The Beauty of Extreme

Caspian Sea | 2017


Shoot and produce the official photobook for a large oil field in Kazakhstan.


Agip Kazakhstan.


To let Kashagan’s employees see their oil field in a new way.

The Extreme Challenge

The Kashagan field is an offshore oil field in the middle of the Caspian Sea. It’s one of the largest oil megaprojects in the world (CNN claims it cost over 100 billion dollars – more than the first trip to the moon). Such high-yield oil sites like the Kashagan fieldare rarely subjects to be photographed. It consists of a huge infrastructure, designed to be as functional as possible, featuring  few  or no aesthetic qualities.  We considered it was one of our biggest challenges..

Everything was so rough, we knew right away that that was where its beauty lay.

Giorgio Scala

Discovering its beauty meant we had to find  our own way of looking at it. . The shooting conditions were extreme, torrid  in the summer, brutally cold and windy in the winter. Before we left our headquarters in Rome, we needed to meet and review our collective technical and creative skills. For example how could we be assured of manual dexterity when shooting with two pairs of gloves? Giorgio had the idea of using horseback-riding gloves. How do you shoot from extremely overhead when drones won’t work in that environment?  We used kites with gopros! Thinking that we had covered every major possible exigency, when we arrived at the site, we found ourselves in the middle of one of the most extreme places in the world, an unbelievably  harsh environment. There were workers on 40m high towers, using dirt and mud as a lubricant. In fact, everything was so  rough that we knew that beauty lay in the  harsh ruggedness of the place. So we  focused  on that  wild side, emphasizing the striking surroundings and the human presence in the field, to express the essence of one of the most extreme places on planet earth.

The Heavy Result

A 5 kilos, 40×27, 400 pages book, in editions of 60.000 copies (30000 in English and 30000 in Kazakh), distributed to anyone who had ever worked there. A result just as majestic as Kashagan’s project.

Our final product was a five kilo, 40x27cm, 400 page book, in an edition of 60,00 (30,000 in English and 30,000 in Kazakh), distributed to anyone who had ever worked there.

The result, in its own way, was just as majestic as the Kashagan project.

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