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Podcast Episode 14: This is Fabio Mirulla

Honoured to have our Photographer of the Year 2019 with us for Episode 14 today; the brilliant Fabio Mirulla! Fabio won a staggering 17 Awards in 2019, including 8 Story Awards – such a worthy winner of our POY! He truly is one of the very best documentary wedding photographers in Italy. It was such a pleasure to talk to Fabio – he shares so much – including:

  • what it meant to him to be our Photographer of the Year 2019,
  • what drives and motivates him,
  • his background in archeology and how there are similiarites to how he shoots weddings,
  • the importance of experimentation,
  • taking us back to his first ever wedding,
  • how his style was built over time,
  • how photography shouldn’t have limits,
  • his love of Anime and Lego,
  • tips on what to do when nothing much ‘seems’ to be happening at a wedding,
  • how he picks images for Story Awards,
  • his childhood growing up in Tuscancy,
  • his love of Art and how he draws inspiration from it,
  • his upcoming talk at Fearless Conference in March,
  • what creativity means to him and tips on how to be more creative,
  • a period of time he’s like to travel to,
  • what he’s afraid of and how that’s linked to why he’s a photographer: Making memories for other people,
  • why it’s so important to him to capture the fun an humour of weddings,
  • how to attract the right couples for you,
  • why he shoots with seconds virtually all the time,
  • his specific tips on how to win a Reportage Award and/or a Story Award,
  • how we don’t need beautiful light or beautiful destinations to find gold,
  • and much, much more…

You can listen to our Fabio Mirulla interview on all the usual mediums: iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube and within this post, where there’s also a full transcript if you prefer to read, too.

Thanks again to everyone who has left us a review – we massively appreciate it! They really help to get these wonderful photographers heard by more and more listeners, so if you have a few moments spare to give us a review and/or rating, we’d massively appreciate it.

Alan Law:                           Hey. Hey, Fabio. Thanks for joining us.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Hello. Nice to meet you, for first, and it’s a great, great pleasure for me.

Alan Law:                           Oh man, it’s an honor for us to have you on it, it really is. It’s so great, yeah, to finally talk to you after all this time. First, I’ve got to start with a massive congrats on winning our overall Photographer of the Year for 2019, man, that’s amazing.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Thank you so much. For me, it’s a great, great honor. I love This is Reportage. The level of the contest is so high and it’s an incredible association, and I’m so, so happy and proud of this.

Alan Law:                           Oh man, that’s awesome. It’s so deserved as well. You did just amazingly. I think it was 17 awards in 2019 with eight Story Awards as well. It is amazing, it really is.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Thank you.

Alan Law:                           I just don’t know how you did it-

Fabio Mirulla:                   Thank you.

Fabio Mirulla

Alan Law:                           How did it feel when you found out you’d won?

Fabio Mirulla:                   When I know this big news, I’m feeling so happy because this is my first important award … Not award, sorry. Achievement. It’s my first big achievement and I tried a lot of time in other association and arrived really, really close to win the POY, but never. And when I discovered this news, oh, I am so happy for this. It’s incredible. It’s an incredible association.

Alan Law:                           Aw man, well, as I say, it’s thoroughly deserved. Your work is outstanding.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Thank you.

Alan Law:                           And I know a lot of our members, because I asked them, later on in this podcast I asked them to suggest some questions for you. So, we’ll get to some of their questions that they’ve posed a bit later on, and a lot of them are wanting to find out really how to become more like you I think and be a better photographer. So, we’ll get to those in a bit.

Alan Law:                           You mentioned there about how you’ve won, and you’ve been in a lot of different associations, you’ve won lots of awards, and you keep winning lots of awards. People would say you’re really at the very top of our industry. What keeps driving you? What keeps pushing you really?

Fabio Mirulla:                   I don’t think about the association when I shoot wedding. I try my best to tell a good story every time. I shoot in my way without limit and without other … I don’t know. I’m myself every time. When the picture are good for the association, it’s okay, it’s perfect, but I don’t think, “Okay, I shoot in this way because I would like to win inside the association or in the contest.” Every time I try my best to tell a good story, and okay, if it’s good for the association it’s better, but it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing for me is shoot and tell a good story and make a good work every time.

Alan Law:                           That’s great.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Especially for the couple.

Alan Law:                           Yeah, sure. Of course, that’s got to be the most important thing, isn’t it? Awesome. I read that you have a degree in archeology which is-

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah, yeah.

Alan Law:                           … a bit different to wedding photography. Yeah, can you tell us about that, how you went from archeology to becoming a wedding photographer?

