What is a photographer? Someone with a camera. An iPhone, even. Now, anyone can be a photographer by literal definition. So how does a professional photographer, an artist, set himself apart?

For Matteo Bertolio it’s about having something to say. Creating a shoot that’s “aesthetically self-sufficient” is one thing, but for Bertolio it’s not enough. He garnishes every shoot with a story or message.

Not one to underdeliver, Bertolio’s latest shoot for Bambi magazine is packed with more hidden meaning than a philosopher’s dream dictionary. First and foremost is an exploration of feminine vs masculine. In a world where gender roles no longer fall into two distinct and immutable groups (man works, woman stays at home), the opportunities for women are not only great, but boundary-blurring. To simplify, women have become more like men.

theatrical fashion shoot

Click the thumbnails for full pictures:
Alana Marie by Matteo Bertolio for Bambi (NSFW)
Alana Marie by Matteo Bertolio for Bambi (NSFW)
Alana Marie by Matteo Bertolio for Bambi (NSFW)
Alana Marie by Matteo Bertolio for Bambi (NSFW)
Alana Marie by Matteo Bertolio for Bambi (NSFW)
Alana Marie by Matteo Bertolio for Bambi (NSFW)

Matteo’s image of model Alana Marie pointing a rapier at her moustached, Torero counterpart (also played by the same model) represents a conflict arising from this. Alana Marie isn’t just fighting herself, she’s fighting her masculine self. If woman is asked to be both powerful and career-driven, as well as feminine and sexy, how does she cope? For Alana Marie a gender war is raging, but it’s all within herself.

In another image the masculine Alana Marie holds an American flag like a muleta, tempting the figurative bull of the financial markets and of Wall Street. In a 3-cornered hat Bertolio likens his model to George Washington, a symbol of American freedom defeating Mexican machismo. When feminine roles rise up, the ‘macho’ male simultaneously comes down. The gender blur continues.

Aside from riffing on the closing gap between genders, and the conflicts that ensue, Matteo Bertolio adds another layer of drama and theatricality to every single image. That, again, comes back to creating someting greater than just a pretty set of photos. Nothing says that better than a particularly beautiful image of Alana Marie, suspended in time and space, amidst the fluttering silk wings of an oriental kimono. The kimono is a costume piece from Puccini’s Turandot, and Bertolio’s shoot saw it paired with full theatrical hair and makeup (hair by Pierguiseppe Moroni, makeup by Arianna Campa). In taking the hours to create something visually dramatic and artistic, Bertolio’s message is to “go back to beauty” in all that we do – shunning the modern connotations of “Made in China” and daring to use the word “made” as a synonym for something truly creative.

Thought-provoking musings aside, Matteo Bertolio’s shoot from Bambi issue XI really is aesthetically self-sufficient. But the rest takes it above and beyond. Styled by Sartorie Teatrali, you can view the full shoot by visiting the gallery.

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