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Series “True Locals”: All about the star photographer Fabrice Dall’Anese

28. March 2018

If Fabrice Dall’Anese had to describe his profession with a sound, then it would be “click”. Click, click. Fabrice is a portrait photographer and usually has the biggest Hollywood stars sitting in front of his camera. For some time, he has been travelling around the Olympiaregion Seefeld and taking images of people who tend to stay in the background: from the farmer to the trail-groomer, the ornamental blacksmith and many more. Together with Fabrice we have put together a new series of blogs “True Locals”. We hope to show the people without whom our region would not be the way it is. The people who typify our region and make it unique. You can look forward to some fantastic tales which all tell their own unique story.

At the start of the series, we would like to present the person who normally stays behind the camera: Fabrice Dall’Anese himself. We had the chance to speak to him during an inspiring interview about life, time, happiness and, of course, about photography and the stars.

A Roundabout Route to Happiness

Fabrice was originally a lawyer. He studied in Paris and London until he finally wrote his thesis in Munich. As a counterweight to the dry work for the doctorate he created his first photographic exhibition – with his holiday pictures. It was a stroke of fate that the exhibition brought him an offer of a holiday job that would change his life. “That was the deciding point in my life. It was the summer of 2000 and after that I was a completely different person,” Fabrice explains. In these three months he worked with people who lived their passion to the full. This experience gave the 24-year-old the courage and necessary for a major step in his life: to become a self-employed photographer. “I had my mid-life crisis at a very early stage,” smiles Fabrice. Luckily, as he has never regretted this step. In the meantime, his job as a portrait photographer in the film industry has taken him around the world. And, when he is not jetting around the globe, he likes to relax with a family break in the Olympiaregion Seefeld.

8 Minutes: A Race Against Time

Only 480 seconds. Eight minutes. Roughly 630 heartbeats or 80 blinks of an eye. That’s the only time that Fabrice generally has to show the stars in their best light. Then they are gone, and he has to have taken the perfect shot. Time. That’s the biggest challenge when Fabrice works with the stars. How does he manage to capture a good and honest portrait in so little time?

“You have to leave room for the unexpected.”

It is a massive challenge to discover and display emotion in this short period of time.

About Gifts, and the Ability to Recognise Them

“You have to keep yourself open to surprises. And be flexible.” Fabrice says. He always prepares himself well for the photography sessions, so that he has ideas and initial concepts of how he wants to portray the stars and how he wants to get them to that point as he steps onto the set. But that doesn’t always work and in that case, you have to be flexible and spontaneous enough to jettison your concepts and ideas and start from scratch.

Sometimes it’s the case that a star, who otherwise is completely nice, is having a bad day. And you have to allow for that. And sometimes you are lucky and someone who says No to everything suddenly says Yes.

“That is a gift – and you have to be in the moment and ready to accept it.”

Kevin Costner and the Campfire

It was exactly that kind of gift that Fabrice experienced with the two-times Oscar prize-winner Kevin Costner: he lived and worked with him for four days on his ranch. “We ate breakfast together and sat around a campfire at the end of the day. That was something special,” Fabrice remembers. Since that time there is also a campfire built by Fabrice on Costner’s ranch: at the end of the shoot the photographer really wanted a photo of him by the fire, but none of the locations seemed to work. Costner simply said: “Build your own. Grab a few stones, make a campfire, bring some beer and that will always be your place.”

Personal Encounters

Fabrice doesn’t just have stars and starlets in front of his lens. Now and then he takes pictures of normal people. “Working with inexperienced people is a fascinating task that you can’t compare to anything else,” he says.

Now Fabrice is working on “Regional Personalities”. Over the course of the shoots with personalities in the Olympiaregion Seefeld, Fabrice had many encounters which touched him on a personal level. Two particular shoots stayed in his memories. One was with ornamental blacksmith Alfons, who rarely lets anyone else into his workshop. “That was a pleasure and a personal highlight!”, says Fabrice looking back. “Everything was simply perfect”: the fire, the hard work, the coal-blackened hands – it could hardly have been better for bringing out the emotion and the atmosphere in Fabrice’s images.

One of the shoots during the winter has also stayed in his mind: one icy winter morning he took shots with a trail-grooming driver in the middle of a snowstorm. The photograph reflected exactly what Fabrice tries to achieve with his work: “People in their environment.” He is really happy about the overwhelming intensity in this image. It is so difficult to plan something like this: weather is also one of these gifts that you must be ready to accept…

More than just a Snapshot

Only a few people realise how much work lies behind each of his portraits. Every good image has more to it than people imagine.

“These days everyone has a camera with them,” Fabrice says and points to a smartphone. “From eight years of age through to 70, everyone takes pictures.” The camera is ready in only a couple of clicks. And thanks to Instagram and other platforms everyone has a gallery where they can display their images. People often ask Fabrice: “Wow, how did you take this photograph?”. They don’t realise how much work has gone on before Fabrice actually picks up his camera. He tries to form an idea of the subject, he considers what emotions he wants to portray and how he can visualise them. He is only ready to take a photograph after a lengthy period of conceptualisation and planning.

“There is the technical aspect and the personal. Technical knowhow is one thing – but the human aspect is more important,” Fabrice explains. You can only take a good image of someone when you allow their personality through on the other side of the camera. Work with him, bring something out of him. “We work together to achieve something.” Only someone who understands this concept can become a good portrait photographer.

In Love with the Olympiaregion Seefeld

Fabrice has been coming to the Olympiaregion Seefeld with his family for six years now. “I’m in love!” he admits with a grin. “It does people good to live up here on the plateau,” he says. He experiences a trust and humanity here that is ever more difficult to find in cities like Paris. “I regain my belief in the original relationships between people here. You feel the kind of hospitality and authenticity that has been lost in so many other places.” He treasures the balance between the old and new, between traditional and modern and the wide variety of the region. While his children are skiing, he sets off to discover new facets of the Olympiaregion – from a walk with alpacas to a hike under the full moon or a Shinrin Yoku forest bath, Fabrice has already experienced plenty. 😉 And the region has so much to offer that his travels of discovery are a long way from being complete.

BLOG SERIES: TRUE LOCALS

We are going to be displaying Fabrice’s works in the coming months – accompanied by articles about the people in the images. From the farmer to the trail-grooming driver to the ornamental blacksmith, as well as plenty of other fascinating personalities: it is time to show the people in the region who otherwise stay in the background. People who typify our region and help push it forward, without us necessarily being aware of it. Without them our region would not be what it is today.

For some time, the Olympiaregion has been in a bit of an uproar caused by the hosting of the Nordic Ski World Championships in 2019. But even though such a big event as this is taking place, life goes on before, during and after the World Championships. Our Regional Personalities are fully aware of this and will allow us to share their own personal stories and experiences.

Fotos: Fabrice Dall’Anese, Tessa Mellinger, Stefan Wolf

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