The Story of My Light

A Travel Photography Adventure With the Profoto A1

I love the way that people talk when they’re sharing something they’re really passionate about. The way their guard drops, and their expression becomes earnest and open. Suddenly, they’re quicker to smile and louder when they laugh, and eager to give you a glimpse of the world from their perspective.

One of the best parts of our work at Global Image Creation is when our clients show us their passions, whether that’s their hotel, their food, or their work. When they share the projects and ideas that keep them up late at night and get them out of bed early in the morning. As they’re talking we can feel their passion start to thump in our own chests, and then, through our work, we get to show people what their passion looks like to us.

We’re lucky enough to do this a lot, however, our recent project in Sardinia was absolutely filled with experiences like this. Day after day we traveled with our friends, and met new and incredible people who shared not only their passions with us, but also their food, their company, their laughter, and their kindness.

A Travel Photography Lighting Adventure With The Profoto A1

The Project

Our project in Sardinia was an adventure designed to showcase the capabilities of the Profoto A1, the world’s smallest studio light.

We teamed up with our friends Matteo and Rita, the owners of a marketing and events company based in Olbia, Sardinia, called All Me Connection. It had been 10 years since I worked in Sardinia, which was when I first met Matteo and Rita, and we had 10 days to shoot this project as well as 10 A1s to shoot it with. It seemed only fitting to issue ourselves the challenge of creating 10 unique shoots.

Beyond the concept of the challenge itself, we really went into this project with no plan. For us, one of the biggest advantages of having a lighting tool like the A1 is the ability to create incredible photos with very little set-up or planning, and we decided to embrace the spontaneity and adventure that the A1 allows. Fortunately, Matteo and Rita seem to know everything that’s happening in Sardinia and everyone who lives there. More than a few times we had no idea what, where, or who we might be capturing in a day until the moment that Matteo picked us up that morning.

Matteo and Renzo Review a Shot

The Backstory

I started Global Image Creation 15 years ago because I could see a new age of photography emerging that was mobile and adaptable. Light has always been a huge part of my work, and I could see an age of DSLRs and lightweight, powerful lighting equipment; technology that meant I could deliver great images anywhere in the world without having to drag around huge amounts of heavy gear. By utilizing the newest technology and working creatively, I was able to create incredible images with a smaller crew, less shoot time, and cause less of a disruption to the clients I was working with, which gave me more freedom to shoot on location anywhere in the world.

Hotel Photographers, Luxury Hotel Photography, Resort Photographer of Private Helicopter Arrival at 7132 Hotel, Vals

Over my career, I have continued to seek out technology that gave me the power that I needed, and also the mobility to shoot anywhere. The cameras and lights I use have become lighter, more powerful, and more practical. Profoto, in particular, has really responded to the needs of photographers who work like I do. In 2018, when Profoto released the A1, I was finally able to switch completely to Profoto lights and create the lightweight, powerful, and adaptable lighting setup that I dreamed of a decade and a half ago.

The best thing that has come from creating the perfect lighting setup is that I can focus more of my time and energy into seeing and capturing my client’s passions. I’m not held back by the weight or size of my equipment, and I don’t have to spend hours plugging in cables and setting up heavy lights. Instead, I can focus on the photo I’m taking, and the reason I’m taking it.

This is true of the A1 in particular. The light is battery operated, very lightweight, powerful, and quick to set-up. With a few A1s in my bag, I can be ready to create a studio anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice.

Kitesurfer Renzo Mancini Walks on the Beach With His Kite
Kitesurfer Renzo Mancini Surfs on Air and Water

As well as being a kitesurfer who was ranked top ten in the world, Renzo is one of the creators of Italian fashion brand EXKITE. The brand upcycles materials from retired kites into one-of-a-kind wearable pieces, each with a tag telling the story of the rider who used the kite, and where it was flying. The pieces are available on EXKITE.com, and an exclusive collection will be available at Barney’s New York in 2019.

