Cualiti is a dynamic photo studio based in Valencia. Specialising in product, interior, fashion, and advertising photography, the studio is thoroughly versed in post-production editing and art direction.
Cualiti Photo Studio worked with LZF on the award-winning 2016 ‘Telling Tales’ communication campaign. The studio has since directed several photo shoots for LZF, including the recent ‘Naturally Divine’ series.
We asked David Rodriguez and Carlos Huecas of Cualiti about how it all began.
How did you meet LZF?
LZF originally contacted Cualiti Photo Studio to retouch some existing photographs of the iconic life-size Koi, showing faithfully their own colour and texture. They then asked us to photograph the LZF stand at Euroluce 2015 in Milan.
Photographing illuminated lighting products is one of the most complex areas of our profession. Happy with the results we delivered, LZF then continued working with us on new projects. We were thrilled about this because every LZF project is a new challenge and something we love.
Can you describe how the idea for ‘Telling Tales’ came about?
From the outset, Mariví Calvo (LZF’s Creative Director) did not want to simply take pretty pictures of the lamps. She believed a good option was to frame them within a background story. Based on the works of the American realist artist Edward Hopper, ‘Telling Tales’ was inspired by his atmospheric use of colour and scenes set in the 1950s.
Realising this project was not an easy task: we had to learn many new techniques, both in lighting the scenes and in the post-production. We accessed YouTube tutorials and books on colour theory, and researched the working methods of some well-known photographers from across the world. We didn’t have a portfolio that met the needs of such a large project, and we carried out several tests at LZF’s facilities to prove we could undertake a project of this magnitude.
‘Telling Tales’ was our first big project. The best thing wasn’t that we were chosen to manage it, along with the many resources and professionals made available. It was actually the effect it had—the project gave us a lot of visibility, to the extreme that we were often seen as the photographers of LZF, not Cualiti Photo Studio. To be recognised for your creative work is a very special feeling for us.
LZF has been a part of our portfolio since then—a ‘letter of introduction’ so to speak, that has opened many doors for Cualiti.
Cualiti’s work is synonymous with vibrant colour. What is the appeal of colour?
Colour is one of the most important aspects of an image. We strive to keep abreast of the latest colour trends, soaking up ideas from the world of fashion, Pantone’s ‘Colour of the Year, and tips from trend guru Gudy Herder (among others). By doing so, we can apply the right colour combination to each of our photographs.
Can you describe the essence of photography at Cualiti Photo Studio?
For us, the essence of Cualiti is in a job well done. It is about the satisfaction of our clients, and the customisation and flexibility we bring to each project. We always offer the highest quality, both in photographic production and post-production. Many clients call it ‘the magic of Cualiti’.
Your work with LZF is especially vivid—‘Life Size Dreams’ is a wonderful example. What is the inspiration behind this approach?
One of the most important aspects of this project was that the images should connect with the viewer, enveloping them and transporting them into the dream. For this reason, from shooting to retouching, we tried to give each image a dreamlike atmosphere. We introduced mysterious forests to the window views from Palau de Noia (the venue in which the photographs were taken), made curtains that created the sensation of a soft breeze, and even a hurricane wind that caused musical scores to fly.
We wanted to achieve a sense of illusion and reverie, by playing with contrasts and depths as well as some tricks that we can’t reveal (so adding to the aura of mystery). We worked with people who are expert at creating visual fantasies, including Ana Milena of Masquespacio and Rocío Pastor (who decorated the Tim Burton-style fairytale table under the Koi lamp).
‘Life-Size Dreams’ and ‘Telling Tales’ are photo shoots that we remember with great affection. They were long and intense, but extremely rewarding.
What inspired the concept for ‘Naturally Divine’?
It started with the photographs we took during the Covid-19 pandemic to promote ‘tell us your tale’. This competition, organised by LZF, asked people confined at home during national lockdowns to take a photo with an LZF lamp (real or printed) and show how they were dealing with the pandemic. Seeing what Cualiti was capable of creating with just a few resources, Mariví Calvo and Sandro Tothill (LZF’s co-founders) proposed that we make a personal project of four scenes with absolute creative freedom.
For this project, with the collaboration of Cristina Hernández and Carlos García, designers and art directors. We developed an editorial based on the current climate in which we live, where our senses are overloaded with stimuli, and are tired, sometimes even diminished or numb, as a result. This exhaustion causes more and more people to try and connect with emotion—despite living in a society that is dominated by reason and science, both instinct and intuition are beginning to regain an important role in our lives.
‘Naturally Divine’ arises from the desire to represent the divine and supernatural from a contemporary perspective. It blurs the boundaries of perfection and absolute beauty. We seek to awaken curiosity and fascination for the spiritual by employing an editorial language where LZF’s lamps are the protagonists of each scene—the lamps have an intrinsic meaning and are not relegated to mere decorative elements.
We generated a parallel universe of surrealism or magical realism, filled with symbolism, light, and emotion. These are represented by elements of nature, texture, and symbolism, combined with a disruptive and modern style.
Stay tuned for a new set of ‘Naturally Divine’ images.