Every curtain has two sides: on the one there is illusion, perfection, a precise look, on the other authenticity and reality. Tired eyes, grimaces, curlers – Stefano Guindani’s glimpse behind the scenes reveals the world of modelling, not from the fashion perspective but as a profession. He often shows models hurrying from the catwalk entrance back to their dressing rooms, to their safe havens – like butterflies trying to flutter back into their cocoons. For his shoots behind the scenes at Milan’s 2015 Fashion Week he used the Leica SL. He talks about the process of learning and the experience he has made with the camera.
Q: What were your personal impressions of this Milan Fashion Week?
The event is getting bigger and more frantic every year, making it more and more difficult to follow. Less days and more shows: it means you need a perfect organization to make everything run smoothly…
Q: Why is it necessary to shoot behind the scenes?
Backstage shots are increasingly important. Both commercially, because make-up brands need the images to position their products, and for the media who want to show the attention, care and passion with which these shows are put together. And let’s not forget a certain voyeurism, the curiosity of looking at something others can’t see, being able to ‘feel’ the excitement, the energy of the show. Shooting ‘behind the scenes’ is fundamental to get pictures that are really genuine. Models are so used to photographers that if they notice you they instinctively react and pose, making the pictures artificial. That’s why I also carry a Leica Q with me backstage – it helps me to be even less conspicuous when I need it.
Q: Is there something you learn while you’re shooting?
I always learn something while shooting: how to behave, how to present myself, what to take and what to give. Moreover, I learn how to communicate. With my face, with my voice, with my body. I learn how to go beyond the camera that separates me from my subjects.

Q: For this edition of Fashion Week you used the new Leica SL, with ISO up to 6400. What was it like? How important for your photography is a high ISO?
Impressive. Results at ISO 3200 and even 6400 were far beyond my expectations, both in terms of noise and resolution and especially tone balance. Being able to choose my preferred shutter speeds and apertures despite light situations is great; and getting the best quality without needing to use the flash allows me to be less intrusive and to get more spontaneous shots.
Q: The auto focus of the new SL is supposed to be the fastest available. What was your experience with it?
I was working with a pre-series camera, but I can say that it was really fast, also in poor light conditions. The tracking capability to keep a moving subject in focus was also excellent.
Q: What can you say about the lens?
I used the 24–90 zoom, a truly professional workhorse. It’s not light – you can feel how much glass and metal there is inside –, so it feels a little unbalanced on the camera, but I think this will be solved using the additional grip. The quality is astonishing. I’ve never seen anything like that in any other full frame camera. The only competition is the Leica S that I use regularly for studio sessions. It’s not only a matter of sharpness: depth, plasticity, tonal balance, you can see they are different. I’m now eager to test the M lenses on the SL, the Noctilux in particular…
Q: How about the colours?
Fashion show locations are critical in terms of lightning, due to the different types of light sources and colour temperature. The SL performed very well, with only minor adjustments needed in post processing. I found the rendition of skin tones, which is fundamental for my job, particularly good. Also the black and white that you can get with it is amazing – something I already appreciate with the Leica Q.
Q: How do you find the Leica SL image quality compared to other cameras you’re using?
The image quality is of the highest order and, as far as I’m concerned, the performance (AF speed, shooting burst, capacity of the buffer, ISO) is the best I’ve experienced with full frame cameras; but what really sold me about Leica is the service I received – I’m referring to the Italian subsidiary – when I started using the Leica S. I encountered a real commitment to help me overcome any problems and make my learning curve with the then new system easier.
Q: The electronic view finder is huge – how important is that to you?
I was used to optical finders for a long time, and adapting to the electronic finder was probably the hardest thing. That said, it’s really big and its fast refresh rate makes it almost comparable to an optical view finder.
To find our more about Stefano Guindani’s work, please visit his website, follow him on Instagram or Facebook.