Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Inspiration Hurts: project presentation

GothicNarcissus Photography presents: Inspiration Hurts (But it feels Better Than Love)
My journey through Hurts music begun with my camera. One evening, a dear friend of mine and I were organizing a photoshoot, and, in the middle of the brainstorming, she sent me the link to Evelyn, asking me what I thought about it and if we could develop her idea of a photo inspired by the song.
Not only it did our minds connect perfectly giving us both the very same image to work on while we were listening, but it touched me so deeply I immediately googled Hurts’ discography. The next step was purchasing Happiness, hitting play and being totally blown away by Silver Lining.

Music is a huge part of my life. Ever since I had a camera and started using it to take artistic photographs, songs became my greatest source of inspiration and most of the photos I have taken in the past five years are my own visual rendition of melodies or lyrics. This happens because through my photography I try to express my inner world; some special pieces of music have a particular resonance with it and I find the reflection of my own thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, pleasures and pains in them, which echo back to me evoking particular images in my mind. This is how most of my photos are born, either while I’m listening to music, or while I’m shooting and see something that reminds me of that particular song.

One of the things I love the most about your music is the intensity of the connection I feel with them and the vividness of the images I receive back. Silver Lining, the work that opens this book, was already sketched by the end of the first chorus and crystal clear by the last, breath-taking “silver” of the final choir ever since the first time I listened to the song, the exact way you can see it on the paper. Same goes with many other works on this  book, even though they disclosed their images later on or invaded my mind while I was already at work.
Another thing worth mentioning is that I’ve been mainly shooting for the past two years and fell back in love with modelling mostly thanks to these photos. When I conceive the images, I immediately notice that most of the ideas for Hurts-inspired photos feature myself as the subject, despite my general lack of will to crawl in front of the lens. I think it’s because I share my feelings with your song so strongly and deeply that I can’t help but being part of the image myself, it’s almost automatic.

Not all of your songs have their related photos in this book. Some of them chose to leave their secrets Unspoken, for now, and I don’t want to rush or force them; others have already disclosed them, and the images they showed me Stay in my mind, but haven’t found the right moment to be brought to the light yet; and then, there are also some songs which still wait the right inspiration to bloom, be recorded and provide me with fresh inspiration in turn, someday.

As the creative process means a lot to me and I especially cherish every source of inspiration – making art is truly cathartic to me, and the worst periods come when I’m out of ideas – I felt I had to show my gratitude to you, who make the music that inspires me the most in this period. I thought the best way to pay you homage was to print the photos and hand you the book. I hope that by looking at them you may have a glimpse of the feelings your songs give me and how good I feel when I can put them into a new work. Truth be told, it feels Better Than Love.

From the preface of Inspiration Hurts (But it feels Better Than Love).

Friday, 21 October 2011

Wonderful Life & In The Shadow Of Mother Nature

Wonderful Life by GothicNarcissusOn a bridge across the Severn on a Saturday night
Susie meets the man of her dreams.
He says that he got in trouble and if she doesn’t mind
He doesn’t want the company.
But there’s something in the air, they share a look in silence
And everything is understood,
And Susie grabs her man and puts a grip on his hand
As the rain puts a tear in his eye.

She says:
‘Don’t let go.
Never give up, it’s such a wonderful life.
Don’t let go.
Never give up, it’s such a wonderful life.’

Driving through the city to the Temple station
He cries into the leather seat,
And Susie knows her baby was a family man
But the world has got him down on his knees.
So she throws him at the wall, her kisses burn like fire
And suddenly he starts to believe,
And he takes her in his arms and he doesn’t know why,
But he thinks that he begins to see.

She says:
‘Don’t let go.
Never give up, it’s such a wonderful life.
Don’t let go.
Never give up, it’s such a wonderful life.’

[ Wonderful Life – Hurts ]

The Cuga dam in Sardinia is one of the places of my childhood. Not only is it on the way to the town where my mother used to work, but she would often take me out for a ride in her car and a picnic on Sundays, and that served as a location several times. It’s since around 2007 that I wanted to do a photoshoot there, but several circumstances, starting from me needing specifically a cloudy day, going through a fire occurred in the surrounding area which ruined the landscape, and then never finding a suitable moment when I moved out and came home only for holidays.
Well, surely waiting so long proved a good thing, as I got much better at photography and bought a reflex camera meanwhile. When I finally organized the so long desired photoshoot, I had just discovered (and was already totally enthusiastic about) Hurts music, which inevitably influenced me; also, I had already planned to take advantage of the murky sky to shoot Silver Lining there (regardless of the dam itself), so the door was gladly open for other Hurts song to flood my mind.
Both Wonderful Life and In The Shadow Of Mother Nature are photos which were born there and then without any planning. As for the former, I think I associated the location with the concrete platform on the front cover of the single, which made the song to start playing in my mind and urge me to shoot the photo. It was the first period of my new fashion direction, so I decided to tribute Hurts’ posh aesthetics by striking a Vogue-esque pose as if I was showing my goth-dandy outfit for some high edge editorial. Which would have worked, as the contrast between the industrial landscape and the elegant clothes makes them stand out. In The Shadow Of Mother Nature basically follows the same idea, blending industrial and natural elements in the set to highlight the clothes.

