Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Oops! I DD it again!

(No, I’m into Britney’s music, but the title was fitting)
Silent Lamb Dinner by *GothicNarcissus
Apparently, when Jimmy Richter and I join creative forces the results are particularly profitable, and very interesting for fellow dA people. I’ve got the class, he’s good at marketing and selling his image, and it’s probably the combination of the two things that work so well. So, after Ashen Death, here comes my second Daily Deviation, Silent Lamb Dinner, again with him modelling. Perhaps not the very best of my work, but it proved to be very effective at least. I’m really thankful to Pullingcandy, who featured it, apparently with no suggestion at all (unless whoever suggested it wished to be uncredited, in which case I thank them anyway), and to all the people who watched, faved and commented it.
I think it would be nice to spend some words about this work: at least for me, it was a very sudden thing, as Jimmy told me about the concept right before shooting, when we met for other business plus photography and had to try and come up with something which didn’t require too much preparation and time (we’ve got a lot of ideas, but they would take quite a lot of time, which we didn’t have that afternoon). Dim candlelight, still life elements on the table and a classic painting-like feel to portray a cannibal’s dinner (as this is the behind-the-scenes part, I can say it without spoiling the magic of the work). We set up the black background and the accessories, Jimmy got ready and we shot. Jimmy’s original idea included vampire fangs, but as the open mouth attempts looked silly, I suggested that we scrap the fangs part and he just keep his mouth shut; I though it worked better also because it would have been pointless for a vampire to have a piece of raw human meat in his plate, wouldn’t it? So, the shooting was done quickly and smoothly, the postproduction took just a couple of attempts before both of us were satisfied. And there came the difficult part: giving it a title.
Although we roughly have similar ideas, there’s a substantial difference between us: I seek quality while he seeks popularity. As a result, I tend to keep it subtle, sophisticated and suggestive, while he’s more direct and explicit, as you can clearly see by the two radically different interpretations we gave about the same subject with my Automatic Lover and his I Sell Sex For Money: same theme, same working team, with totally different outcomes and feelings.
Thus, giving this work a title was a real delivery. I would have left it up to Jimmy, as giving a title to someone else’s idea is not the easiest task, but I just didn’t like his Human Meat suggestion: it would have spoiled the whole chemestry of the work, as it wouldn’t have had any more secret to disclose and would only rely on the model’s looks to work. Thanks but no, thanks. We came up with at least twenty possible titles, including some biblical-themed ones like Judas’ Last Supper, Corpus Et Cruor and Cain when I suggested that kind of cultural reference under Lady Gaga’s influence (I’m still in love with Judas, baby). Finally, after dropping definitively the Last Supper reference, I decided to just leave it up to dear old Hannibal Lecter and make a pun on The Silence Of The Lambs. Which Jimmy wasn’t exactly happy with, but proved a good idea, as many suspicious or half-worried “What is he eating?” coments popped up, and Pullingcandy herself praised the ambiguity of the work in the comment to the DD feature.

And that’s this work’s story. I wish to thank again those who supported it, it really means a lot to me. I hope those drawn by Jimmy’s good looks will also appreciate other parts of my work, as in the next days I’m going to publish some nature shoots I took during the Silver Lining session. See you soon!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Self-portraiture

Cheap To Rent by *GothicNarcissusYou say: ‘I only work, all night and day’.
Do say: ‘Use me, I’m cheap to rent’.
You say: ‘I only work, all night and day’.
Use me, I’m cheap to rent.

[ Machine - Theatre of Tragedy ]

It’s been a while since my last proper self-portrait. Of course I modelled together with Jimmy Richter in his Vampire-inspired photoshoot with my camera set on the tripod, and I took a self-stock photo as one of the Legionnaires for Legion, but the last photo of myself I took as a self-portrait was Astaroth, back in October 2009, which I took as apart of the then-newly started Infernal Lords project, rather than as a stand-alone self-portrait. Before that, I only took two or three other self-portaits after I bought Miss Lucy, all of which were part of some diptych.
The fact is I used to take much more self-portraits when I had a compact camera; aftermath, first I did’t have a tripod, and then I lost interest in myself as a subject for quite some time (you can notice that in 2009 up to mid-2010 I modelled only seldom in general). Anyway, now I’d like to get back in track, so I’ll try to experiment more with self-portraiture.

