Interview: Photographer Thomas Lui (Italy)
Tell us something about yourself1
I'm Thomas, a photographer from Milano, known under the name of ReflexStudio. I've beenshooting since I was very young of age and from 7 years until now I've managed to turn it into aprofession. Or better likely : I'm trying to make it become a profession. I'm attracted by everything"person" related, and I'm strongly attracted towards everything concerning personal relationships.
How and when did you get into photography?
I've effectivly entered the world of photography in 2010. But as I said before, I started takingpictures since I was really young. I started at the age of 4 with a polaroid. In my house. I've learnedalone how to change the film paper. And since then I've never stopped. Why did I enter the worldof photography? It would be a lie if I said: because I have a message to send out to the world. No,it's simply because I like to shoot pictures. I like the magic that is created and the possibility toredesign with light. As I always say: I started taking pictures because I can't draw. So I decided tolet go the pencil and take a camera instead. Have I done the right choice?
What does photography mean to you?
For me, photography is my way to see things. I see them behind a curved glass and I like howthese sometimes look transfigured or sometimes completely different from reality. Photography isa form of "therapy", where properly used, is able to show people how they truly are. And that inreality they are far more than what they just see, it's just one of the manyfacets that they have and that they show.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I'm a portraitist. Portrait photography is the kind that mostly fascinates me and convinces meto work hard to obtain results. In portrait photography, it's mainly me and the subject of theportrait. In my kind of photography I try to be as minimalist as possible. I deconstruct in order toreach the essence. For me the the fundamental thing is to capture the person. Even better ifwithout any kind of addition. Neutral background.One light, or natural light, and we try to reachthe essence of the person. Can I? Almost never. I try. Always.
Where do you get inspiration from?
From everything. I look up to the great masters of the past or I let myself be inspired by themoment. For sure, source of great inspiration has been one of my masters Alfredo Sabbatini.Without him, I wouldn't have been able to see anything in the right manner.
Think you in advance what you want in the picture?
If it's a previously studied session,absolutely yes. But much depends from the moment and theperson I'm portraying. If I have a customer I try to stay as much as possible in his requests. If freeto act, I let myself be guided by improvisation.
Studio, on location or both?
Both.Depending on the kind of project I have to create. I have no personal preference. Studio,location or even externals.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
I'm a professional
What has been your most memorable session and why?
Descrbing just one wouldn't be right, it wouldn't be respectful towards all the people who hadbeen helping me out in this period. I'll name some of them. Some for the marvellous results, otherfor the particularity of the project and other because of the emotions that originated in myperson. And I chose to insert them in the following pictures. For example, a portrait I did ofBeatrice in ambient light, that just by looking at it, even now, makes me remember exactly what Ifelt in that moment. It has been of great help. Greatly. And I'm gratefull till the end, becausewithout that little dowel, maybe everything would have fallen. Paradoxically it has been like thearc vault.Not yet seen, but yet memorable, has been the session with Giulia, with her makeupdone by Fiorella Scatena [my dearest friend and artist whom I truly I respect for her innate talentand class], dressed with a red cloth that we walked around the most popular squares of Milano, tocreate some pictures that at the moment are still "hidden", because..like good wine, the're waitingto come out. There's the skull painted by Carola (once again on Giulia), a beautiful gift.The powerand fury of the sea,recreated on a person, with just the mere use of colour. Majestic has been therealization, precious interpretation,and magic is the sensation and emotion I felt that day, andthat I still feel now every time I look at it.There's EVERY shooting with Miele. A unique emotion, every time. Having to work with her is likehandling a volcano. She is the one who gives, I recognize her as The Artist of nude. Watching herpose is pure magic and poetry. Giada, with her sweetness and elegance, always transmits a lot ofheat and passion. She's never vulgar, never trivial, never predictable and I like to work with herbecause she's one who has done research on a personal still spot. She's never limitated herself bybeing just aesthetically beautiful.It gives me great emotion to think back and re-watch each shotwhere my main collaborators have partecipated, (now no longer just collaborators, but muchmore) at their makeup station. A succesion of colors and brush strokes that carries each one ofthem, the soul of whom, in that moment was holding the brush and painting. They hold thenames of Carola Fasce, Fiorella Scatena, Eleonora Pellegrini and Sara Bergaglio. They gave mesomething more, I just had to take it with full hands. So thank you. Really.If I didn't mention the pictures taken with Tanya it would be a crime! With her I've always had awonderful relationship. We always push ourselves beyond, and we're always able to create reallygorgeous shots, with nothing at hand. We really do for eachother. And in the end, I feel the needto remind when Make-up artist and model, had by request collimated in the same person. Andhere by remembering it now, Carola filled with emotion and embarassment, with her red dress,laying down on the chair of one of the most famous theatres of the world [and so, with also theawareness that it wouldn't be possible to use it again, but I must say, that it has never been usedso well before!], gives me the same emotions of that time. Exceptional location.Perfect make up.
Model, well...I actually just made a click.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
The person. I want to study it and understand it. To be able to go on beyond the mask and see
what hides behind the behavior of each one of us. Digging and digging. It's never easy, but it is
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
Canon. But just because it was the body machine of a Canon to choose me. I've had in hand
about everything. Even Hasselblad, but there's nothing like having a Canon. And as lens a 50 mm.
I love to blur while shooting with a fully open diaphragm.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Don't give up in front of the first adversity. Continue and persevere. Try to not be a slave of
light, but turn it into your means of writing. Study and be always on the move. Shoot every day.
Never stop. You have to keep your finger warm as long as possible. Most of all: look at your
pictures with objectivity. There is nothing perfect. And there is nothing that has not been yet
pictured. It's up to us to simply try to picture it in a new, different and original way.
What do you think of our new magazine?
I think it's a great magazine! I like it for it's contents and the possibilities it offers, not just for
the photographers but for the whole sector working behind it. I think it's really great!