All of Lillo Bonadonna's fascinating portraits are about mood, feelings and emotions. The intensity and beauty of his photographs show how strongly involved he is with human feelings. Photography is a sort of introspection which gives him the possibility to externalize himself in an artistic way. Beside being a great artist, he also has a strong and warm personality. Let's have a glimpse into this great artist's mind...
How have your history and life experiences affected your photography?
I was born in Caltanissetta, a city in Sicily (Italy) May 1, 1969.
My land has a fairly warm climate and a history full of culture, charm and mystery, including the people who live there. The surrounding landscapes are often arid burned by the sun, like the faces of the people. The beauty of Mediterranean women also strikes me.
For all these reasons I started photography at age 20 wanting to capture all that this land offered me. Later I went on to landscape photography, then to street portraits and finally to studio portraits.
Since the beginning, my approach was the black and white studying the technique of the great master Ansel Adams and his zone system, developing and printing in the darkroom, so being involved in the entire process from exposure, shooting, developing and printing.
Which are your most important experiences that have influenced your art?
As a child I was fascinated to hear the stories of the elderly who had lived during the war and the consequences and inconveniences of those times. I fantasized as if I were living in those days, so I started to look at the beautiful and poignant photographs by Robert Capa.
These fantasies prompted me to take pictures.
What first attracted you to photography?
The first thing that attracted me to photography is the communication that it can transmit to me. Today we are used to seeing very sharp pictures, which are perfect technically, but without any communicative expression.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
Photography is an art through which one can transfer human feelings into a personal vision. No two portraits will ever be the same as everyone has a different heart and soul.
Why are you so drawn by Portrait Photography?
I am very attracted by portraits not only of women but also of any other person, because I think that the language of the expression on a face and the eyes tell their own state of mind even if one has closed eyelids. They can tell more than words.
I always try to get in symbiosis with the person portrayed creating a feeling, because besides being a photographer, I'm another person.
What is more important to you, the mood, /story behind your images or the technical perfection?
To me the mood and the history are more important in a photograph. Often a “dirty” image conveys much more than a technically perfect one.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
The human relationship with the person portrayed is essential for the success of the final image. You should be familiar with your model and know their state of mind and their insecurities. It means that you will create a feeling that is perhaps more important than the shot itself.
Many times I talked to people I met during my travels and heard their stories without making a shot, but I was happy because my cultural background was always enriched.
Do you prepare carefully the set-up before each photo shoot?
Yes, before each session of shots in the studio, I always design what I want to achieve, but it can also happen that I get a good idea at the actual time of the shoot.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
My equipment is a bit poor, I use a Nikon D700 accompanied by my inseparable Nikkor 85mm f. 1.8 afs G, Nikkor 28-70 afs D
Studio: three blinks torches 600 ws with parables of various measures
Softbox 60x90, 40x120, 40x40, 60x60 octagonal 80cm
Beauty disc 40 cm 80 cm
Backdrops and screen-printed single color
Three light beacons continual to 750 W with quartz lamps
What software do you use to process your images?
Photoshop, Camera Raw and Imagenomic portraiture
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
I work exclusively in raw file where I do my first adjustment of lights and shadows, then go to Photoshop and from here starts the whole process, from the skin, the composition and cutting up to the black and white conversion with levels of layers and masks with various adjustments to obtain the desired B & W. I save the file in jpg and psd so if I find some fault I can resume the work flow.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Portrait Photography and how do you get started?Today, technology and quality optics of the cameras have achieved a great deal. This is a positive side, but in some cases, especially as a beginner portrait photographer the great sharpness is not always synonymous with beautiful photography.
I would recommend more focus on emotions and the light management.
Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Initially when I went to landscape photography, I was very inspired by Ansel Adams and his practice of the zonal system.
For my portraits I never really followed a particular model photographer. I prefer portraits to be elegant especially the ones of women.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I love doing artistic photography without any profit, but I do think that in the future if they made me a proposal in the field of Fashion Portrait, I would accept it without problems.
Describe your favorite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
This photograph is very important to me because I can identify with it. Through this photo I feel my insecurities that I feel in my everyday life. It is a sort of introspection which I have been able to externalize in an artistic way. I love life and I love to live it
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
1x for me is the best portal for the photographic artist. I particularly like, as opposed to other sites, that the image choices do not only address the technical perfection of the shot but especially the emotional power.