The problem is, self-portraiture is quite difficult, very tiring and also frustrating at times. Beside the effort of preparing as a model (make up and stuff) and that of shoot as well, it often takes a lot of attempts to get what I exactly want, as I’m not directly in control of the camera; exposure and focus are often a bit (or totally) off because I don’t have a remote control to help me set the camera while already on the spot, let alone the cropping, which I can’t control in any way before and always varies between shoots due to the fact I have to do back and forth to push the button and I cannot take the same exact position. Besides, I don’t like shooting indoors, as I can only rely on the natural light from the window, which is not always enough.
Although I have many ideas which I could do by myself, I can’t really say I enjoy myself while doing self-portraiture, so I tend to postpone; for instance, I had the idea for Cheap To Rent over two weeks ago, but never felt like actually giving it a try (well, also because I had a bunch of older stuff yet to be published). Nevertheless, it might be because I’m not skilled enough yet, which is of course because I don’t practice, so I still hope things might improve with many attempts.

Anyway, after many attempts and two lollipops, i managed to catch what I wanted on Cheap To Rent, so the effor was worth in the end, which kind of motivated me in getting better with self-portraiture. I’ll be also sure to ask my dear friend ContessaNera for advice, as hers are among the best self-portraits I’ve seen so far. Stay tuned, hopefully something good will come out soon.

Oh, and on a side note: the font I used for the title is the same of the Theatre of Tragedy logo during the Musique and Assembly period. I also used the same styling with the caps+lowercase+caps. Small details matter!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Evelyn

Evelyn by GothicNarcissusI don’t mind
If your hands are a little cold,
‘Cause I’m alive
But I’ve got nowhere to go.

So stay with me, Evelyn,
Don’t leave me with the medicine.

In the night,
As you sit and watch me sleep,
I know you cry,
But I never want to see.
So if you go
I don’t know what I’ll do.
So don’t you go,
‘Cause I’ve got no one but you.

So stay with me, Evelyn,
Don’t leave me with the medicine.
So stay with me, Evelyn,
Don’t leave me with the medicine.

I see the lights
Casting shadows on my screen,
And I don’t mind
The lullabies from the machines.
But if you go,
I don’t know what I’ll do,
So don’t you go,
‘Cause I’ve got no one but you.

So stay with me, Evelyn,
Don’t leave me with the medicine.
So stay with me, Evelyn,
Don’t leave me.

I’m more afraid than I’ve ever been,
So stay with me, Evelyn.

[ Evelyn - Hurts ]

So, finally the photoshoot with Luisa has been fully published, and I’m really thankful to all my watchers for the support they showed!
As I promised, I’d like to talk a bit about this particular photo, Evelyn. The inspiration for this photo comes from the song of the same title by Hurts, which I have known thanks to Luisa. It was her who came up with the whole idea for this photo. We were talking about our upcoming photoshoot in Venice, and she proposed me the idea of her in a penitent-like pose, all surrounded by a bluish light like a halo and looking sad and compassionate. As her description, although short, was very evocative and did fit perfectly the song (which I immediately loved), I accepted and wrote the concept down among the other ideas for the shoot. Ha, the easy part was done.
I immediately started thinking of how to manage the whole thing: the bluish part was a piece of cake as I only had to set the white balance to tungsten, but the lighting was a different thing. Truth be told, I had no clue about how to lighten Luisa’s face if I were to shoot her into the light, as I didn’t even have my reflecting panel at the moment. While we were shooting, I tried something into direct sunlight, but the result was horrible, so I decided to wait for a better idea.
To be honest, I was just extremely lucky with this photo: while walking around Venice I indeed found a very narrow alley (some 60-70 cm wide) with yellow walls, one of which was directly lightened by the sun and reflected the light onto the other wall, which reflected back some. Eureka, that was perfect. So I set the tungsten white balance, had Luisa standing in front of the directly illuminated wall with some of the light reflecting back on her face, I overexposed the photo, and there we were. Since the alley was not crouded at all (differently from the rest of Venice), I could take my time, relax and set things for the best, like for instance putting more emphasis on Luisa’s hands to make a reference to the first verse of the song (that’s why they’re slightly brighter than her face, and her marvellous complexion made the rest). And this is how one of my own favourite photos was born.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Machinery Of The Stars

I thought it would be nice to dedicate some posts to my personal favourite photos, just to break the ice. Actually, I love pretty much all of my published work, as I only submit to deviantART photos I really like, but some of my photos hold a special place in my heart for a reason or another.

