Aldo is an “old school” photographer with more than 25 years of experience. Besides shooting for clients, he also organizes photography workshops and manages his photo studio in Milan. We recently met him and asked him some questions on his career, his rental studio and the changes he has seen in the industry over the years.
Can you tell us a bit more about your career as a photographer? How did you start for example?
“I started in the early ’90s as a photographer for art catalogs. I used to work for Christie’s. My specific field was ancient and modern paintings; that was my only job. Then, after a while, I started diversifying my business.”
Why did you change?
“With the coming of digital photography, clients started taking their own pictures and get rid of the professionals. So I really had to change my business model. Now I also organize photography workshops focused on beauty, portrait, human figure and creative style. I assist clients as well because, thanks to the experience I gained in so many years, I can help other photographers, especially if they are beginners. I help them realizing their projects or specific lighting effects that they would not be able to set up alone. Managing the light, as we know, is very important and sometimes very complicated. You need to know how to define the subject’s face and then “interpret” it. It is a very delicate job that focuses on details, a bit like cooking. You can compare it to the difference between eating fast food and eating nouvelle cousine: the starting ingredients could be the same, but the end result is very different.”
What piece of work are you most proud of, and why?
“It is a piece of architectural photography that I shot at the castle of Sirmione (Lake Garda). I used only the view camera because it was a very technical work that made it possible to re-design the whole castle’s area and to renovate it.”
Let’s talk about your photo studio Milan.
“The range of the clients of my photo studio Milan is very wide: it can be rented by professionals and by beginners, to whom I give help or direction. But also major agencies rent it regularly to shoot fashion works or, in general, productions for major brands.
The photo studio is about 60 m² wide and 3 meters high. It is fully equipped with lights, backgrounds, softboxes, polyboards, et cetera.”
Interested in contacting Aldo? You can quickly send him a message regarding his photo studio in Milan or for any other request.
If you had to give one advice to a starting photographer, what would it be?
“Have a great desire to experiment, to move from simple sets to more complicated ones. I truly believe that daring to experiment is the key to success.
Related to the more practical aspects of studio photography, I would advice to use the flash with the appropriate accessories. Too often I see people taking photographs with flash with accessories while they have no clue how to use them properly. For example, using a softbox, a honeycomb grid or a strip has a really different effect on the lighting of the subject. That’s why it is important to study various lighting patterns and techniques as a starting photographer.
The second mistake that beginners often make, is that they take shots a bit “just as it is”. That’s why I would suggest starting photographers also to study photography composition rules well.”
Any photography trick that you are willing to share with us?
“If a flash breaks and you need a secondary flash, you can easily use a reflector. For a portrait shooting for example, it is a perfectly fine alternative.”
Since we are in Milan now: what is your impression of the photography scene here?
“Certain moments it is hard to run a photo studio Milan. My impression is that the market became much smaller. Because of that, there is a rivalry going on between professionals that should not be there; there has never been such a thing before. Many clients try to force professional photographers to lower their prices because another photographer has lowered them as well. But if you want to save money, you get lower quality pictures.
The same is going on in the fashion industry. There are pictures in which you see the photographer is very skilled. Other photos are taken with a “very casual” style… Or, to come up with another example: once the Italian Cultural Heritage Office wanted quality pictures, made in an “artful” way. Now their standards are, let’s say, a little “enlarged”.
To solve the situation, not only in Milan but in general, it would require both a stronger photographic culture and a aesthetic culture. Likewise, customers would need to respect our professionalism, work and passion that we put into photography all these years.”
Speaking of contemporary photography culture: are you on Instagram?
“I do have a profile, but with only one picture on it! I don’t have the time to dedicate to Instagram. It is a truly remarkable platform for pictures, from simple images to more complex photos. Honestly, I have also seen some very nice works on Instagram. And then the filters are fun to play with. But, many times, Instagram remains a game.”
What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you as a photographer?
“You won’t believe it, but for a job that I worked on for days, the customer was so happy that in the end he told me: “I think it’s underpaid.” And he paid me twice as much as what we agreed upon on forehand! This particular case happened about 20 years ago though. Now customers often even do their product photography themselves; they place their product on a table and take a “still life”. Also the sector of industrial catalogs decreased a lot.
As a photographer you need to know how to adapt. You know how water keeps on moving even if you block one way, because it always seeks for a way to get out? That is how we need to keep on moving. Because if you become rigid and are not able anymore to adapt, it is the end for your career.”
Thank you Aldo, for telling us a bit about your experience and sharing some tips and tricks with us.
“Thank you guys. I always enjoy sharing experiences with other photographers and showing people around in my photo studio Milan!”