Have you ever wanted to shoot in an incredible location with vendors you’ve only ever dreamed of working with? All you need is a couple who’s getting married at the right time in the right place…right? Maybe not. Italian wedding photographer Margherita Calati recently produced a styled shoot to help get her creative juices flowing and to serve as inspiration for showing brides and grooms how she would tell their wedding story. Here, she tells us how she pulled it together.
Rangefinder: You refer to this as an “elopement,” but these are models and everything has been recreated to convey the feeling of a real wedding.
Margherita Cali: Yes, I organized this project with other wedding professionals because we wanted to describe how a simple and raw setting could be the perfect background for a love story, especially when when you are in an incredible land like the Apulia region of Italy. For this particular shoot, we thought about an elopement and having a very intimate reception, with a table for the bride, groom and just a few guests. The couple we used, Roberta and Gianvito, are actually just friends who are both from Ostuni, the incredible “white village” of Apulia. From the start, I wanted subjects who exuded Mediterranean charm!
Rf: What were the challenges of the day and how did you overcome them?
MC: I shot this in early April, and the weather was very cold! It was a windy day and Roberta, our “bride,” was freezing in her summer dress. The light was also a big problem, because I wanted to make the portrait session in the light of sunset, but we didn’t have a lot of time—I also wanted to take some pictures of the table setting in the same light—so I ran around a lot to make everything in time!
Rf: Since this wasn’t a real wedding shoot, you had free rein to do what you wanted. What was your ultimate goal here?
MC: With this shoot, my team and I wanted to talk about Apulia and its traditions, like handmade pottery and the love for good food. Apulia is not only a place of clear sea water and amazing beaches; we wanted to also depict the magic atmosphere of such a timeless countryside, tiny white villages and olive tree groves, to create a cozy and intimate love story. We chose a typical Apulian venue, in the heart of Valle d’Itria, in the small village of Ceglie Messapica. Fikus is the venue, an ancient “trullo” (typical Apulia construction) surrounded by two hectares’ olive groves. The entire shoot was set in Fikus’s outdoor spaces under the trullo shade on the terrace, among the olive trees. Every single detail of the setting came from the territory, like the essences chosen by the flower designer Olivia Brusca for the table and bouquet, as well as olive branches, fresh garlic, poppies, wild flowers and tomatoes bunches, all for a strong organic result.
Rf: What gear did you use for the shoot?
MC: I used my two Nikon D800s, my beloved NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8 lens, and a NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8 for some portraits. And natural light, of course!
Styled Shoot Tips, from Margherita Calati:
1. Plan out your project carefully in advance, choosing all the vendors you want to be involved, just to be sure that everyone has the correct time to prepare his or her products and services. If you are thinking about incorporating something very unique, it’s nice for everyone participating to be able to have enough time to create something that fits perfectly with your idea.
2. Be ready to invest in a healthy budget. Yes, a good styled shoot takes a lot of money, and you can’t skimp on it if you aim for a great result. Consider splitting the costs with your team if you are planning the project together with other professionals.
3. Work with professional models, because they will likely be more familiar and comfortable with poses than two “normal” people (if they are not a real couple!).
4. Try to do something new but make it fit your style! You are doing this, after all, to say to your future clients: “This is what I like the most, this is what I wish to do with you, what I’m able to create if you choose me for your story.” The project must speak your language, and this can’t be planned by only thinking about trends of the moment or the style of a particular blog.
5. Have fun during the shoot! That is the most important thing.