Fabio Mirulla:                   I studied archeology at the university in Siena. In the same year, I started to be a wedding photographer. It’s strange but are very similar. For me, it’s really important the part of the archeology for my work today, because archeology is experimentation every time. Because it’s not an exact science, archeology is made by a lot of experimentation. Yeah, we try new technology, we try a lot of things.

Fabio Mirulla:                   And my work is the same, wedding photography is so similar. I built a lot of things during my archeology, university studies, and it’s the same. It’s sometimes similar. For example, my final exam in archeology was a guide for photography in archeology. It’s made with a lot of experimentation. It’s a guide for the future archeologist to apply photography during the excavation in the field and to shoot a picture of their archeological things like… Or other thing. Okay. Yeah. It’s this. Sorry.

Alan Law:                           No, that’s okay, that’s-

Fabio Mirulla:                   I’m a disaster.

Alan Law:                           No, of course you’re not. You’re brilliant, man. It’s awesome. I just find that really interesting. You talk about the experimentation in archeology, so is that how you approach your weddings as well, a lot of experimentation with your shots?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes, every time. Every time try to make a different thing. If, for example, I shoot in the same place for a lot of time, I try my best to make a different work every time. Sometime it’s hard, sometime it’s easier. Depends on the situation of course. But every time try my best to have different work in the same situation.

Alan Law:                           That’s cool. I think that’s so important, yeah. You mentioned there as well you started weddings the same year you started doing your archeology degree.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah, yeah.

Alan Law:                           How did you get your very first wedding? Tell us about that.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I started in a simple way. My father had been to the photographer of the town to ask, “Okay, you need an assistant for the season, for the wedding season?” This photographer say, “Yes, of course. Why not?” It started in this way, in a simple way. But I remember perfectly the first wedding. I don’t ever shoot of course at the start. I just start to get some money to continue my career in the university.

Alan Law:                           Right.

Fabio Mirulla:                   When I started, I saw the first wedding, I remember perfectly the situation.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Considering in Tuscany sometime during the summer we have very strange weather, with some cloudy, some sunny, sometime raining, but just a little bit. And the light change in an incredible way. My first wedding has happened a lot of these things. When I saw this for the first time I say, “Okay, wow, this is wedding photography. This is amazing. It’s incredible.” I fell in love with this work and say, “Wow, this is incredible. I would like to be a wedding photographer.”

Fabio Mirulla:                   After the first season I understood perfectly my future, I want be to wedding photographer. I would like to be a wedding photographer. But I say, “Okay, though, I would like to finish my degree in archeology, and later, after, I will open my studio, I will start working in my career myself without other support.” It’s not easy. It’s not easier. But yeah, I am here now and I’m so happy about it.

Fabio Mirulla

Alan Law:                           Well, it’s gone brilliantly for you as well. I mean, obviously it’s gone brilliantly. With your first wedding, did you shoot differently when you started? Did you build your style over lots of weddings, or from your very first wedding did you know how you were going to shoot it?

Fabio Mirulla:                   No, it’s a very, very long way to find myself and my style. Considering when I started to shoot the wedding, my world, or my entire world about wedding photography was made by this photographer. I followed this photographer in every part of the wedding and in every situation. Considering this photographer is a traditional photographer, classic photographer-

Alan Law:                           Oh right.

Fabio Mirulla:                   And my entire world of wedding photographer was this photographer. After some year, after three or four year, I understood an important thing. I understood that photography is the way to express myself. When I understood this thing, okay, wow, it’s opened a world. And considering around 2005, 2004, other photographer, Italian photographer and friend of mine, start to be part of association like WPJA.

Fabio Mirulla:                   And when I saw for the first time the picture of this association I said, “Oh my gosh, it’s incredible. It’s another way to think about wedding photography, and I would like to be a photographer like this.” When I started to change my idea, I think about the reportage. Okay, I would like to be a wedding reportage photographer.

Fabio Mirulla:                   But in the years I changed it a little bit and I understood an important thing. Sometime posed and reportage style are balanced in the same photographer. If you want, you have the possibility to shoot in a way or in another way, because photography don’t have a limit. If you put limit in your photography, probably it’s not good. I prefer express myself in a different way.

Alan Law:                           That’s cool man. Yeah, that’s great, that’s awesome. Cool. Let’s change tack slightly now. Other than wedding photography, what are you passionate about?

Fabio Mirulla:                   A lot of thing. For example, I like reading comics.

Alan Law:                           Oh cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I love comics. Superhero. American superhero. I’m watching a lot of cartoon.

Alan Law:                           Oh cool. Nice.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes. For example, in the winter days when I made the post-production for the weddings, I have the computer in front of me with of course Photoshop open and the second monitor with cartoon.

Alan Law:                           Cool. Well-

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Alan Law:                           What cartoons?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes. A lot of cartoon.

