Wedding of the Year – Third Place

“Everyone is related to Africa; everyone comes from Africa. We are all distant relatives.”

(Damian Marley)

Best Wedding Photographers Competition

At the beginning of March, as every year, I attended the ANFM convention, organized by the National Wedding Photographers, in the sumptuous palazzo Gnudi, in Bologna. I spent there four days with many colleagues and I was very happy and moved to be rewarded as third place in the “Album of the Year” category, by presenting a wedding service to which I’m particularly attached: Luca and Antonella’s wedding in Kenya.

The award ceremony, which took place during the gala dinner, was really an intense and unforgettable moment for me because I was able to present a wedding album that I feel very close to my heart and that reveals an incredible story, a story that began over 20 years ago with a dream, like in the movies.

Once upon a time… I really need to use this formula to introduce the amazing dream of Antonella and Luca, that one day of many years ago took them far away from Italy, to heal their pain of Africa: the immense desire of moving to Kenya! A desire that grew up with Luca as a child, when his father brought him to Africa for the first time, since he used to participate in safari. Luca was only 4 years old when his eyes were filled with the colors, warmth, and magic of the African land and the desire to make this his home, and his world never died, following him for a lifetime! After gaining a degree in economics with a dissertation about sustainable development Kenya, through the protection of wild animals, Luca moved to the green and beautiful Chyulu Hills, in Kenya, at the foot of Kilimanjaro mountain, an area much loved by Ernest Hemingway in person. Thanks to an agreement with the Maasai community, who was guaranteed full freedom and respect, in 1996 he created Campi ya Kanzi, the lodge that Luca and Antonella manage every day with great love, receiving all those who want to fall in love with Africa and enjoy its incomparable beauty. In 2000, with an honorary member as Edward Norton, Luca founded the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, a foundation born to protect the wildlife in the area which offered a new perspective of life and work to the Maasai community, thanks to the opening of schools and a medical center, preserving the full freedom of customs, laws, and traditions of the tribe.

The dream of Luca, however, to be complete, needed the blessing of great love, and even that ingredient is not missed in our fairy-tale: Antonella left her beautiful estate in the Franciacorta area to follow her man and share his dream… a terrific story indeed!

In these past twenty years, Luca, Antonella, and their three children, Lucrezia (Lulu), James, and little Lorenzo, have now become an integral part of the Maasai community: a beautiful and great family! I could observe myself the great relationship of love and respect that binds them during the celebration of their marriage, felt with great participation by the entire community: my pictures speak better than I about this special relationship of trust, friendship, support that make our friend’s true Kenyan people!

The album of Luca and Antonella’s wedding is particular because I gave it a graphic form that recalls the works of Peter Beard. This one, a famous New York artist, has made Africa a privileged subject of his works and is much loved by the couple: I think that this is the best form to frame such precious moments, to convey the smells, colors, magic, and emotions that Africa offers like no other place in the world. I edited this album as a diary too.  It took the form of an intimate and privileged narrative by Lulu, speaking to his grandfather.  Through the images, she manages to tell him (with immense happiness and emotion), the story of her parents, that dream planted by this incredible grandpa, who surely will be happy to see the lush fruits: an immense love, which never ceases to germinate and producing other seeds and other life under the hot African sun.

It is time I leave you to my pictures: you will be able to see the images of unbelievable love and you may imagine being there, like that curious lion that my camera captured among the grasses.