The first of this series of posts will be most obviously dedicated to my own favourite photo, Machinery Of The Stars.

Machinery Of The Stars by *GothicNarcissus
The story of this photo is quite particular on its own. The place where I took it is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. I’ve always been in love with this monument as I particularly like Cast-Iron and Belle Époque architecture, so I took a photo of the impressive dome trying not to have a too banal angle, like for instance exactly from below, or with the whole circle in. It was a rainy day, though, and the photo came out rather lifeless, all greyish, very dark and not particularly interesting. It lingered on my hard drive for several months until one night, out of boredoom, I tired to apply a digital HDR technique while I was listening to Forever Is The World by Theatre of Tragedy, and this is what came out.
I particularly love this photo because to me it represents much more than a shoot of a glass and iron dome. The concentric circles and the rays remind me of the Aristotelian Solar System, all based around the perfection of circles and spheres, and its idea of some sort of mechanics controlling the movement of several sky layers (like in the Flammarion Engraving), an idea also suggested by the whole Belle Époque atmosphere you can feel in that place. The title was born quite naturally on this basis, thus I initially tried to edit it into having bluish and indigo tones to fit with the idea of a starry sky. The experiment didn’t work out particularly well, so I tried different colours and eventually ended up to what you can see above. I think I was subconsciously influenced by the music I was listening to, as those are the main colours of the Forever Is The World booklet too, and when I realized this, while the title track was at its climax, I immediately found a deep connection between the album and the photo. One of the main themes of the album (probably derived from the upcoming split of the band) is the transitoriness of Man compared to the eternity of the World, and while in the photo the circles give the idea of eternity on their own, the Aristotelian System concept itself was based on the idea of a translunar universe supposedly eternal and unchangeable as opposed to the sublunar realm, where mankind dwells; the god-like figures painted on the tympana seem to be caring of the motion of the sky, suggesting the whole Prime Mover idea, and considering all of this, there we go, I found out about a connection that was probably subconsciously crystal clear in my mind all along.
Considering the phylosophycal and musical references, I grew particularly fond of this photo, and waited until my 100th complete listen of the album to release it onto the internet. As you might probably guess, I still love this photo deeply, to the poit of choosing it as the header of this blog and basing the coour scheme on it.

Monday, 16 May 2011

How it all began… and went on

Looking back, I can’t quite recall at what point I “became” a photographer. I guess it happened eventually in a progressive, natural, non-dramatic way.
I’ve always regarded having a camera as something almost “exclusive” for, when I was a child, my mother’s camera broke and we couldn’t afford buying a new one for years. I bought my first digital camera, a Canon PowerShot A520, during a trip in the US in 2005. At first, I mainly took random tourist pictures of places I visited, or photos with friends and stuff like that, without any artistic purpose.
Always a late bloomer, although by then I had already been listening to gothic rock/metal for quite some time, I first got in touch with actual gothic imagery in 2006, when I was a styleless, short-haired, tanned 16-year-old. When I first came across pictures of such artists as Bionc7, Dream-Traveler, Kittynn, Princess-of-Shadows, Akourah, Tessaii or TheTragicTruth-of-Me (as well as other people not even on deviantART anymore like Parlami or Deemer), I was totally blown away and felt a deep connection. This prompted me to grow my hair and, in a few months, tighter and darker clothes, eyeliner and black nail polish followed, together with my first naive photographic experiments.