Alan Law:                           Old Looney Tunes ones, old ones?

Fabio Mirulla:                   No. For example, in this period, I love the Anime.

Alan Law:                           Okay.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I’ve started to follow some Anime series, and are so, so good… Japanese Anime of course. Are so good because are good for inspiration, because the inspiration sometime arrived from the stupid things, from the normal things, from the … Yes, for the everyday life thing. And the cartoon are so good for this creation.

Alan Law:                           Wow. That’s cool, man. That’s great. I’ve never watched any Anime. I need to. Like Ghost in the Shell and things.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Oh wow, it’s good. Attack of Titans is incredible, is new Anime, the comics … I think it’s 10 years. Yes, it’s made 10 years ago. Then the Anime is in production now and it’s fantastic. The two season are available for free. I suggest you, if you want.

Alan Law:                           Okay, I’ll check it out, I’ll check it out. I also read that you collect Lego.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Alan Law:                           My son loves Lego. Yeah. How many sets have you got? Do you still play with it or is it more a collecting thing?

Fabio Mirulla:                   I collect. I don’t play, no, because I don’t have time to play with Lego. But no, I’m not a really, really collector. For example, when I love a set, I buy this set but I don’t follow the specific or … It’s like wedding photography, I don’t have rules to collect Lego. If I like something, I buy this. Yeah.

Alan Law:                           How many sets have you got then, do you think?

Fabio Mirulla:                   I don’t have a specific number, but yes, I have a lot. For example, the last one I bought the Mini set, of the Mini, the classic Mini.

Alan Law:                           Oh cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I have a classic Mini. I am-

Alan Law:                           Oh cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   My father restoring car and old car and the old motorcycle. For example, the last set I bought is of a Mini. It’s a Mini, a classic Mini Cooper made by Lego. It’s fantastic, it’s beautiful.

Alan Law:                           So, you’ve got the real thing and the Lego set?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Alan Law:                           Nice.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Fabio Mirulla

Alan Law:                           That’s cool. Right, nice one, that’s cool. Cool. I asked This is Reportage members if they had any questions for you, so I’ve got a few here. I’ll go to one. Andy Li asked, “What advice would you give to photographers who may find themselves at weddings when they’re struggling to find moments to capture? Where it seems like not much is happening. Perhaps it’s a small, intimate wedding, where guests are sitting around chatting on their phones etc., and not very animated? If you find yourself in that situation, how do you challenge yourself to be creative and to think outside of the box?”

Fabio Mirulla:                   Okay. Sometime it’s really hard. It’s really hard to find a good situation to shoot if don’t happen anything. But I think sometime the problem is the photographer, because the weddings are a little world, and sometime it’s incredible. And if don’t happen anything, probably we need to change the point of view or we need to concentrate our vision in another point. If in front of us don’t happen anything, it’s impossible don’t find a new situation or something to shoot in a wedding because is full of situation.

Fabio Mirulla:                   For example, it is incredible to shoot the vendors. When don’t happen anything in front of you, sometime I try to follow the people inside the kitchen because probably happen something inside the kitchen. Sometime the people told me, “But yes, it’s not important to tell this story.” No, it’s a story and it’s good to tell everything. Probably if we have passion for first, and we need to find other point of view and other situation, yes, we need to move.

Alan Law:                           That’s great advice. I think that’s really good, yeah. I think that’s really clever as well to think about the vendors. As you say, it’s all part of their wedding day isn’t it, to capture?

Fabio Mirulla:                   A story within the story. It’s so simple. For me, the ideal story, my ideal wedding is made by a lot of picture and every picture tell a little story. It’s the ideal but it’s sometimes impossible of course. But for my target, yes, my idea about wedding photography is this; try to capture a story inside the story.

Alan Law:                           That’s cool, very cool. And I think you succeed, you really succeed. It leads me to another question actually by another This is Reportage Member. Nuno Lopes asked, “How do you create the story narrative when preparing to deliver the photos, and how do you choose the 20 best photos for contests?” which I assume he means the Story Awards. Do you try to show a story, or only show the best 20 images? How do you approach it?

Fabio Mirulla:                   No. I try to tell a good story. For example, for me, this part of the contest of This is Reportage is really, really important for photographer. Considering sometime in my workshop I suggest to try to tell a story with 20 picture, because for example This is Reportage have the only contest that is important the story and not only the single picture. In the story, when I prepare, for example, to send the story, considering, okay, I follow the rules. The rules are okay, don’t put a posed a picture or follow only the reportage picture. Okay. The rules are okay.

