The never-told story of a wedding photographer…
How a photojournalist saved himself from the lion’s jaws in the savannah, inventing a new way of photographing newlyweds
From the Stefano Lunardi’s photo studio
Hello and welcome! My name is Stefano Lunardi and in this page I want to tell you where my passion was born that has transformed me over the years into a wedding photographer.
But before this, I want to tell you the reason that pushed me to get closer to photography and how this form of art has become increasingly important in my life.
The images have always fascinated me, since I was a child. The ability to capture a moment that has the power to excite people has always attracted and conquered me.
Art has always been important for my family. My mother was a painter and sculptor and from an early age has spurred my creativity.
However, I felt a need to use a more modern medium to transmit my emotions with respect to the brushes and clay that my mother used in her study. I preferred to live the light of open spaces, together with my first camera. A Russian Zenit… a true heirloom.
I was already 17 and I realized that taking pictures had become more than a game: every day (after school first, university later) I could not wait to go home to launch myself into searching for a new subject to shoot!
The first subjects of my photos were the girlfriend 🙂 and bugs!
What do insects have to do with girlfriends?
Indeed, that could sound rather disturbing!
In my mind, photographing insects meant mounting special lenses on the camera that could make that microscopic world clearer and more defined. I have always considered this kind of fascinating (macro) photography in its hidden reality, because it portrays a world that remains hidden to most human eyes.
You must have patience and curiosity to explore the magical world that lies beneath your feet.
If I think about it for a while, I can still feel the excitement of when I was going to collect my slides (I only ever used slides) developed and transformed from simple cellulose into transparent images to look backlight!
It was on one of those afternoons that I decided what I would do when I grow up:
Capture moments that could last forever.
But first I had to overcome some “barriers”.
In spite of what you might think, taking the path of the professional photographer was a tough choice. Because my parents, despite knowing and appreciating art in general, have tried in every way to dissuade me from following this career.
They wanted me in an office, with a permanent job.
They did not do it out of malice, it was parenthood that forced them to protect their child and, my parents in particular, did not want me to endure all the difficulties that an artist’s life involves.
Now I am a father too, I can understand them. They just wanted the best for me.
In my twenties I became a freelance photographer.
At that point, however, I clashed with the hard reality of life: I was not the only one who wanted to be a photographer!
Hundreds, even thousands, of photographers every day filled the seats of Italian and international magazines with the hope that one of their shots might hit an editor.
Animated by the dream of being able to be chosen for my ability and for my shots, I decided to hit the road with the little money I had saved. I wanted to take pictures in the most unthinkable places, so as to distinguish myself from many others and impress the big shots of some magazines.
Every week I went back to Milan and went knocking on EVERY door of EVERY magazine. At the beginning they did not even receive me: I was new and nobody knew me.
Years passed, but slowly I realized that my photographs had improved and editors started to see my work with interest, then they started to assign me shootings around the world with the goal of capturing realities and stories far from us, from our daily life.
I was on cloud nine.
The photographer’s work then was totally different to today. Today technology allows us to make hundreds of photos (even with our mobile phone) before choosing the one we like, while once it was exactly the opposite.
I was traveling with 30/40 film rolls in my bag. Every time I shot, I was sure of what I was doing, but as a photographer there’s always an imperceptible shiver running down my spine.
In fact, the unexpected is the order of the day: the exposure meter adjusted badly, an error in the development in the laboratory or even X-rays at the airport security checkpoints could destroy my shots.
In my work you are never given a second chance. Every moment is unique.
You must be silent, discreet and have perfect timing.
Imagine yourself in the most desolate African savannah with the scope of immortalizing the roar of a lion and having only a few shots available. Moreover, you must make an effort to be non-intrusive and flashy.
The lion would notice it.
You must be invisible and capture EXACTLY THE MOMENT in which the lion opens his mouth to roar.
This is exactly the approach I use when, during weddings, I want to capture moments of joy and spontaneity in people’s faces.
But let’s deal with the first things first.
Before becoming a wedding photographer I had to overcome a serious crisis.
Just when the magazines began to appreciate my shots and my name began to be recognized, a great change hit the publishing industry: the advent of digital.
With the digital age and with the possibility of finding endless information on the internet, the magazines faced a serious crisis and as a result the photographers started having some difficulties. No more memorable photos were needed, but rather a lot of lower quality to be included in the various internet sites.
Photos that could do – more or less – everything.
Digital photography has destroyed the industry’s access thresholds for new aspiring photographers. So many people have improvised photographers by increasing the competition in an already overcrowded sector.
The photojournalist was the job of my dreams, but I had to abandon it in order to survive. I had to find another area where I could use my technique and my experience.
I decided to change my vision of photography and concentrate on the advertising sector, which at the time guaranteed good revenue.
However, money was never my first thought and I did not like the new environment I had chosen. I was forced to worry about the models, the locations and an incredible amount of other aspects that require a lot of energy and desire to work.
I went through a very special moment from a personal point of view. I missed the traveling and the people to be immortalized, people that could convey an emotion and give value to my work.
As often happens in times of difficulty like this, it is precisely the people who are closest to us who help us the most. In fact, my wife has always supported me and helped me with every means until I could find an inner balance to face this new chapter of my life.
I had become a good advertising photographer, job satisfaction was not lacking, but inside me I felt that the choice was not for me.
