DPP Home Profiles Carlo Dalla Chiesa: The Beauty Within

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Carlo Dalla Chiesa: The Beauty Within

Using cutting-edge RED cameras for his still + motion shooting style, Carlo Dalla Chiesa is a lawyer-turned-photographer, cinematographer, director and digital entrepreneur. He enhances his subjects instead of trying to impose a style upon them.

For one thing, when you're shooting for motion, usually you're telling a story. The whole crew is much larger and you need to be in control of a lot more people. Also, for a lot of photographers, they're used to making a plan and then improvising on the shoot. They might have a loose plan centered around the model and maybe a room or a couple of rooms, and they're used to letting something magical come together. The lights can move around, the wardrobe can change, and all of this can happen quickly and experimentally. Some photographers are used to working this way and getting maybe eight shots out of the day. But when you're working with a bigger crew, you can't just improvise the same way. You need to be planning things out in much more detail, and you're mapping out a story, so you need to go through a lot more preparation.

Carlo Dalla Chiesa talks about using his skills as a photographer to bring out the best in the people he photographs. Using lighting techniques and lens selections, he has always worked to match the tools with the person. Like a sculptor who chips away at the rough bits of marble to let the figure emerge, Dalla Chiesa paints with lights and sculpts with perspectives until the perfect photo comes forth.

Do you connect with the people you photograph to bring out their best? Whether you take simple headshots or you prefer to place subjects in elaborate settings, check out our contest, The Face, devoted to people and portrait photography. There are prizes like a DSLR, gift cards and a special commemorative Asuka book, which all of the finalists and winners will receive, plus the winners will be showcased in a six-page feature in the December 2012 Masters issue of DPP. Go to the FACE 2012 Annual Photo Contest to see all of the prizes and rules, and learn how to enter. Hurry! The entry period ends September 28, 2012.
The current DSLR technology gives a lot of photographers a familiar environment. The lenses, the size of the camera, the support—all of these are familiar so they aren't intimidated by the camera. When they go to actually shoot, they will do it by doing it. They will find that it's a totally different workflow.

DPP: You mentioned you've been interested in being able to shoot still and motion for a long time. Does that come from your early days as a photographer? How did you get started?

Dalla Chiesa: I came to the States from Italy for a summer vacation. I was studying law, and being in California was so different from being in Europe at that time. This was in 1983. By the time I finished the summer, I decided to stay another three months, and I enrolled in a photography class at UCLA. That had always been my passion. So I took some classes, and I decided that it was what I really wanted to do. I met some people at school, and from there I became an assistant, and I did that for about five or six years and then I went out on my own. I was a photographer out on my own doing commercial photography for about 20 years. I had been very close to graduating with a law degree, and I just dropped it and followed my passion.

DPP: How do you define your style of still photography?

Dalla Chiesa: Since I started, photography has changed completely. I had been fascinated by how you could use your skills of lighting and your choice of lenses to do portraits and to make people look beautiful. I got a lot of comments on my photos and from the people I was photographing. They would say that they really liked the photos and they looked really good in the photos. I think my skills were in capturing the right light and choosing the right lens that a person needed to be photographed with. I could make someone look their best. My interpretation of photography was to be successful. The person I was photographing should feel good about themselves.

You can see Carlo Dalla Chiesa's Blow Up, as well as other projects, at www.smashboxdigital.com.


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