Fabio Mirulla:                   But I try my best to have a good storytelling from the start to the end. It’s not important, the single picture in the story. The single picture is like a piece of … in the Tetris game. It’s the same. It’s like a piece. If it’s good to have a perfect line, it’s okay. If it’s not good, if it does not go in the perfect position, okay, I put off and I will choose another picture. But it’s difficult, but have to focus on the shoot. It’s good for the story. It’s fantastic, it’s a fantastic thing. It’s a good exercise-

Alan Law:                           That’s cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   … for a wedding photographer. Yeah.

Alan Law:                           Oh no, that’s great, man. I think that’s really good advice. I’m going to have the Tetris theme tune in my head now every time I think of the story.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I’m a gamer. I’m a nerd as well.

Alan Law:                           Oh, are you? Do you play a lot of video games, yeah?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes, a lot.

Alan Law:                           Oh cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Considering in my bag, I have a Game Boy Advanced.

Alan Law:                           Oh wow, old-school.

Fabio Mirulla:                   When I have time, but I don’t have time in this period, but when I have time I love to play with my PlayStation. It’s fantastic. I love.

Alan Law:                           It’s good, isn’t it? I love it as well. I’m playing The Witcher on the Nintendo Switch at the moment. That’s brilliant to have with you anywhere.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Alan Law:                           It’s so good. Cool. Tell us about the young Fabio. You grew up in Tuscany, didn’t you, I think? What was your childhood like?

Fabio Mirulla:                   I was born here in Tuscany and I spent my childhood here in a small village in the countryside. Considering I am living at 30 kilometer from Florence, 50 kilometer from Siena, in an incredible place in the countryside, sometime I have the possibility to go in an incredible landscape and it’s fantastic. But considering I don’t have traveled a lot when I was a child, I start to travel now. I live in a small village with simple people, and when I started university I start to see the world in a different way. But yeah, so simple, so, so simple. I don’t know.

Alan Law:                           It sounds nice. It sounds a nice life. As a boy, did you always want to be an archeologist?

Fabio Mirulla:                   No. Probably no. I started to study archeology probably to follow Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. I think no. When I was a child, I think yes, it’s one of the dream work, archeologist, because in Italy we have an important tradition about archeology, about the history of art. I think I wanted to be other, probably a firefighter like a lot of children.

Fabio Mirulla:                   But after when I started the high school, I fall in love with art. For example, my teacher, my art teacher told me, “No, no, don’t start archeology because it’s really hard. It’s different of this kind of school,” my high school. “It’s impossible for you start.” I saw this like a challenge. “Okay, you say no. Okay, I would like to be an archeologist.”

Fabio Mirulla:                   And I start to be in archeology. Archeology is incredible, it’s fantastic. It’s so different like Indiana Jones. We don’t find all the tomb or we don’t go inside at pyramid or find gold, but sometime it’s hard because it’s really, really hard, but it’s beautiful, it’s incredible. Yeah.

Alan Law:                           I can hear your passion for it, it’s great.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Alan Law:                           If you weren’t a wedding photographer now, then would you definitely be pursuing archeology do you think?

Fabio Mirulla:                   I don’t know. Probably yes, but in an anthropologic way. A part of archeology, archeology of the anthropology is really, really nice. And probably yes, yeah, it’s for sure.

Alan Law:                           That’s cool. No, that’s cool. You mentioned just earlier then how you love art, and I think on your website you say you love every kind of it. Art, is that where you draw a lot of inspiration from for your own wedding work, do you think?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes, a lot, a lot. I take inspiration a lot from art. Of course, it’s part of me. Art is a part of me because I love art. I think every people have some passion, something that you like, of course, and you put this in your photography. For example, if you think of the Caravaggio, the using of the light of Caravaggio, Caravaggio is the first photographer. He’s incredible.

Fabio Mirulla:                   If you have the possibility to come here in Italy, in Rome, and you look at a Caravaggio painting inside the church and you see, “Okay, wow, he’s incredible.” He’s a genius, he’s the first photographer for sure, and yes of course he’s a source of inspiration. But I don’t think about wedding photography like art, or I don’t think about art, wedding photography, wedding photographer sorry, like an artist. I think we are creative, but I have a lot of respect for art to say, “Okay, yes, I am an artist.” I am not an artist. I am a creative probably, photographer, yes, for sure, but the art is another thing. Art is incredible.

Alan Law:                           Yeah. That’s cool. No, great. I went to Rome recently actually, last month for my wife’s birthday, and yeah, everywhere is just so beautiful. I just loved Rome, it was amazing. I’ll go back to another question by a TIR member. Soven Amatya has asked, “Are you looking forward to being a speaker at the Fearless Conference in Crete?”

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah, yeah.

Alan Law:                           Do you get nervous about speaking at those kind of things or not?

