Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Infernal Lords XXIX: Belial

I’ve been trying to participate in masquerades:
The throne’s been empty for too long.
Paradise for those who play along
And the fortunate ones.

I’ve been begging for the public eye, now watch me fly:
Can you see what I’ve become?

[ Fate – Tristania ]
Belial by GothicNarcissusDuke Belial is one of the best known and politically prominent figures of Hell. Ironically enough, he was the Chief of Virtues while in Heaven, but has since become one of the most infamous Demons of all time, his deeds being a legend even in Hell itself. Long before the Great Heavenly War began, he openly defied Yahweh’s laws and orchestrated many schemes with his Second-in-Command, Princess Lilith, recruiting Angels to Emperor Lucifer’s cause and even acting as a decoy – convincingly pretending he was the one organising the sedition so that the Supreme Angel could work undisturbed. After his Fall he styled himself the Lord of Deceit and has now turned into one of the Seven Satans of the First-Level as the Demon of Pride. He’s the best liar the world has ever known, even greater than Countess Jezebeth herself, who’s part of his retinue.
Due to the Sin he embodies, he’s a great connoisseur of Yahweh and his ways, and has proved his value with countless acts, ranging from petty to grand, to peeve his rather quick temper, most often using mankind while remaining in the shadows himself. To name a few, he plotted together with Queen Barbelo and Marquis Leviathan to create the Tree of Knowledge drama in Eden, taught mankind the pleasures of fineries and embellishment, suggested that they build the Tower of Babel, caused the Midianites idolatry incident, inspired the crafting of the Golden Calf with gold he stole from Count Mammon’s own reservoir, inspired countless other cases of idolatry throughout history and planned hundreds of other ploys. But his true masterpiece was the Sodom and Gomorrah conspiracy, which he made up all by himself: he deceived the inhabitants of the two cities into abandoning any kind of morals to test the depth Yaweh’s creation could reach, watching them indulge in such depravity that even Pandemonium itself had never seen, and staining the Earth so deeply and beyond redemption that his name became a legend and no creature in Heaven or Hell is said not to know it. He receives countless (and mostly incorrect) mentions in mankind’s texts, which often identify him as “the” Satan.
Belial is the most elegant and sophisticated Demon of the Court, regarded as the Arbiter Elegantiarum of Pandemonium. This makes him a rival of Marquis Adramelech, whom Duke Belial enjoys teasing and ridiculing whenever he gets the occasion, especially in public or in front of Emperor Lucifer; the two even struggled for the position as the Satan of Pride, but Duke Belial easily overcame his rival. He also secured a position as an Astral Demon, mastering the astrological influence of Jupiter.
Many courters turn to him for matters of etiquette, and he’s always the one to write important speeches for others and lead the most sophisticated celebrations. The Demons of Arts work under his close direction and he takes a particular liking to Count Kobal due to their sharing of a quick wit and sharp tongue. Among others, he greatly enjoys the company of Princess Lilith and her sister, Marquise Naamah, as well as that of the debauched Marquis Rosiel. Marquise Decarabia is also part of his retinue, as she often turns to him for advice about floral decoration at Court, and he’s one of the few secret-keepers of Duke Xaphan’s affair with Queen Barbelo. He’s a good comrades with Count Asmodeus, whom he often works with on Earth, but his best friend is definitely Duke Astaroth, mainly due to the latter’s indolent love of vain things as a mean of wasting time and their shared interest in the most material pleasures of life.

Belial: development and symbolysm

Credits:
Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design: GothicNarcissus Photography
Model, hair, make up: Antonio Grimaldi
Styling: GothicNarcissus Photography and Antonio Grimaldi
Additional resources: Meltys-Stock (wings), Myruso (wallpaper)