Renzo’s passion for kitesurfing was absolutely infectious, and an impromptu shoot with a world-class kitesurfer on a stunning beach was absolutely the best way to begin our challenge in Sardinia.

After the shoot we stopped to grab something to eat at a beachfront food truck. Together, we watched a few surfers, went over our shots from the day, and talked about our project in Sardinia. Renzo mentioned that we should check out a site outside of Olbia called “the Tomb of the Giants”.

Su Monte ‘e S’Ape Tomb of the Giants

There are hundreds of megalithic structures all over Sardinia that are known of as the “Tombs of the Giants”. These tombs are burial chambers that date back as far as 2000 BC. Su Monte ‘e S’Ape, located near the Olbia airport, is one of the biggest tombs on the island.

Tomb of The Giant, Olbia, Sardinia, Italy

We arrived at Su Monte ‘e S’Ape with just enough time before dark to set up our lights and capture a time-lapse of night falling on the tomb. It was a beautiful, bright, and clear night, and we were alone at the site except for a lovely Italian family. The daughter was more than happy to practice her English, and chat about her favorite musician, Eminem.

At one point while we were shooting, we heard the jingle of bells and turned around to see a local herder guiding his sheep down the road. It was a lovely, if slightly surreal, night.

Endurance Motorcycle Racing pro Antonio Scanu

Few people – including us until recently – would associate Sardinia with motor sports. However, the wide and rough dirt roads around Olbia offer a haven for endurance riders to train. For this shoot, we headed out to Monte Pinu to capture endurance riders Antonio Scanu and Romano Caviglia as they navigated across the scrub and rocky, steep landscape.

Endurance Motorcycle Racing pro Antonio Scanu Poses With His Bike

To us, this shoot was the perfect example of how well passion can translate across different cultures, languages, and interests. While we were not very familiar with endurance riding, once we began speaking with Antonio and Romano we immediately recognized their passion for the sport, and the time and skill they have put into becoming among the best in the world at what they do. That passion is infectious. We absolutely love that so many of the shoots we do give us the opportunity to discover something we never would have known about otherwise.

We can’t wait to join Antonio and his team at Insolita Sardegna (Unusual Sardinia) for an off road tour of our own when we are back in the spring.

Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites

The Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites is a beautiful hotel that has been run by the Da Tome family since it first opened 50 years ago in 1968. While we were in Sardinia, we photographed the hotel’s new pool suite room and rooftop pool, as well as the Blu Restaurant.

We have had the honor of working with several family owned hotels, and they hold a special place for us. From our first meeting with the Da Tome family, when they treated us to dinner, we felt more like friends or extended family than people who were there to photograph their property.

Pool Suite at Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites
Pool Suite Bathroom at Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites
Lady Enjoys In Suite Pool at Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites
The View From Blu Restaurant at Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites

We met several generations of family members, each of whom work to make sure everything at the hotel and restaurant is running smoothly. Everyone we met was excited to bring their enthusiasm and  perspective to the shoot.

We heard incredible stories that we never would have known if we hadn’t come to this special place, and we left with a whole family of new friends.

Chef Massimiliano Villani, Restaurant L’Essenza Bistrot

The L’Essenza Bistrot is a gourmet restaurant in the heart of Olbia, recently opened by Chef Villani Massimiliano. Chef Villani previously contributed to gaining a Michelin star at the Hotel Mont Blanc Village La Salle, and his new restaurant has already caught the attention of Michelin guide inspectors.

The restaurant, which is inside an old Sardinian building, is a very intimate, comfortable, and welcoming space with stone walls and large wooden beams. Around the restaurant are all sorts of little collections of wines, whiskies, clocks, and even funny ceramic chickens.

Chef Massimiliano Villani, Restaurant L’Essenza Bistrot
Chef Massimiliano Villani, Restaurant L’Essenza Bistrot
Chef Massimiliano Villani, Restaurant L’Essenza Bistrot

Our experience time and time again in Sardinia was that people went above and beyond to really make us feel welcome, and to share their passion with us. Chef Massimiliano was no different. At the end of our shoot he prepared a multi-course meal specifically to share with us. To us, these kind of things mark the true nature of hospitality, and we felt incredibly honored.