Fabio Mirulla:                   I think you love my … Yes, I’m so nervous for this. It’s an important conference. It’s like … I don’t know. The speech, I prepared a particular speech for this conference, and I think you like this because I talk about the reportage and the good and the beautiful picture, the difference with a beautiful and a good picture because are so different. Yes, I talk about the reportage.

Alan Law:                           Oh cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I think you like.

Alan Law:                           I like, yeah, that-

Fabio Mirulla:                   Do you think you’ll come in Crete?

Alan Law:                           Oh, I don’t know. I would love to. I would love to. I’ll need to see. Yeah, I need to. Yeah, I’d love to hear you talk. I’ll be able to meet you at … You’re coming to Doc Day in February, aren’t you?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. I’m so excited. I think it’s a good occasion to meet a lot of couple. Sorry, a lot of photographer. Sorry. I’m so excited.

Fabio Mirulla

Alan Law:                           Oh cool. Yeah, that should be good. No, I’d love to go to Fearless as well. We’ll see. I would love to. Another question from a member was from Leonard Walpot, asked, “What does creativity mean to you?”

Fabio Mirulla:                   Okay. It’s really hard to explain this.

Alan Law:                           It is a tricky one.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Sorry?

Alan Law:                           It is a tricky question. It is, yeah.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah. It’s the experiment, the experimentation sometime have mean in this part … Okay. When I have an idea, I try my best to realize this, but I wait. To create sometime a creative picture or a creative idea, I don’t force the situation to create this idea. I wait till the perfect moment, the perfect couple and the perfect light to make this.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Sometime considering I draw the idea in a block notes and it’s strange I know, it’s really, really strange, but it’s part of my way to think. For example, the last year I shoot a picture with a duck balloon, and this idea is born in my mind I think three or four years ago. I draw this idea. I waited a lot of time.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I found the perfect couple to make this picture, because the bride is an engineer, a software engineer, and engineering software you find a particular thing, I think you know, it’s called rubber duck debugging. It’s a way to find a bug inside software, and you repeat the problem, if you have the problem in this coding of this software, at the duck, as this rubber duck to find the problem. When the bride say me, “Okay, I am an engineer, a software engineer,” “Oh, fantastic, I have an idea to shoot an incredible picture. What do you think about this?”

Fabio Mirulla:                   And this bride told me, “Yes, of course, it’s incredible. It’s perfect for us. It’s my picture.” When I made this picture, it’s just for this couple. I don’t repeat it. It’s just for one time.

Alan Law:                           Nice.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I try my best to find another idea, another creative picture for the future. It is hard. It’s really hard sometime because the couple want me sometime for this kind of picture, and every picture is a long process, needs a lot of inspiration. But the inspiration is everywhere. It’s in the stupid things sometime. I told you this thing. Yeah. For example, another time, I shoot an idea after I think five year, and this creation is made by the crosswords. I don’t know if you have in England the-

Alan Law:                           Oh yeah.

Fabio Mirulla:                   … yes, to spend time when you put the letter inside the white box.

Alan Law:                           Oh yes, yes.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah?

Alan Law:                           Crosswords, yeah.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Crosswords, yeah. For example, I found an idea in the crossword magazine.

Alan Law:                           Cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah, it’s really, really strange. The creative process is incredible. The only suggestion is be curious. If you are curious and you have a lot of interests or you like a lot of thing, and you are open, yes, open with a lot of thing, you find inspiration to make the creative picture. If, for example, you are not curious or you think, “Oh yes, I like something,” and stop, no. It’s really hard to find a new thing to be creative. If you are open, it’s easier.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Photography is not only a work, it is a passion. I think if we are wedding photographer, we are wedding photographer for passion. And it’s like to find other point of view, we need to, yes, to be open. It’s this.

Alan Law:                           I think that’s brilliant.

Fabio Mirulla:                   The secret is just this. I think it’s not a secret.

Fabio Mirulla

Alan Law:                           No, that’s great though, Fabio. That’s brilliant, great advice and a great way to look at it. Let’s change tack slightly again. If you had a time machine, what time, past or future, would you like to travel to?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know, but in the 70s, because I like the music, I like the car.

Alan Law:                           Oh cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I like the motorcycle. My father have a passion for old car, for old-time car and restored car, and he brought me to this passion. I love the style of the 70s. Probably, yes, the 70s is the right … And probably in England.

Alan Law:                           Oh really? Yeah.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah. I love English car.

Alan Law:                           Oh cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Mini is my favorite car.