While he was among the first Demons I decided to include in the project, there’s a special reason why I left Belial as the last Infernal Lord in the series except for Lucifer: he’s one of my favourite Demons.
Okay, not exactly: the real reason is it had as troubled a history as Rosiel’s, much to my dismay. But one of my favourites he is indeed and, at long last, here he comes.
Belial from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary.
Belial from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary.
Like many of the most prominent Demons, I came across Belial – you guess it – from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary. One of the most intriguing and best written characters in the manga, Belial kicked ass, jump-started some of my favourite plotlines, completely blurred gender binarism and provided some of the best lines in the manga. Of course, when I started planning a series about Demons, he was one of my top-priority researches.
Contrary to most Demons, there’s so much information about Belial that I didn’t even know where to begin when building his character. According to the most accepted etymology, the name means “worthless” and is a term which occurs a few times in the Old Testament. It’s not related to a specific entity, though, but only used to denote sinful people in the idiomatic phrase “sons of belial”.
The first instance of Belial as a being comes from the later Dead Sea Scrolls, which depict him as an “angel of darkness”, often citing him as the Prince of Darkness himself. Other texts, such as the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs or the Ascension of Isaiah also identify Belial as Satan, or generally as a messenger of darkness who’s opposed to Yahweh.
The New Testament mostly omits the term altogether, and Belial is only named by Paul of Tarsus as an enemy of Jesus; in the apocryphal Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Bartholomew, he’s one of the Angels cast out of Heaven. The concept of Belial as a being rather than a concept was thus solidified, but it’s not until the later esoteric grimoires that he starts to be fully sketched out as a Demon of his own.
Belial summoned with his lieutenant by King Solomon, author unknown.
Belial summoned with his lieutenant by King Solomon, author unknown.
Modern depiction of Belial as described in the Lesser Key Of Solomon.
Sebastian Michaelis calls him Belias, identifies him as the former Prince of Virtues and links him to arrogance, vanity and wantonness. While conspicuously absent from Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, he appears in both the Lesser Key Of Solomon and the Book of Abramelin as a particularly high-ranking figure, and one of the few to retain an angelic form when summoned.
So, having to cherrypick from all this information, I first wrote down what would fit my own canon (fallen Angel, former Virtue, Demon of Pride) and then decided work his being identified as “the” Devil by having him being so infamous that mankind incorrectly calls him that. I also decided to make him the grey eminence behind the most infamous cases of pride and idolatry from the Bible, and shot out to Kaori Yuki’s character linking him to the Sodom and Gomorrah incident.
Belial from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary.
Belial from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary.
You might notice that, overall, the final photo has more of an old-school, goth vibe compared to the later works in the series: that’s because I came up with the general idea basically on day one of the project, back in 2009, when I was rocking guyliner and leather cuffs in my everyday life. Coming up with the visuals for the Demon of Pride and Vanity was rather easy; like Astaroth, Kaori Yuki’s version of the character was strongly influential, especially the very fitting illustration above. I immediately opted for butterfly wings rather than feathered ones because butterflies often symbolise vanity, and because that would immediately make Belial stand out from the other Demons (I hadn’t come up with Xaphan and Decarabia yet, so lepidoptera-winged Belial was unique back then). I also wanted him to be fancily dressed in black to emphasise the Sin he represents and I was adamant that he’d have a large-brimmed hat both as a direct shot out to Belial’s Mad Hatter persona in Angel Sanctuary and because it would make a sort of visual black halo around his head, underlining his very prestigious rank.
I’m not sure how much make up my original idea  had, but I think at some point I considered something quite heavy, but not quite as clownesque as Kaori Yuki’s; anyway, that’s one of the parts that got toned down the most once I started drifting away from strict gothic fashion, as having a black-clad figure on a purple background with heavy eye make up would be beyond cliché nowadays. One thing that was clear from day one was the theme colour, purple, which is widely associated with pride and vanity, as well as royalty. Being in the Lesser Key of Solomon, Belial already ha his own seal, so I didn’t have to come up with one of my own.
With all the basics in place, the background half-ready and a quick characterisation to eventually expand upon, all I had to do was cast the role and shoot it… which is where things got spectacularly derailed.

