot, and I look forward to receiving more. I hope to be working with him again when he is visiting London next. Thanks so much, Antonio, for your time and for creating some beautiful images!
For more of Antonio's work, have a look at his website!