Alan Law:                           Oh okay. Nice, cool. I will let you go back to the 70s. That’s cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Alan Law:                           What are you afraid of in life, if anything? Do you have any fears?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes. Yes. During a workshop, Rocio Vega and Frank Boutonnet come in my studio last year to make a workshop. In a point of the workshop, Rocio say, “Okay guys, think about your fear in your life.” I think about these. I don’t have never think about these before. Okay, I thought about this and I say, “Okay, probably lost memories is the biggest fear.” Because my grandmother, now my grandmother is died, but is died with Alzheimer.

Alan Law:                           Okay.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I followed my grandmother really, really close in the last period of her life, and she lost her memory. Alzheimer’s is terrible for this. Probably my biggest fear is lost my memory. And probably I’m a photographer for this. I don’t know if this is the reason, but it’s important, making memories for the other people, make me happy. Because if I think of a child now and I shoot during the wedding day this child with his grandfather or his grandmother, it’s precious. It’s really, really precious memory. I don’t know if it is a normal thing, but when I think of the future I think, “Okay, I made something, good thing for some people.” I try my best to make memory and don’t lost these for the future.

Alan Law:                           Yeah, that’s so interesting, Fabio. Yeah, I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother there but yeah, I totally get that. That is a scary thing. A great thing that we’re doing I guess as wedding photographers and photographers in giving these memories to people.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes. Sometime we don’t remember this. Sometime when I shoot a wedding, we shoot them for ourself, and we say, “Okay, yes, I shoot because, yes, I have some new material to show to the people because I’m good, because I’m a good photographer and I need to show that I’m a good photographer in front of the other people.” Sometime, we don’t remember about the memories. We make memories. Probably the couple during the wedding day pay us just one time in their life, to have a good service, to have a good photography service. It’s really important we have an incredible work. Okay, we have an incredible job, exactly. Sorry, it’s really hard to explain in English. Sometime it’s really hard to explain myself in-

Alan Law:                           You do brilliantly.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Sorry.

Alan Law:                           You speak English so well, man. You don’t have to apologize. Brilliant.

Fabio Mirulla:                   No, but I need you to edit this interview.

Alan Law:                           Oh no, you’re doing brilliant. It’s so interesting. I’m just back here nodding. You can’t obviously see me nodding but I’m just nodding so much at everything you say, it’s great.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Thank you.

Best documentary wedding photographers in the world - Reportage Award by Fabio Mirulla

Alan Law:                           There’s a real sense of fun in your work I think. Is it important for you, capturing and showing the fun and the humorous side of weddings?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Probably is the first thing. When I’ve made the best to show during the workshop, I saw my picture and in every picture selected, I selected only picture with fun people, with smiling people. I think the playing and the humor is a part of me and is … I don’t know if it’s my style because it’s really hard sometime talk about style or way of work, but I like to show this part in my work. Because I’m in this way, when I think of the picture of the kid that tried to bite the cake before the cutting of the cake (above), or the bride with the bouquet and the horse tried to eat the bouquet, it’s me, it’s a part of me.

Fabio Mirulla:                   For example, I’m this kid. If you see the kid in the picture, I am this kid. I would like to show this because it’s part of me. I think the good photographer show himself in his picture. Photography is in this way. You need to put a part of yourself inside of the photography. For me, the ideal wedding photographer or the ideal photographer, you know the photographer through his picture. You understand perfectly the way of work, the person, not only the picture.

Alan Law:                           That’s so important, isn’t it? I guess everything that you produce, and you’re producing it from the way you see the world and that’s what you love and you’re showing it, I guess then you attract the clients who love that bit about you and the way you see the world, and you get fun-loving clients that way as well?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes. Considering, Alan, I show just the 10% of my work in my website, in my blog, in my social network, it’s an important thing. Because, for example, I show only wedding that I like at 100%. Or I shoot one picture because it represents my style and my way of work in a perfect way. I learned this thing in the past because if you show something and you don’t like this thing, the people call you to have the same thing, and you are not happy about this.

Fabio Mirulla:                   If you show only the thing that represent you at 100% or if you like this picture, and you show only these, the couple come for you. You are not just a photographer, you are necessary, the people chose you because want only you. And sometime people change the date of the wedding because if you are not available for his wedding day, “Okay, perfect, and if I get married the day after or the day before, you are available?” It’s incredible.

Alan Law:                           That is incredible, yeah. That’s such a compliment isn’t it, as well?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah. Yes, yes.

Alan Law:                           Awesome. I think that’s great advice, great advice. I’d like to go to another question from a This is Reportage member. Erica Hawkins has asked … Oh, before I ask this, I’m pretty sure you shoot with second shooters, don’t you, quite often?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes, every time.

Alan Law:                           Every time.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Considering just a service of three, four hour, my first package is a three, four hour service. Tuscany is so famous place and we have a lot of destination wedding, and sometime we have a really, really little wedding. Yes, in this kind of wedding, no, I shoot alone. But in the other service, I would like to shoot every time with a second photographer. Second photographer for me are precious, are really, really important, because I have the possibility to shoot in another point of view.