I’ve mentioned that Belial’s history was very similar to Rosiel’s in that, without going too much into detail, I initially cast one of my best friends due to our shared love for Kaori Yuki’s character, some inside jokes that doubled as shot outs, and so on. For the first few years, we had some geographic difficulties that prevented us from shooting (which is hilarious in hindsight, considering I ended up shooting it in Naples anyway), but I didn’t really mind because I was shooting Demons left, right and centre so Belial could wait, even if it was one of my favourites; then my friend moved closer, but things kept coming up from both sides and we never really got down to organising the shooting. By 2016, after seven years of project, there were only Rosiel, Belial and the still uncast Lucifer to go, and it was high time to do something about that. While I was recasting Rosiel out of sheer frustration, I decided to face the fact that I stopped pushed the matter with Belial because I’d had second thoughts for a while. So I took a deep breath, talked to my friend, bailed out and recast the role altogether.
Belial draft from early 2016.
By that time, I had long since realised that my friend Antonio Grimaldi was physically the closest a person could get to my idea of Belial. I’d been following his work for a while on social media and he was very pretty, always stylish and had that intensity I wanted my character to have. Once I had settled the matter with my other friend, Antonio and I had some preliminary talks (I did the sketch above to show him my basic idea), he agreed to take part in the project and we started organising the actual shooting. The idea was to meet more or less midway in Rome, and we scheduled a shooting in November 2016, when I had to go there for an unrelated event. The meeting fell through almost last minute due to things coming up from the both of us and then… well, then 2017 happened.
Long story short, 2017 wasn’t my best year in the mental health department. There were a lot of things at play then: on the one hand, I had had so many setbacks for the whole span of the Infernal Lords project that I was hald-willing to give it up altogether. Then, to shoot Belial specifically I had to ask my friend Ginevra for hospitality in Rome and I really felt uncomfortable in forcing my presence on someone; and I had to find a weekend when both she and Antonio were available. Also, I was intimidated by Antonio: I mean, just look at him – he’s modelling agency material, who the hell did I think I was to ask him to model for me? And I had grown a bit uncomfortable in sharing my ideas on such a controversial theme with “normies” out there, lest they thought I was the mess I actually am – read, I had become so insicure that I was doubting my vision. So I just projected my insecurities into thinking Antonio had somehow changed his mind and didn’t know how to tell me, or something like that, when there was no indication of that aside from both of us not being great at keeping in touch on the internet.
It took me one more year and a half, lots of reassurance from Ginevra that I wasn’t an unwanted guest, a session with my therapist and a couple of tarot readings to finally get me to pick a weekend, write to everybody and organise the set. And given my luck with the rest of the project, I was a total train wreck for the two weeks leading up to the trip because I was expecting anything to go wrong and dreading to get yet another disappointment. I literally refused to get my hopes up until the moment I was in Naples with Antonio.

Turns out my worries were totally pointless, of course: first because Antonio is, like, the sweetest cinnamon roll ever and a very lovely person to talk and hang around with; second because, as soon as I reminded him of what wacky project I was going to have him pose for, he almost got more enthusiastic than me.
Contrary to my usual method, we warmed up with a few random shots before we came down to Belial and the best thing about Antonio is just how ridiculously photogenic he is: I’m not kidding, he’s Vogue Hommes material. He’s able to look effortlessly intense, striking a dramatic pose with a brooding expression and still looking like he’s not even trying, like he’s always like that and I just caught him thinking of something else. By the time we got to shooting the Demon, I was so impressed by his work that I just gave him free rein with the pose, other than the hand gesture, and the result is exactly what Belial should look like: vaguely mysterious, effortlessly sophisticated, naturally elegant, the testimonial for the Antichrist Couture on Vogue Pandemonium.
I’m not kidding or overstating: the moment I saw that photo in my camera LCD, suddenly it was all worth it. All the wait and the year-and-a-half postponement and the worries and doubts, and the stress I made up and inflicted upon myself in the few weeks leading up to it. That’s the way I always wanted Belial to look, straight out of my head.

And so, here we are. I have changed the theme song for this work a bagillion times until I settled on Fate by Tristania because it fits pretty well the character. That said, the work is out and the Demon of Pride might be one of the ones I’m the proudest of. It’s the beginning of the end of the Infernal Lords and I’m glad it’s on such a high note. I’ll do my best to top that with Lucifer, when I’ll finally get down to him as well.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Big Boys, They Need To Cry (Wings)

Big Boys, They Need To Cry (Wings) by GothicNarcissusYou’ve been suffering,
Hiding your pain.
Unshed tears on the edge,
“Just water under the bridge”, you say.

Is it too late
To make myself a safe place?
I could not see
The dangers, the sacrifices
You were making.

Hurt you, hurt me,
Hurt you. Never meant to
Hurt you, hurt me.
I need to make myself a safe place
For you to cry, baby,
‘Cause sometimes
Big boys, they need to cry.

So we built you some wings
To help you to flee
From your demanding
Dark angel and me.

Is it too late
To make myself a safe place?
I went too far
When we flew too close
To our star.

It hurt you, hurt me,
Hurt you. Never meant to
Hurt you, hurt me.
I need to make myself a safe place
For you to cry, baby,
To cry, baby,
‘Cause sometimes
Big boys, they need to cry.
‘Cause sometimes
Big boys, they need to cry.

[ Wings – Tori Amos ]

I feel like I should spend a few words on this photo, if only for how much work it took me and what satisfaction it brought me in the end.