Carlo Carletti opened my eyes.
Carlo is one of the greatest exponents in Italy (and in the world) of wedding photography, but for me he was a mentor and the person who convinced me to change my life.
He told me about what defines his mission: “Transmitting emotions by telling the story of the feeling between two people”.
I was struck.
It was exactly what I needed after spending months taking pictures of inexpressive models for glossy magazines. The subjects I photographed were completely lifeless, deprived of their true essence after immense post-production work.
I needed real people who could convey an emotion, to me first. I needed stories to tell in order to escape from a world without a soul.
Full of enthusiasm, I decided to open my photography studio for portraits. I felt reborn. Starting talking to people full of ideas like you who have just decided to (or are just about to) get married, have finally made me return to my element.
I realized that my abstinence was not about traveling or immortalizing realities far from here, but rather about being able to transmit emotions and have the opportunity to tell a story with simple still images.
This was what I missed most from my old job as a photojournalist.
By becoming a wedding photographer, I had the pleasure of discovering hundreds of different stories. Stories like yours… which are also mine.
I know, maybe you’re still wondering…
“Why are you telling me all this? I just want a photographer for my wedding!”
But the answer is simple!
As I have already told you, in my career as a photojournalist I have always been forced to look for photos that could somehow impress other people. I worked in a world where there were no SD cards to fill with millions of photos and I had little chance to take a memorable photo.
I had to develop a mental form that could help me to grasp the best moment to take a picture and that would suit the most demanding editorial editors of international magazines.
I always look for the right moment to catch a unique photo, which can reflect and capture the essence of the moment. A spontaneous and shining photo to reflect the light of the feeling that binds you.
Many photographers conceive marriage as an event and set their work on capturing the memorability of the party. In this way they put themselves at the center of the day, desperately trying to be the protagonists, manipulating the guests and stealing the scene even from the couple themselves.
I am NOT one of them. I photograph people and I’m certainly not the protagonist of the day, but you and your sweetheart.
Do you remember when I told you about the reporter taking the photo of the lion.
Well, I use the same method even during a wedding. I will, of course, be at your complete disposal, but I will try to interfere as little as possible with your special day by immortalizing the moments of sincere spontaneity that will blossom between you and the guests.
Of course, I’m no longer that photographer who is crouched in the bushes in the savannah waiting for the roar of the lion. I also converted to digital and I have pockets full of SD-flash cards to fill.
But what remains is the mental form of wanting to capture the exact moment in which an emotion manifests itself.
The party itself is an object, a situation, a group of undefined people. However, in my vision, instead, marriage must be the container of your feelings that are then reflected in the guests themselves.
How beautiful would it be, within a marriage, if a photographer were able to interpret your feelings by immortalizing them (creatively) forever?
This is exactly my goal.
I like to think of marriage as a starry sky: beautiful and perfectly organized, with all the stars in their place that shines. Then, once in a while, two people hug each other, kiss each other, smile or meet each other; these moments are the shooting stars that illuminate the firmament, unique and unrepeatable spectacles.
I will wander among you, silent and discreet to be able to capture these stars and make them timeless….
But now I must make a confession.
Once I was the photographer who poses people for group photos or who immortalizes the couple in the sheaves of wheat…
Then I discovered that this was not the only way, and I realized that:
The bride and groom do not exist.
How can it be that the newlyweds do not exist?! What are you saying?
Wait! Before writing me off as crazy, let me explain.
With the word “marrying” we often mean an abstract thing, incapable of containing any kind of emotion. Emotion that comes when we talk about two people who decide to be together for the rest of their lives.
And this is why for me “marrying couples” do not exist; for me there is only “Marco and Stefania”, “Giulia and Riccardo” and “Lorenzo and Marta”. As I have already told you, I PHOTOGRAPH THE PEOPLE, with their uniqueness, with their looks and their feelings.
In order to do this, I must know you. I have to understand what people you are and what special needs you have. My experience has taught me to always be as transparent as possible: I am at your disposal, I want YOUR day to be as perfect as possible.
If you remember, as first I told you, how I decided to follow my dream of becoming a photographer despite the strong pressure from my parents who wanted me behind a desk. Or how I had to fight, first, with thousands of colleagues ready to make me shoes at the first opportunity and, later, with myself imprisoned in a world that no longer belonged to me.
Now I feel fulfilled. I’m doing what I’ve always dreamed of, I’ve found my own balance. I have not lost my passion for travel, always looking for new stories.
My path has allowed me to find the right size of weddings. Here I can summarize everything I have learnt from my job as a reporter and advertising photographer.
- The reportagegave me the opportunity to travel, meet new people and develop the mental form that always requires me to look for the “memorable” shot capable to catch emotions; and to do it without anyone even noticing my presence.
- Advertising allowed me to gain further expertise (as well as earn for everyday life) after the new digital era, and i learned to control artificial and natural light.
Over the years I have met hundreds of couples. Enthusiasmed guys for making a choice that will change their lives forever.
When a wedding is planned in time by professionals and you think of all the details together with your spouse-to-be, the result is guaranteed: a unique and unforgettable event that everyone will remember forever.
And all this photography plays a fundamental role.
If you also want a UNIQUE photo shoot and not yet another photocopy of many other anonymous and standard weddings, then do not waste any more time…
Book your free personalized consultation now by filling out the short form below.
And remember: A shot is FOREVER.