Fabio Mirulla:                   For example, if during the cutting of the cake, for example, happen something in front of me and I need to change my position, the second photographer cover me in the situation. For creative picture, for example, is important like a God, like a diamond, the second photographer, because if you want to be creative you need to have a good person that help you to cover in all the situation. And you have the possibility, you don’t miss anything. It’s important.

Alan Law:                           Yeah. Totally. Do you shoot every wedding now with a second shooter?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Almost, yes. Yeah, yeah.

Alan Law:                           That’s cool. Yeah, great, I think that’s-

Fabio Mirulla:                   Just in the little, little service or engagement, no. But in the wedding, yes. I prefer shoot every time with the second photographer. And of course the second photographer not just casual people, are people that for first I trusted in the second photographer, because it’s really important. If you lost something because you needed to change point of view, you are sure to have a picture because the second photographer is in the right position. I need to have a good feeling with the second photographer.

Alan Law:                           Right, okay. Do you work with lots of different second photographers, or do you have someone that you work with often?

Fabio Mirulla:                   No, I work with a lot of people. Sometime, for example, during the week, the weekday in Tuscany we shoot a lot of weddings during the weekday. For example, sometime our first photographer are not just like assistant or second photographer, our first photographer with the business and we are friends for first. And sometime, “Okay, you are available for this date, come with me and we shoot together this wedding.” For example, “Next time, I come with you to shoot another wedding.” We have an incredible network here with a good photographer, and for first we are friend and for second we are colleague, and we shoot together.

Alan Law:                           That’s cool, that’s cool. It’s such a friendly scene, isn’t it? The wedding photography industry is generally just so friendly and supportive. It’s great.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah. In this work, I think it’s really important to have a good network and create, yes, a good … Yes. For example, think about the B plan. If you need something because you have an emergency, you have a good network to support you. For example, in this September has happened this thing, not at my wedding but a friend of mine, a very good friend of mine who is a wedding photographer here, called me to shoot this wedding like a second photographer. But this photographer, he lost his father in the same period and don’t have the possibility to shoot the wedding. And I shoot the wedding like first photographer. Yeah. It’s just a good network support. It’s like a real net. If you falling down, the net bring you back up-

Alan Law:                           That’s a great way to look at it, yeah, a real ‘net’-work. That’s great.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Alan Law:                           That’s cool.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Fabio Mirulla

Alan Law:                           I think people would be interested, again as our overall Photographer of the Year, and obviously you’re so successful and so good, but have you made any really memorable mistakes during your photographer career?

Fabio Mirulla:                   I don’t know. Okay. I started to shoot a wedding in 2005, and I don’t understood different way to work. I understand this … Sorry. I understood this after four year. Wedding photography is the way to express myself. And probably I understood this a little bit late. Yeah.

Fabio Mirulla:                   For example, if a new wedding photographer ask me, “Okay, what do you suggest me?” Be yourself. Be yourself. Try to show your point of view, and your point of view probably is totally different to my point of view or the point of view of another photographer. Yes, it’s not easy, it’s not easier at the start, because you need a lot of courage at the start. It’s a very, very hard decision, but that’s important, that’s the point. If you show yourself and you use the photography to express you, probably you find your way.

Alan Law:                           That’s great. Yeah, I think that’s brilliant advice man, really good. I think we’ve got time just for one more question, and I think it’s something that I think people would be really interested to hear from you specifically, again as our Photographer of the Year, and you’ve also been a judge for This is Reportage yourself as well.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yeah.

Alan Law:                           Do you have any specific tips for people submitting to the This is Reportage awards, both for the single images, the Reportage Awards, and the Stories? Do you have any tips and advice for people who want to win one of these awards?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Okay. Probably in the choosing of the picture, of the single picture, I suggest you to look the picture if tell a good story or if are glanced. If, for example, the situation is really hard to understand or the picture don’t communicate in a good way the situation, probably is a good picture but is not easy for a judge to understand the situation in front.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Considering the judge during a session, the judge of the picture, have a very short time to see the single picture, every single picture. If the single picture is not easy to understand, sometime don’t have a lot of possibility to be awarded. If the picture have a good impact, tell a good story, have a good post-production, it’s really important. For example, the possible action part, the black and white or the color. If are made in a good way, probably a judge, okay, say, “Wow, good, it’s good,” and put more attention of this picture. It’s more immediate to understand.

