Giovanni Gastel and Alfa Romeo

Cars People

How do you make a beautiful car even more appealing?

Journalists and ‘influencers’ from the nebulous world of social media bunched around a car, with all but the ‘selfie’ brigade focusing their attention on it, isn’t a rarity.

What is less common is the sight of renowned photographer, Giovanni Gastel, directing the scenario. You see, it’s not real. It’s all part of a photoshoot to introduce Alfa Romeo’s Nero Edizione ‘Black Edition’ trim across the Giulia, Stelvio and Giulietta models.

The Nero Edizione introduces fresh design elements to the cars, including dark details on the grille, the tailpipes, and the mirror caps. Tinted rear windows and dark finish alloy wheels help mark out these special editions.

Now, Gastel wasn’t chosen to shoot these Alfa Romeos by accident; his family history puts him in an exceptional position to exemplify Italy through the lens. The photographer is the nephew of Luchino Visconti, who chronicled the foremost icons of his time on film.

This relationship unquestionably influenced the young Gastel, who went on to work with the auction house, Christie’s, in the Seventies. But his leg up came in 1981 when he met Carla Ghiglieri, who became his agent and introduced him to the world of fashion.

Following the publishing of his inaugural still-life in Annabella magazine in 1982, he began working with Vogue Italia and then with Mondo Uomo and Donna magazines. Eventually, his accomplishments led him to become President of the Italian Association of Professional Photographers. But his prominence was cemented in 1997 when the Triennale di Milano offered him a solo exhibition.

Giovanni Gastel’s professional accomplishments went into overdrive in the next decade. His name emerged in publications along with key Italian photographers, such as Gian Paolo Barbieri, Oliviero Toscano and Ferdinando Scianna. Then in 2002, he accepted the Oscar for Photography, and he is now a permanent member of the Polaroid Museum of Chicago.

Gastel’s photographic style is instantly recognisable, just like the Italian manufacturing and design which he has portrayed so well. Alfa Romeo is one of the most revered of all Italian products, with the might of a unique history expressed in the details and traits of today’s models – each car a vibrant, individual motorised creation.

With the Nero Edizione range, the Giulia, Stelvio and Giulietta unite even more technology alongside their dark, compelling exteriors. Indeed, onboard tech is fundamental for any modern driver, but those who select Alfa Romeo tend to demand even more. They want rousing engineering to be mirrored not only in driving enjoyment but also in connectivity, safety and eye-catching looks.

It takes a shrewd, perceptive eye used to thinking unconventionally to show all the riches these Alfas offer. The photoshoot in which Gastel interprets the new Nero Edizione models takes precisely that approach.

The photographer has emphasised the Nero Edizione range’s characteristics, using his compositional talent to contrast different worlds, always with panache and his ideal of sophistication. What’s more, the shoot was all done in Milan, the hometown of both Alfa Romeo and Gastel, perhaps underlining the city’s character as the capital of innovation and style.