Lorenzo Gulino, aka Captblack76‘s mystical portfolio on Fotolia is full with magical fairy tale scenarios but with an adult twist. They’re darker, deeper and yet beautiful and captivating at the same time. Many of the themes are taken from childhood stories we all know, yet these are for sure not the Disney version! We spoke to him to find out more:

Hi Lorenzo! Can you firstly give a little introduction to yourself, what you do and how you came to start contributing to stock, what you like about this collaboration.

Hi, my name is Lorenzo Gullino, aka Captblack76 on Fotolia. I am a finance professional in my forties and started in Stock photography in a totally random way.

My studies, my degree and my previous jobs were completely different from this world, we can say at the opposite because I had to deal with investments, markets, and money.

I was quite bored and tired of just numbers so four years ago I started to look for something else.

My girlfriend thought my photographs were good and advised me to sell them , so I began.

Now I can say she was wrong. I was totally green and knew quite nothing of photography and post production. I also knew nothing of myself as a wannabe artist.

Discovering Fotolia was a great fortune , because even if at the beginning more than half of my submissions were rejected, it pushed me to study and learn from my technical mistakes. Now keeping a high quality standard has become natural and easier.

What I like most of this collaboration is the freedom you have. You can decide what, when, where and how create your images. And if you have worked well with a little luck your pictures will give you satisfaction for years.

Queen of fairy land

Your portfolio displays many photos of dark, Gothic, fantasy themes. Where do you draw the inspiration?

Since my youth I have always been an avid reader of vampire stories, fantasy novels and mythology books.

I also enjoyed roleplaying games and painting miniatures. So I think that my mind has been trained and educated to imagine and create fantastical worlds and different realities. I never thought one day these hobbies would have been useful. Classical music is also a great inspiration for me, as are some movies or videogames soundtracks, I shut my eyes and start daydreaming.

Of course I’m also inspired by artists of these genres but usually I try to use and develop my own ideas. I remember that one of my boyhood dreams was to write a fantasy novel, but it seems my fate is to tell fantastical stories not through words but images. To see my photos on fantasy or horror book covers really brings me joy.

Dark portrait of a young woman

Can you give us some details on your process to build the scene composition of a photo? How do you prepare for a photo shoot?

Every photo session is different and, as always, it all starts with an image in my head. I think the most creative moments of my day are just 15 minutes after wake up and 15 minutes before falling asleep.

I always have a notebook near my bed where I write these sleepy ideas. Details come later and take a lot of time to be put in order. I’m really strict and methodical in planning the photo shoot, because I don’t want get lost during the session. In my ‘story board’ I write anything, equipment, accessories, light schemes and I draw sketches of model poses, expressions, movements. In my mind I already know how the image must be and so I shoot and change the point of view until I’m satisfied. At the same time paradoxically planning all details leaves my mind free to focus on the emotion and feeling of the moment.

It is important to leave opportunities open during the shooting, so for example after following my script I always leave total freedom of expression to the model for a while, often it’s useful. Next step of the process is postproduction. I like to create romantic, ethereal or even dark atmospheres to enhance feminine beauty and elegance. Almost every time what brings to life an image is the relationship between light and shadow. Sometimes it is a dance, sometimes a battle.

Another key factor for my images is color. I love tones management, it helps me a lot to give mood and contrast to the image so I spend a lot of time on it. Allows me to upgrade a good image out of camera into an excellent one.

Ancient water magic

Is there any specific artist that you admire and take inspiration from?

I admire the Pre-Raphaelites, their aesthetic search of details, colors and arcane symbolism. Trying to recreate the Ophelia of Millais was a challenging session.

Soft light over floating dead woman

The fairy world of book illustrator Arthur Rackham is another must for me. I could stare for hours at his dryads, his tree spirits and fairies flying among autumn leaves. There is so much magic and archetypes in his works. More recent ones are Brian Froud, a worthy successor with a darker vision of these creatures and John Howe, another giant.

Talking about Fotolia’s fellows, one of the first author I started to admire and follow and I still consider a master is konradbak.

I think his skills, ideas and creativity are top level. From the beginning of my stock adventure trying to achieve that level has always been my goal.

What are your bestselling photos on Fotolia? Can you imagine why they got more popular than others?

My best seller image on Fotolia is a kitchen. It’s strange but a year ago when I shot it I already knew it would have been successful probably for its utility, cleanness and attractive colors. I know it’s obvious but this image keeps my feet on the ground and reminds me that in stock photography beauty and usefulness for the buyer are of equal importance.

Also this image gave me a lot of satisfaction in a short time. It carries many messages like passion, love, sensuality and mystery, so it’s easier to match the need of the customer.

Handsome fashion man undressing woman

Is there a photo in your portfolio that you are particularly attached to, and why?

I’m attached to this image and all the first Little Red Riding Hood sessions. For me it’s really important because it was the first time in which I tried something different and ‘not stock’. Firstly I did it for my delight.

Little red riding hood with a crossbow

But through this character I realized that my passion and knowledge of fairy tale, fantasy and horror genres may become extremely helpful to create and promote my own recognizable style.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” (Confucius)

A big thank you to Lorenzo for speaking with his and sharing his story. For more of his work you can check out his Fotolia portfolio.