So, Tori Amos’ latest album, Native Invader, flooded my mind with images, one of which is this one. I didn’t really sit down and think like I often do, I just visualised something and decided to go for it. This is why I didn’t really consider the whole metaphor in the lyrics when I came up with this image: what really got me about this song is the part about big boys needing to cry, i.e. get in touch with their emotions and fragility, which I find a very important message nowadays. Also, I liked the idea of trying to become someone’s safe place even if there’s been some disagreement and mutual hurting: it’s never too late to turn around and mend a relationship.
This is pretty much what inspired me: the eponymous wings are not attached to the protagonist so he can fly away as in the lyrics, but to the narrator, laid down as a shelter of sort so the protagonist can let himself feel fragile. It was a compelling image but I really didn’t know how to pull it off: nine years of Infernal Lords have taught me how difficult it is to find realistic wings for shooting, unless I turn to full-blown digital art.

And that’s pretty much what I did: instead of having actual wings, in real life or added digitally, I decided to draw them as if I were drawing on a photo with markers.
I came up with this idea while listening to another couple of songs: first came Bang and then Climb. I envisioned both as photograph-drawing hybrids, and then I felt like Reindeer King and Wildwood could work in a similar style, too. So why not Wings? So next thing I knew, I had a little series of visually homogenous works ready to be done.

I’ll be honest: this was a very difficult image to pull off. Not the photo per se which, once I did some location scouting, was one of the smoothest self-portraits I ever took, but the post-production was massive. I honestly didn’t even know if I was skilled enough to do it, as drawing is not my strongest suit. It took me three solid evening of work and I’m sure that someone with more practice with a graphic tablet would have done it in half the time and a tenth of the effort, but having drawn something that actually looks good, blends with the photo and is exactly what I envisioned is a massive self-confidence fix. Perhaps I really am capable of doing more than I think and am just too scared to try out!

Now, before this turns into the billionth unfinished long-term project, I’m not really making big plans about it. I’m not even going to do the whole album as some songs I really don’t like, or they just don’t speak to me. I’m just taking it as it is and doing what I can when I can.
On a side note about the title: Wings is going to be a work in my Inspiration Hurts series, so I decided to keep that as a subtitle while using the line that caught my attention as the main one. This is also going to happen if I decide to take the other photos I have in mind.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Pi

Pi by GothicNarcissusTemporary like a prism,
Being involved and being ignored.
But your broken glass charisma
Is my one and only source.

Circularly, you remember
Maybe you or me or both.
Sorry you, sorry me,
Proudly fail, resume indoors.

Distance closes our throat.
Be so sweet can’t replace.
Miles unconnectable,
Time is improvable.
Contradictions you say,
We’re so ignorable,
So your static, empty words
Just wish a syllable.

Our bodies are paralysing us,
Selling our souls otherwise.
Feed crippled mind and fertilise,
Selling our souls otherwise.
Our bodies are paralysing us,
Selling our souls otherwise.
Feed crippled mind and fertilise,
Selling our souls otherwise.

Free our horses, my pretender,
Don’t you let them go astray.
Colours flash, the only minded.
Colours… fade.

Distance closes our throat.
Be so sweet can’t replace.
Miles unconnectable,
Time is improvable.
Contradictions you say,
We’re so ignorable,
So your static, empty words
Just wish a syllable.

Our bodies are paralysing us,
Selling our souls otherwise.
Feed crippled mind and fertilise,
Selling our souls otherwise.

Step into pain circles,
Enter the whispering.
Wash out your construction,
Fragments of rain.

Our bodies are paralysing us,
Selling our souls otherwise.
Feed crippled mind and fertilise,
Selling our souls otherwise.

[ Pi – Leandra ]

Pi has always been a tricky one in my Morphine project: while I absolutely love this song, the lyrics are quite abstract and all over the place with their imagery. I could pinpoint the general theme – working out a difficult romantic relationship – but it didn’t give me much to work with visually.
The music, on the other hand, has always evoked me a dynamic image of a couple somewhere in-between a dance and a fight: something coreographic that could encompass both a feeling of separation and an attempt at reconciliation.
With so little in mind, I sort of shelved the song to the back of the project to focus on more approachable concepts… until this happened.