Siddura Winery

The Siddura Winery, located near the picturesque medieval village of Luogosanto, was founded in 2008. It is located on a formerly abandoned vineyard, and the owners strive to build on the centuries-old tradition and culture of wine in the area. The Siddura estate stretches for two hundred acres and the grounds are a mixture of granite, sand, and clay – ideal for cultivating grapes. After only a few years in commercial operation, the Siddura Winery is now the most awarded winery in Sardinia.

Siddura Winery Tasting Room Interior Photography

We travelled to the winery to capture one of the winery’s former cellars, which has been turned into a beautiful gathering space. As you enter there is a large table made from a solid slab of wood, and different varieties of wine are displayed throughout the room. While the entire cellar is incredibly beautiful, what makes it really special is that all of the walls are filled with incredible works of art.

During the shoot, our hosts served some traditional Sardinian bread and sausage on cork platters, some incredible cheeses, and, of course, wine. Our hosts were incredibly gracious and made us feel completely welcome.

A Wedding Shortcut

For this shoot we worked with a prominent hair stylist Antonio Iannello of Extroverso and local family-owned boutique, Nuova Zavalon, to capture some of their gowns and suits in a creative, original way. Our concept for the shoot was that a well meaning brother-of-the-bride had taken the bride and her bridesmaid on a “shortcut” to the wedding venue, only to have his car break down in an area with no signal.

This shoot had a few challenges that made it memorable. Our location was a nearby marsh that was muddy and soft, and it was a chilly, windy day – all of which made it the perfect place to bring beautiful, expensive gowns. In the end, we laid two large sheets of plastic on the ground for the models to get changed and pose on, which really added to the silly, fun atmosphere of the shoot.

A Wedding Day Shortcut

The models in the shoot were the actual brothers and sisters of the family who owned the boutique, and had a great time getting into their characters. We got the impression that the “bride” didn’t mind pretending to hit her brother with a shoe at all.

Halloween Photography in Italy

While we were in Sardinia, our friends Matteo and Rita were organizing S’Iscuru, a huge festival for Halloween, so, of course, we decided to shoot some promo images.

Choice Seats - S’Iscuru Halloween Promotional Photography
A Demon Has His Day - S’Iscuru Halloween Promotional Photography
When IT's in Rome - S’Iscuru Halloween Promotional Photography

This was an incredibly fun shoot, and we used multiple locations across the city to create some great images. One of the highlights of the shoot was being let into a movie theatre during the six-minute intermission of a double feature to capture a photo of our model in a Michael Myers mask sitting in seat number 13 holding a steak knife.

We can’t help but wonder what the people still in the theatre thought of their intermission entertainment.

Artist Lucia Balzano

One of the best parts of our work is how often we meet incredible artists and creatives. During our time in Sardinia we had the opportunity to capture local contemporary artist Lucia Balzano, who also happens to be Rita’s mom.

We captured Lucia through one of her pieces , called “The boy with the seagull”, a sculpture which is installed outside the library in Olbia.

Lucia

Cooking on The Sea

We celebrated the end of the challenge with an Italian dinner prepared by Rita’s father, Gian Mario Careddu, in the galley of his converted fishing boat, and I couldn’t resist the urge to capture a few candid shots.

We had an incredible time in Sardinia, and we’re definitely not waiting another 10 years to return for another project.

Cooking on The Sea
Cooking on The Sea
Cooking on The Sea
Cooking on The Sea

I Make My Own Light. A Self-Portrait

The concept behind this shoot was to communicate the idea that we make our own light with the Profoto A1, and the power and creative freedom that comes with that. It’s also a reflection of myself and how I express my experiences while traveling. If you’re an artist you might sketch your world, if you’re a writer you would write about it, but photos are how I create a moment to share with other people.

Jeremy Mason McGraw - I Make My Own Light