"Okay, we’re coming!” Matteo hung up the phone and turned to us, “We can meet Renzo right now, he says conditions are perfect.” Quickly, we grabbed our cameras and lights and piled into Matteo’s 4WD to meet Renzo Mancini at Naracu Nieddu, a beach on the northern end of Sardinia. Renzo is an ex-pro kitesurfer and one of the two creators behind the Italian fashion label EXKITE. We had never met him before, we had never been to the beach that we were heading to, and we hadn’t planned any concepts for the shoot. But, we had our cameras, and our Profoto A1s, and we were excited to create something incredible with whatever elements were waiting for us.
We had been in Sardinia less than 24 hours, and this was exactly the kind of shoot we were here for.
My name is Jeremy Mason McGraw, and I’m the CEO and Creative Director of Global Image Creation. We are a team of travel photographers, hotel photographers, and marketing consultants. We tour the globe capturing images of incredible luxury hotels, world-class restaurants, and stunning destinations.
Recently, we traveled to Olbia, Sardinia to spend 10 days visiting our longtime friends, Matteo and Rita, for a workcation.
It had been about 10 years since I was last working in Sardinia, which is when I first met Matteo and Rita, so it seemed only fitting to set ourselves the challenge of creating 10 unique shoots over the 10 days, using 10 Profoto A1s as our only lighting gear.
The goal of our challenge was to explore the light shaping capabilities of the Profoto A1, and to have fun rediscovering Sardinia. Matteo and Rita are the owners of All Me Connection, a marketing and events company based in Sardinia. We’re pretty sure they know everything about this island, and every person who lives here, and they have the passion and determination to make amazing things happen at very short notice. They were the perfect people to team up with for this adventure.
Shaping light to tell a story
On the second day of our challenge, we traveled to the Tomb of the Giants, which is a giant burial chamber that dates back to 2000 BC. The tomb is one of Sardinia’s most famous archeological sites.
Light is the most important component of my work. I use light not just to illuminate or draw attention to what I can see, but also convey what I can feel; to tell a story that people can connect with. The Profoto A1 is the perfect tool for working this way.
For this shoot, we wanted to use light to tell a story that connected the history of this place to its present. We placed several Profoto A1s in and around the tomb to echo a moonlit night and the campfires that may have burned here centuries ago. Using the built-in LED modelling, we were able to see how the light would work in each picture as we prepared for the shot, and quickly make minor adjustments using the Air remote to shape the perfect light.
The world is our studio
During our time in Sardinia, we had the opportunity to work with Nuova Zavalon, a local family-owned wedding boutique owned by the Sanna family, and prominent hair stylist Antonio Iannello of Extroverso. I proposed that we stage a wedding disaster for the shoot. My concept was that a well-meaning brother-of-the-bride had taken the bride and her bridesmaid on a “shortcut” to the wedding, only have the car break down in an area with no phone reception. The bride’s response, naturally, would be to hit her brother with a shoe. When I described the concept to the client, she laughed and said “it’s so Italian!”.
The location for the shoot was a marsh that was completely desolate looking, but also accessible by car. The ground was very soft and muddy – not a great location to be wearing beautiful, expensive gowns – so we lay a sheet of plastic on the ground for the models to get into wardrobe and pose on. I set up four A1s for the shoot and shot at high speed to minimize the effects of natural light and create a studio look.
This style of shoot is one of my favorite things to do. In my opinion, there are few things better than grabbing my camera, a few lights, and some passionate people and heading out on an adventure to capture some incredible photos. Because the A1 is so light, mobile, and quick to set up, these kinds of adventures are more fun than ever.
Ready for any adventure
Sardinia is known for many things, such as its food, culture, stunning landscapes, and year-round mild climate. And, of course, for Costa Smeralda – a luxury playground for the rich and famous. However, this incredible island also offers some wonderful hidden surprises.
During this challenge, Matteo mentioned that he had just taken up motocross, and asked if we knew that Sardinia is emerging as a world-class destination for the sport. In fact, he said casually, he even knew a local pro endurance rider, if we wanted to organise a shoot. I don’t think we could have agreed faster.
The next day, we found ourselves on Monte Pinu, one of the highest peaks on the mountain, photographing motocross pro Antonio Scanu, and owner of Insolita Sardegna as he navigated skillfully through scrub and rock faces.
Our challenge for this shoot was to work quickly in the midday sun. The A1’s mobility and power meant that this was a fun, creative, and engaging shoot.
The power of the A1
Global Image Creation began 15 years ago as an agency dedicated to capturing incredible images of hotel rooms, and hotel room photography is still at the core of our business today. The way we use light in our hotel photography is one of the main reasons our clients hire us.
The goal of our hotel photography work is to truly capture the feeling of being in the room we’re photographing. To capture the warmth, the romance, the design, and the feeling of luxury. We do this by creating the perfect light.
On a hotel photography shoot we normally use a mix of Profoto A1s and B1s to craft the perfect light. While we were in Sardinia, however, we decided to challenge ourselves to shoot the Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites new pool suite room, rooftop pool, and White Restaurant terrace at twilight using only the 10 A1s we had with us.
It was exciting and creatively challenging to create something using fewer tools than we were used to, and the A1 absolutely blew us away with its performance. We were incredibly pleased to discover that we were able to capture beautiful, powerful images, that didn’t compromise on quality at all.
Meeting the challenge
A lot of the things that drive me to capture images are the same things that drive me to travel. Both pursuits push me to experience new things, to test my limits, to act spontaneously, and to see the world differently. My inspiration for starting Global Image Creation was to bring these two passions together – to create work that allowed me to travel, and to let travel feed and inspire my work. With the Profoto A1, this has never been easier.
Every one of the 10 shoots over our 10 days in Sardinia gave us the opportunity to learn more about the capabilities of the A1, and we loved every moment. The A1 shone as we captured the work of Chef Max Villaniae at the Restaurant L’essenza Bistrot; the original wine cellar at the Siddura Winery now used to keep art masterpieces; a portrait of famous local artist Lucia Balzano; and a self-portrait on a quiet side street one evening.
The adaptability and mobility of the A1 meant that our multi-location shoot to capture promotional images for S'Iscuru, a Halloween event created by All Me Connection, was incredibly creative and entertaining. I could also easily bring all the lights I need to capture the enjoyment as we celebrated the end of the project with an Italian style dinner prepared by Rita’s father, Gian Mario Careddu, in the galley of his small fishing boat.
The whole challenge was an incredible experience. I’m definitely not waiting 10 years for my next project with our talented friends, Matteo and Rita.
Take a look at our video to watch the whole A1 challenge, and head over to our blog to read more about our incredible experience in Sardinia.
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