Fabio Mirulla:                   For the Story? For the story probably the storytelling is important. If, for example, you shoot the same picture, shoot from the same point of view, the most common error for me is see a story shot from the same identical point of view. If, for example, you use different lens or you tell the story and you put for example a picture close to the subject, another a little bit more wide or far to the subject or with another point of view, with the subject in a different position, not like the picture after or before, probably the story is strong. If you tell the story from the same point of view, it’s boring, and probably is a good story but is not strong to be awarded.

Alan Law:                           Great advice. Honestly, great advice. And so amazing to hear that from you as our overall winner as well. Thank you so much, Fabio.

Fabio Mirulla:                   You’re welcome. And I have another suggestion. I made an experiment for my workshop. I made an interview, four interview at four photographer, not wedding photographer. I asked, “Okay, what do you think about wedding photography, wedding photographer? What do you think about this?” For example, the photographer don’t have idea about the wedding photographer, the wedding photography world.

Alan Law:                           Okay.

Fabio Mirulla:                   And, for example, it’s incredible, but sometime we have gold in our hands and we don’t have able to see this. Considering one of these photographer have won an award in world press photography, awarded the most important contest for photography, with a project of a wedding photography. And it’s incredible. This man don’t ever shoot any wedding in his life, but have used wedding photography to make a project.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Sometime, when we think, “Okay, this couple is no good, this situation is no good, the weather is bad,” we are able just to see, “Oh no, it’s not good for me,” but probably in this situation we find gold. Because if you want to tell a story, a reportage story, we don’t shoot a beautiful wedding, a beautiful destination wedding in the countryside in Tuscany, we need to shoot a simple wedding, a real wedding, but very, very simple. Sometime, the really real reportage is in this kind of wedding.

Alan Law:                           Yeah, that’s very interesting man, very interesting. Actually, there’s one question I didn’t get to from a TiR member. Simon Leclercq wanted to ask you actually is shooting weddings in beautiful Tuscany, Italy, is it easier compared to other kinds of places? Because you’ve shot all around the world, haven’t you, in all different types of conditions?

Fabio Mirulla:                   Yes, probably in some situation is easier, because in Tuscany we have an incredible landscape. Sometime the light is unique. Considering I have shot in every part of Italy and sometime outside of Europe, the light in Tuscany is only here. It’s incredible. Yes, it is easier for something.

Fabio Mirulla:                   But I understood an important lesson in my career. The beautiful things and the beautiful wedding are not made by the light or the location, are made by the people. For example, I shoot a couple years ago, an incredible wedding with a lot of people, for three days. The couple from Emirates. So rich, so incredible. It’s impossible to describe it because I think it’s impossible to describe this kind of rich people because hats all big, firework everywhere, flower in every place, for three days in the most expensive villa around Florence.

Alan Law:                           Right.

Fabio Mirulla:                   But I found so cold the couple. A really, really cold couple. For example, I shoot the wedding some years ago of a couple with just six person, bride and groom and the parents of the bride and the groom. And it’s one of my favorite wedding, because the people are so kindly … The couple is so kindly, is so warm. It’s different. Sometime it’s not find the beautiful place. The beauty and the beautiful is everywhere. Sometime, we need time to see this, but it’s everywhere. Beautiful people are for first. The place, yes, of course. In Tuscany, something is easier for sure. But it’s not this the most important thing.

Alan Law:                           No, and that’s cool. As you say, it’s all about the people. It really is all about the people. Fabio, mate, I haven’t got any more time. I have to end, but that was … Honestly, thank you so much for your time and tips. Your openness.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Oh you’re welcome. You’re welcome, Alan.

Alan Law:                           That was brilliant man, thank you so much.

Fabio Mirulla:                   You’re welcome. It’s a great, great pleasure for me. And I hope to see all during Doc Day.

Alan Law:                           Yes, I’m really looking forward-

Fabio Mirulla:                   Thank you.

Alan Law:                           … to meeting you in Dublin. It’s going to be very scary for me, with you being in the audience and me speaking.

Fabio Mirulla:                   I think you go in a perfect way. I’m so curious. I’m so, so curious.

Alan Law:                           Oh, it’s going to be good. I’m really looking forward to meeting you in the flesh, I really am. Thank you so much again, Fabio, that was just brilliant.

Fabio Mirulla:                   You’re welcome. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Alan Law:                           Thank you. See you soon.

Fabio Mirulla:                   Bye. Bye Alan. Bye.


Thanks to Fabio for this fab interview!

You can see more of his brilliant work on his website, TiR profile, and all his award-winning images and Stories for 2019 over here.

Interested in joining us here at This is Reportage? Members receive lots of benefits, including 60 Reportage Award and 18 Story Award entries per year, an unlimited number of images on your profile, exclusive discounts/deals on wedding photography-related products/services, invites to our physical meetups/parties, and much more…

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