If I have to name two people who really influenced me to start taking photos with more aim, I’d say Bionic7 and Princess-of-Shadows. From the latter I took the habit of trying to make visual interpretations of song lyrics, while the former was basically everything I wanted to look like in my early days. Really, I thought Bionic7’s style was just beyond awesomeness. What eventually saved me from being nothing but a cheap Alex Casteels wanna-be were two things: first, I barely had any clue of how a gothic look should be (which is quite evident from my earliest photos) and, more importantly, I didn’t have Photoshop. I just couldn’t manipulate my photos anywhere near the way he did, so I had to find a path of my own, which resulted in a more traditional kind of photography rather than digital art.
At a certain point, around mid-March 2007, my mother joined the circus and started helping me, taking over most of the behind-the-lens duties and leaving me to modelling and directing: with her help, I could focus on more elaborate ideas and work outdoors. Working outdoors was the only way to disguise the poor performance of our absolutely non-professional camera, as light was better and visually impressive locations finally made the photos look better. My aim to take more serious-looking photos started what I call my “frame period”, the habit of putting a black frame around my photos to make them look more professional. My first year of what I now call naive experiments culminated in the then-awesome (and now kinda embarrassing) Seven Deadly Sins series and a couple of months later I was ready to move on to my next compact camera.
2008 opened with the purchase of a much better Fujifilm FinePix F480. Thanks to my dear Bloempje’s advice, I also learned to dare more with my look, up until I visited Camden Town and bought some really gothic clothes, getting closer to what I wanted to be and look like. I also finally got Photoshop CS3, which helped me improve the postproduction and make my photos look more professional, beside opening the gates to the digital art realm. 2008 also saw my graduation from high school and departure from my old little town, with a greater freedom to dress up in a creative way. Also, in October and November 2008 I posed for the last photoshoots taken with my compact camera.
After a brief creative limbo with sporadic and mostly meaningless photos, I had my first reflex experience thanks to my friend Ginevra and in the first months of 2009 I bought my first and current reflex camera, a Canon EOS 1000D I named Miss Lucy. This marked my departure from modelling to shooting and, together with the basic photography classes I took for some months, led to a huge improvement in my photos. I could quit the black framing as the photos could now stand up by themselves and with each photoshoot I did I learned something new and improved my skills and technique a bit. During my first year with my reflex I rarely posed anymore as I had much more fun shooting, but eventually I went back to doing both things every now and then.
Two years later I know I still have a lot to learn, but I like what I do and I hope I’m headed to the right direction. One thing I’m adamant about is that I always keep trying new things and looking forward to learning something new. I don’t want to just settle down on what I already can do, to what I know will please my audience, but I want to constantly challenge both myself and my viewers with something unexpected.
I thank you all – the models and photographers who work with me and contribute to my endeavour, as well as the people who appreciate what I do and, especially, those who critique it and give me advice on how to grow. Art is communication and I’m glad we all have so much to say together.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Welcome

As I’ve just opened this new blog, I think it’d be a good idea to introduce myself, this page and the purpose why I’m on blogspot as well.

My name is Alessandro, I’m 21 years old (22 in a week) and I’m a university student with a huge passion for art. I live and study in Trieste, Italy, and whenever I’ve got some free time you can be sure you will see me with my headphones in my ears and my photocamera in my hand going for some photos. I’ve been publishing my photos on deviantART under the brand “GothicNarcissus” for more than four years and a half now, even before I had a reflex camera, and I’ve been going through many changes and developments as an artist.
I’m writing this blog just to talk about this: my passion for photography and everything that’s connected to it in some way.
This won’t be a personal blog, which means I won’t be talking about my private life and myself as a person. It will rather be an artistic blog, in which I will discuss my art and anything that’s connected to and inspires it: not only will I write about my photos, the photoshoots and the postproduction process, but I’ll also write about my favourite musicians, painters, other photographers and models who affect my artistic self in some way. This blog won’t substitute my deviantART gallery for the publication of new photos, but here you will find many surrounding details that I don’t feel like writing on deviantART not to distract the attention from the photos themselves. If you want to have a deeper perspective on my work, this will surely help.

For those who come across this page before seeing my deviantART gallery, I think I should introduce my art as well: I’m an amateur photographer and model who occasionally crosses the borders with digital art and photomanipulation, and most of my art has a rather dark and murky touch in it. In the past, I used to stick to the Gothic imagery more strictly, but now I’m experimenting in many different directions while keeping the murk as a general feeling, often just in the very background. Although I occasionally shoot landscapes and architectures, I’m more of a portrait photographer; nevertheless, I like to contextualize my portraits in the surroundings, having the landscape or architectures valorize my models. When I take a photo, my main aim is to communicate an emotion or a story rathr than simply portray a subject. My camera is a Canon EOS 1000D, and I use Photoshop CS3 to postproduce my photos.

I’d say this is more than enough for a presentation, so I’ll just leave my work to speak for itself and my future entries to complete your view about who I am and what I do as an artist.

Alessandro