Digital FeaturesA Night with Sir NikolaiDanillo Turilli
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Danillo Turilli

A Night with Sir Nikolai · Danillo Turilli 1 / 1
Interview

INTERVIEW

Danillo Turilli

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PHOTOGRAPHY Danillo Turilli COOPERATION WITH The Lingerie Issue STYLING Anna Fries, Julia Kunstmann HAIR  & MAKEUP Richard Wilkinson @ Louisa Artist MODEL Katrin Tonn @ Spin Management PRODUCTION Marion Walter Production DIGITAL OPERATOR Susie von Geiso LOCATION Sir Nikolai Hotel Hamburg CAMERA Leica S (Typ 007) with Ermarit-S 45 mm f/2.8 Asph, Summarit-S 70 mm f/2.5 Asph and APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120 mm f/2.5 (CS).

Influenced by the sensual flair of the Italian cinema of the fifties (‘La Dolce Vita’) and Helmut Newton’s staging of feminine eroticism, Danillo Turilli’s ‘A Night with Sir Nikolai’ captures timeless black and white images of model Katrin Tonn wearing alluring lingerie by Opaak, Wolford, Eres and Beate Uhse. Anna Fried and Julia Kunstmann were in charge of the styling.

You studied Digital Design and Photography, then moved to fashion via lifestyle photography. Why the change of direction?
I started working in an advertising agency very early on and got to shoot lots of very different things, and with that experience I started to see what I liked more and what I was passionate about. I believe that when you are passionate about something and really enjoy it you can excel and produce really good work, so why should I water it down with the things I’m not passionate about. I can leave the other genres of photography to the people who are passionate about them.    

Which photographers served or serve as stylistic direction and why?
One of my all time favourite photographers is Helmut Newton. I love the old-world chic he portrays in his work, but combined with stark nudity. With his images you stop and look and take in the feel of the image as well as the story. I don’t feel that many other photographers in the fashion and advertising side have accomplished this.

I also love old Italian, neo-realism movies from the 1950s, such as the well known La Dolce Vita by Fellini. The opulent lifestyle where everyone dressed so well and had so much fun, really makes me wish I was alive in those times.
My grandfather lived through it before he coming to South Africa, because he came from a town just outside Rome.        

In your personal work you often deal with nudes, underwear and lingerie. What is it about this theme that attracts you?
I think it’s a romanticised idea in my head about what yesteryear was like, coming from those Italian movies and images by Helmut Newton. People could have fun and enjoy life. I love clothes of course, I feel that we can hide behind clothing; but to get to the real intimacy and feeling of the person/model you need to strip away anything they can hide behind.    

In ‘A Night with Sir Nikolai’ you also worked around this theme. Is there a story to go with it? What’s it about?
Yes I had been thinking about shooting lingerie in a hotel for a long time and the Sir Nikolai suited this so well, because it’s modern but also has ties to the old world I long for so much. The lingerie also ranges between classic lace and modern laser cut body suits.
 
In my mind it’s a story about a spoilt girl who is so used to staying in opulent hotels in every part of the world, that she is bored and amuses herself by dressing up in all the lingerie that she has spent the day buying in the city. Without a care in the world, she walks around her hotel suite and ventures out into the hallways.    

You decided to do the whole series in black and white. Why?
For the contrast and feeling, and so that the viewer can’t tell if it is set in the modern era or in the old-world.  

How do you prepare for a photo shoot? Do you plan each situation thoroughly, do you let the model rock the story or how does it go in your case?
For me I like to build a story and prepare as much as I can for the shoot, and when I get on the location I explain the story to model and team. As we begin shooting, it starts to take shape and move in its own direction, but guided by the narrative.  

You live and work in Cape Town. Does this offer you an advantage, and what impact do other locations, such as Europe, have on your photography? Does it change the way you photograph? Do different places have a direct influence on the way you express yourself?
Yes I do think that living in South Africa has moulded the way I shoot. We are the land of locations, and the weather allows for lots of location shoots. Within two hours drive of Cape Town you have locations that look like Monaco, German forests, deserts and modern or old cities. We also have great teams of very creative people to work with. The more I travel, the more I realise that the way we grew up, and the different people we interact with everyday, has made Cape Town in particular super creative and different to anywhere else; so of course this will reflect in the work we do.  

Cape town is small, so when I come to Europe it opens up the way I see things; and I get to work with great people as well who are different and have a different taste and upbringing. I’m very lucky to be able to be exposed to and learn from both places.  
   
For this work you use the Leica S for the first time: was it different for you? You still also work with analogue a lot. Why? Regarding the image effect is the S more digital or analogue?
I use a DSLR for most of my work for clients, and use a completely mechanical, big chunky medium format analogue camera for some of my personal projects, so I’m used to both; but what was amazing is that the Leica S is a medium format camera in a DSLR style body. I get to shoot like I shoot with a DSLR, but the depth, quality and feel of the images are that of a big medium format camera. For the first time, when I looked at the images and converted them to black and white, I felt like they had the beauty of my 6x7 film camera but in a digital workspace, which blew me away. I print my negatives and don’t digitise them, so I can see the feel of the film images; but the Leica has that super sharp crisp detail with a very soft fall off at even high f-stops, which is amazing if you use flash a lot like I do. I’m definitely excited to shoot with one again very soon.    

Which focal length worked best for you? What do you work with otherwise?
I loved the 70mm, the 45mm and the 120mm: I mostly used the first two, as I was in a hotel room most of the time and I couldn’t step back enough to use the 120mm a lot. So to get a bit wider, to tell more of the story was great. I mostly use a 24-70 and 50mm on my DSLR, so it’s in a similar range to these medium format lenses.
     
Photographically speaking, where do you want to see yourself in the future?
I love shooting fashion campaigns: I like the challenge and organising everything; and seeing your work printed and up in shop windows is great. So I definitely want to shoot more and shoot with some great brands.

I have also been shooting a lot of personal work and would love to have an exhibition in the very near future.