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Portraits of ALMA award recipients in Bologna

Banco-del-Libro_Astrid-Lindgren-Memorial-Award-reciepient. Photographer Stefan Tell

Last week as was in Bologna, Italy, on an assignment for The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA). My job was to cover the announcement of the winner, photograph and deliver press photos from the book fair and generally supply my client with photos from different events during my two days in the city for their image bank.

As this was the tenth anniversary of the prize, some of the earlier recipients were at the fair to celebrate. During a hectic schedule I managed to take a couple of minutes with each of them, to get good up-to date portraits my client can use.

The woman in the first photo is from the Banco del Libro (2007), a non-profit institution headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela. We didn’t speak much, I just guided her to a glass door facing north with a lot of light coming in indirectly. Maybe the easiest way to get a natural portrait.

Ryoji-Arai_Astrid-Lindgren-Memorial-Award-reciepient. Photographer Stefan Tell

Next was the japanese illustrator Ryôji Arai, he had a translator with him for interviews, but we managed to get good portraits just using gestures and talking to each other without understanding the words. A bit like in the movie Ghost Dog, and it worked great. He won the prize in 2005 together with Philip Pullman, but unfortunately he wasn’t there.

Kitty-Crowther_Astrid-Lindgren-Memorial-Award-reciepient. Photographer Stefan Tell

Kitty Crowther is one of the winners since I started working for ALMA, I have taken a lot of beautiful portraits of her when she visited Sweden 2010 for the award ceremony. I took her portrait inside of the halls, with her back at the windows high up and facing a large white wall that worked as some kind of reflector. Not the window light I got near the door, but worked just fine.

Lygia-Bojunga_Astrid-Lindgren-Memorial-Award-reciepient. Photographer Stefan Tell

Lygia Bojunga won the award in 2004 and has a face that really liked the light from that glass door. There is something I like a lot in portraits where all the features are chiseled out so you really can see the texture of the skin, wrinkles and all.

Katherine-Paterson_Astrid-Lindgren-Memorial-Award-reciepient. Photographer Stefan Tell

I wish I had found the spot near that glass door before I got to take Katherine Paterson’s portrait, but this turned out good anyway. We just found a spot inside the fair and I had her turning away from the window light a bit. The black and white version is good, but the mixed light and a very red carpet made the colour version pretty hardo to get right.

Tamer-Institute_Astrid-Lindgren-Memorial-Award-reciepient. Photographer Stefan Tell

The Tamer Institute had one of their representatives at the fair, and here she is. They recieved the award the first year I worked as ALMA’s photographer in 2009.

Sonya-Hartnett_Astrid-Lindgren-Memorial-Award-reciepient. Photographer Stefan Tell

Sonya Hartnett’s portrait was taken in the same hall as Kitty’s and Katherine’s, but in some way the light didn’t really work out as I had planned. I think it would have been a lot better if I could have taken it near that fantastic door, but I found that later.

All the previous winners were interviewed on video during one of the days, and I stayed close so I could ask them for a few more minutes. They have all a busy schedule during the fair, so I didn’t want to take too much of their time. But for this last one, I should have tried another location just to get it really right.

But, that is the problem with natural light, a location that has perfect light before lunch can be the worst place an hour later. But I knew that already, just forgot it at a bad moment.

A nice city by the way, Bologna, even if I had very little time to actually see more of the place than I did last year. Hopefully I will return in 2013 when Sweden also will have a big exhibition at the fair, maybe the will need a photographer?

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