Basically, when I had my nice shooting with Knajfer Wintermere and his handsome real-life boyfriend Riccardo, I mostly allowed them the freedom to just act naturally in front of the camera and be the beautiful couple they are. At some point I attempted to set up another Morphine photo which didn’t really work out, got frustrated over that and just let them fool around a little on their own. When I focussed back, there they were: Riccardo is a very atletic boy and was doing splits for the fun of it with Knajfer. There was just something about the intensity of their gaze that hit me in the face with all the power of the piano riff in the second half of the song, and I instantly knew this was what I wanted Pi to look like in my project. There, out of the music itself.
The prism / icosahedron was a last-minute postproduction idea I had to give a further link to the song lyrics and because sketches surrealy overimposed on the photos are a recurring theme of sort in the project.

And so, that’s it: Knajfer and Riccardo basically pulled me over a potentially huge hitch in my project just by being an adorable couple. Which is precisely the reason why I’m saving so many photos for people who truly have feelings for each other: some things you cannot act, they have to come from the heart.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Surrender

Surrender by GothicNarcissusSurrender, surrender, oh.
Surrender, surrender, oh.
Surrender, surrender, oh.
Surrender, surrender, oh.
Give me that sweet
Surrender, surrender, oh.
Give me that sweet
Surrender, surrender, oh.
Give me that sweet
Surrender, surrender, oh.
Give me that sweet
Surrender, surrender, oh.
Give me that sweet
Surrender, surrender, oh.
I’ll be released, I’ll be released, oh!

[ Surrender – Hurts ]

Speaking of Hurts songs that are difficult to nail, Surrender (the title track of the third album) doesn’t give much to work with: it’s a one minute and eighteen second intro with basically three sentences in the lyrics – and they’re quite vague, too. But musically it’s a powerful song despite its simplified structure: the gospel-like choir is incredibly energetic and makes it quite emotional – even epic. I always thought of a picture with very dramatic light and a welcoming mood of sort as, despite the title, the lyrics are quite optimistic. And that’s pretty much what I got by having Knajfer and Riccardo posing in front of the setting sun.
I thought this scene could fit the idea I had, but again, it’s their expressions – something out of my control – that really give the photo its impact.  know it’s sort of weird of me to just go with the flow when shooting, especially when it comes to my long-term projects, but it’s a really nice way to keep the creativity flowing and ready for the more structured, difficult photos in the series.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Ecstasy

Ecstasy by GothicNarcissusFall back and touch the night
And reach for the blinding light.
‘Cause everybody says that we’re too young to see.
We know that we’re brave enough to be –

In the state of ecstasy,
In the place we’re meant to be.
In the state of ecstasy
There is only you and me.

Break through from the other side
And lead me to Paradise.
‘Cause nothing but love can take us away from here.
Ever time I close my eyes, we disappear –

In the state of ecstasy,
In the place we’re meant to be.
In the state of ecstasy
There is only you and me.

[ Ecstasy – Calvin Harris feat. Hurts ]

Now, technically Ecstasy and Under Control are Calvin Harris songs featuring Hurts, but I like them enough to include them into the Inspiration Hurts project nevertheless. Ecstasy, in particular, is a pretty little ballad with a romantic undertone which I wanted to shoot, given the occasion, with a real life couple.
This photo just happened: my dear friend Knajfer and his boyfriend Riccardo were just fooling around and being adorable, and they kissed behind the furry overcoat thing long enough I could snap a picture. Which happened to fit perfectly the song retroactively: it has its ecstatic, romantic mood, has the closed eyes thing from the lyrics, and the furry thing cutting away the actual kiss gives it that sense of intimacy and “only you and me”.
Yeah, this photo just happened and it turned out a really charming addition to the project, that’s it.

Monday, 17 July 2017

If You Follow

If You Follow by GothicNarcissusAs we met we didn’t know of yesterday,
Anything that wouldn’t paralyse your system.
Set a day I can break free,
Set a day on what you think I’m not existent.

Would you stay until the end?
We are growing older,
Every moment that I spend
Laying on your shoulder.
Would your fear contain the loss?
Would you ever regret?
I’ll forsake my second life
If you follow.

I apologise for what you’ve done to me,
And truly, I’m upset for giving up the distance.
Time collects its space to show me how to see
How deep in you I dwell – the deeper is my promise.

Would you stay until the end?
We are growing older,
Every moment that I spend
Laying on your shoulder.
Would your fear contain the loss?
Would you ever regret?
I’ll forsake my second life
If you follow.

Should I lose my mind instead?
Should I give you answers
If you forget to question fate?
We might be lonely dancers
Erasing any doubt,
And if your fear is stronger,
Disconnect the roots, find out
Where you belong.

