Learning From The Masters: Two Days Photo Shoot With Oliviero Toscani – Val Gardena, South Tyrol

Some weeks ago, I had the chance to follow a shooting of Oliviero Toscani in beautiful Val Gardena in South Tyrol, Italy. He was shooting the new catalog of ski gear brand Vist. The result will be presented at The ISPO in Munich from next Sunday on.

Here is what I experienced…

As I am mostly shooting in the streets outside, I had always wished to sneak in a professional studio shoot with some outstanding photographer. Just to learn. When I got the call if I wanted to join Oliviero Toscani for a shooting I first couldn’t belive it. I had just seen the Arte program Photo for Life with him teaching young photographers in sort of a masterclass. Sure I said yes!

I arrived on a beautiful sunny day, but nontheless couldn’t wait to get into the studio. The first surprise: the studio was very… let’s call it unspectacular – no real studio, just a room with a background and one flash light in the village’s community hall.

In a short break I went up to Toscani and introduced myself: „Hello, I am Gunnar, I am a blogger and I am pleased to attend your shooting for two days.“ He turned away and told me that bloggers are lazy! I knew, provocation is Toscani’s life motto, so what would I have expected. He told me to take a chair and sit still and that’s what I did.


The theme of the catalog was „Maestri Di Sci“ („masters of skiing“). There were former champions, ski instructors and even South Tyrol’s society queen Renate Hirsch Giacomuzzi together with her dog acting as ‚models‘ for that very special catalog project.

I was impressed how clearly Toscani knew what he wanted and at the same time worked spontaneously with what happened in the moment. And he didn’t take many photos at all. Less is more, again! Also in terms of lighting: he only used one flash with a square softbox, sometimes a self constructed styrofoam with a silver coating as additional reflector on the floor. Here comes a photo of the set:

Toscani’s equipment: 304 broncolor flash generator, one flash light with 150x150cm broncolor softbox, Canon 1D with Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2,8 L USM and Adobe Bridge.

In the end, it is the singer not the song! I am very curious to see the final catalog that will be presented at Vist’s stand at the ISPO from next Sunday on.

By the way: on the second day, Toscani took the time to give me an extensive interview which I will post soon. Stay tuned ; )