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First Love

February 2016 // Categorised in: ,

Hi everyone! Today I’m going to talk about how my latest picture came to be. As you know, my previous photograph, The Pond, continued the series of Love-themed images, each one depicting different stages and kinds of love. This one, First Love, follows the track and speaks, unsurprisingly, about first love.

Gonzaga Manso | First love

I wanted to capture that first teenage love, specifically the first time you make love to someone. The eagerness, the insecurities, the complicity, the innocence… you’re not quite sure of what to do with your hands, she has that gleam in her eyes… the smell of her skin, her touch… It is a very special and magical moment, and capturing it in a photograph wasn’t going to be an easy task.


There’s also a bit of a sordid side to this kind of moments when you are a teenager because you don’t have a place to go, so you end up in secluded locations which are usually far from romantic. That’s why I chose an empty parking lot.

The casting process was kind of tricky. I needed a young-looking couple who looked great together and who could also give me the performance the photograph required. Being a wideshot, their expression and pose had to perfectly convey at first glance those mixed feelings I was talking about earlier. We finally found the perfect couple and they worked great.

Finally, I wanted to add a nostalgic touch. We always draw from personal experience, and in my case my teens are sadly long gone, so I decided to go for a classic, vintage car as well as a dated look for the actors’ style. For the car, we were extremely lucky to get some help from Fernando Blanco, owner of the blog, who was so kind as to bring one of his own cars and patiently help us place it in the right spot and allow us to tarnish his windshields and rig some lights inside the car.


The photoshoot went great. The fog was accomplished with the help of two different fog machines we borrowed from our friends at EFE-X and a lot of patience from our assistants. We had to carefully choose the day based on weather forecasts in order to have as little wind as possible, because wind would make it impossible to get the fog right where we wanted. We chose wisely and we had very little wind, but what we could not avoid was the cold of a late October night. This was especially hard for the actors, who were posing with very little clothes on and had to be reheated every time we paused. But they survived and did a great job. In order to accentuate the foggy look, we had a Black Pro Mist filter on camera that helped with diffusion and mood.

We also wanted to have a wet floor, for light reflections and general atmosphere, so we had the art crew (with some help from other crew members from different departments) spraying water through quite a large surface.

As for the light, we got some help from the awesome Cristina Otero, who lend us a hand and brought over her Move 1200, which added two more lights to our set.


We had to filter some of the lights in order to bring them to the same colour temperature as that of the light posts in the parking lot. Their overhead light was left unfiltered to give a moonlight, bluish magical touch. The lighting scheme consisted of an overhead 75 octabox placed right above the actors, a full CTO-filtered 60×60 softbox to the right-front of them, a full CTO-filtered 150 octabox for the car and ambience and a straw-filtered bare head inside the car.

I could achieve the lighting I was aiming for thanks to the Move 1200L’s ability to give a really low power to the heads. In this way, I could balance my lights to the existing streetlights and get the look I wanted.

All in all, it was a pleasant shoot, which as usual, came to be thanks to the help of many talented people who always answer my call. Forever grateful. The resulting photograph manages to capture the thrill, magic and mistery I was looking for, so I am extremely happy about it. I hope you like it too.