[ If You Follow – Leandra ]

So, what do you do when you’ve got a bunch of long-term projects that have slowed down lately, a few photos from said projects with a romantic undertone and a real-life couple posing for you? You sqeeze the hell out of it! That’s how I ended up with two photos for my Inspiration Hurts project and another two for Morphine. Come on, you don’t let a good occasion go to waste.
Basically, I had a nice shooting with my dear friend, fellow photographer and insanely pretty, photogenic boy Knajfer Wintermere (of Lullaby fame), and his real-life, equally pretty and photogenic boyfriend Riccardo. Among the couple photos I had sketched out and wanted to take was If You Follow: the basic idea was having one of the two in a more static pose and the other inviting him in some way, pretty basic and sticking to the song.

My original idea had the two of them posing on the oppisite sides of the beam, one facing away and the other going all “follow me” on him. I even have a couple of takes like that, but during this shooting I allowed much freedom to Knajfer and Riccardo because I wanted them to act as themselves, and one of the later takes on the photo ended up as what you see, with the two of them engaging each other while still being on opposite sides of the beam. And that’s what caught my eye: my basic idea was still there, but there’s such an exchange of energy in the picture that it trumped the more static vision I had in mind. Also, I like that it’s a bit ambiguous who’s inviting whom and who’ll follow.

So here we are, with a new work from the Isomorphine part of the series. Coming next, one from the Metamorphine side. Enjoy!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope by GothicNarcissusThere was only ever you and me
And there was only ever history
Holding us back, holding us back.
But that night, we stared in wonder,
Wide-eyed but scared to wander.
The landslide fell silent all around.

And it was the same scene from a kaleidoscope dream.
You got me spinning. No, no,
You didn’t wake me from my kaleidoscope dream.
You got me spinning in your love,
Spinning in your love.

Do you remember when we used to see
White flamingos gliding on the breeze
And there was only ever you and me?
In this neon jungle, you fed my hunger and
That night we stared in wonder:
The black sky turned technicolor
And your eyes surprised me when you smiled.

And it was the same scene from a kaleidoscope dream.
You got me spinning. No, no,
You didn’t wake me from my kaleidoscope dream.
You got me spinning in your love
And you hypnotise me like no other,
Mesmerise my mind with colour, so
Let the night bring us together again.

[ Kaleidoscope – Hurts ]

Unpopular opinion: I don’t exactly like this song. Hurts have an impressive musical catalogue with emtional, inspiring songs and this one… is okay, I guess, but it falls a bit flat. I find it generic compared to other Hurts tunes both in terms of music and lyrics. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t give me much in terms of visual ideas other than “there’s gonna be a couple”: if I included it in the poject at all was because I’m obsessive-compulsive and having a song out would bother me to no end.

Now, fun fact: there’s a lot of material I’ve gathered throughout the years which I’m saving for shooting with real-life couples rather than me and a friend, or two friends, or two random pretty people who’re willing to roll with it. Part of the reasons why I’ve slowed down considerably on many long-term project is just that: the photo needs that kind of genuine emotion to work. That’s what makes the difference between a pretty picture and one that really tells a story.
This approach paid out big time on Kaleidoscope and it’s pretty much what got me out of the tight spot it would have put me in once I was done with the rest of the series (eh, someday) and I had to deal with it. The fact I pulled it off now and in a satisfying way is pure luck and all thanks to my dear friend Knajfer Wintermere and his real-life boyfriend Riccardo.

So, when we organised the shooting, I dusted off a few ideas from my “Ho!Yay photos kept for better times” file (yes, that’s its actual name) to have a basic outline, but left many details, such as the location choice, to Knajfer and Riccardo, who are locals and know better than me where to go in Milan. The park they chose happened to have this sort of… err, porch thing, which happened to be painted with that geometric motive in bright colours. Mmh, I thought, I have a couple, I have something that sort of recalls a kaleidoscope or, more generally, the colour / neon / brightness theme in the lyrics, might as well see if I can cross this photo off the list here and now.
During the shooting, I gave Knajfer and Riccardo some directions for what I had in mind on certain photos but I generally left them free to be their cute selves in front of the lens. Here I just let them come up with the pose without any interference whatsoever (other than building a nice geometry with the bacground) and it ended up matching the mood of the song perfectly. All on their own merits, they cleared me the greatest spanner in the Inspiration Hurts works.
On a side note, the colours from the murals turned out particularly bright against the dark wood background, and that added a really nice touch to the photo. That, combined with Knajfer and Riccardo’s emotional intensity, really did the trick. Hurray, love did really save the day this time!