I think I’m going to introduce also the other photos from this session, including the nature ones (which are quite rare for a portrait addicted like me), but I’ll save them for another post, as I don’t want to mix them with the Inspiration Hurts project.
On a side note, these photos were not part of a project yet: I decided to do one when I found out I already had enough Hurts photos (taken or planned) to make a theme photobook out of them.
In The Shadow Of Mother Nature by GothicNarcissus
In my dreams I see the life She brings to me,
But I forget Her in the morning.
And I don’t need Her holy blessings to be free,
And I can stand it when She’s talking, talking back to me.

In the shadow of Mother Nature
We find it hard to live our lives,
But we never chose the life She gave us
And we don’t need Her to survive.

It’s no wonder we grow strong while You grow weak.
And that’s exactly how You made us.
And all your violence makes it harder to believe.
And every death just leaves us faithless, faithless in defeat.

In the shadow of Mother Nature
We find it hard to live our lives,
But we never chose the life She gave us
And we don’t need Her to survive.
[ Mother Nature – Hurts ]

Friday, 14 October 2011


Sunday by GothicNarcissusThere are times when we question the things we know.
Never thought that the cracks would begin to show.
We both know love is not that easy.
I wish I’d known that it would be this hard to be alone.
Please, come home.

Is this the end of a love that has just begun?
I always hoped that the best, it was yet to come.
So please, come back, don’t you leave me,
We’re both so young, I know you need me too
And there’ll always be times like these.

Loveless nights, they seem so long;
I know that I’ll hold you someday.
Until you come back where you belong
It’s just another lonely Sunday.

If you don’t come back tomorrow
I’ll be left here in the cold.
If you don’t come back tomorrow
I’ll go.

Loveless nights, they seem so long;
I know that I’ll hold you someday.
Until you come back where you belong
It’s just another lonely Sunday.

[ Sunday – Hurts ]

Posing while shooting and directing another model, all of this blindfolded: now, this is the new frontier of self-portraiture! You can imagine this was not an easy one to take, so please forgive my cropped head.

So, here is a new work for my Inspiration Hurts project, the last one I can include in the printed book due to time schedule (I have to send everything to print within this week or I will get the book too late for the concert). If you can’t see the connection between the song and the photo, I suggest that you have a look at the videoclip, as I directly tribute it. I particularly love it, as you have to watch it till the end to get the right perspective on the enigmatically blended scenes and understand it’s a very original rendition of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth.
I was so fascinated by this turning point and its modern interpretation (the mirror door in which Theo/Orpheus sees his Eurydice losing her is pure genius) that I decided to play on that for my photo, building my own rendition of the story with personal symbolism.
I decided to depict the moment of the ascension from the Underworld, with me as Orpheus leading Eurydice (played by my flatmate Giulia) by hand. As you may guess, the blood she’s spilling from her mouth is a direct tribute to the video.
As for me, you will notice two things: I’m blindfolded and holding a microphone.
The blindfold is to avoid looking at Eurydice, either out of anxiety like in the original myth, or accidentally like in the Hurts video; the microphone is simply my musical instrument: Orpheus played his lyre to touch Hades and Persephone with his music, while I am a singer so had to rely on my own voice (technically I can play piano too, but it’d be hard to get my dead wife back by covering Evanescence’s Exodus, which is the only tune I still remember how to play). My new pullover is not strictly part of the symbolism, but is worth mentioning because its truly gorgeous, so just love it as much as I do.
(Naturally I’m taking for granted that you already know the myth. If you don’t, you can find it on Wikipedia.)

Technically speaking, you may notice this work is rather unusual for me. I used a noticeably downward perspective together with a wide(r)-angle to deform a bit the borders and give the photo a more dynamic touch. Overall I’m satisfied with the results, although not being fully in control of everything due to the blindfold and having to deal with a very narrow space of the set was a huge limit. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever looked less manly than here, but as I try to make the best out of my androgyny anyway, it’s no big deal.
On a side note, I wish I could use a Volga car for my photo: seeing all those Russian references in the video totally sent my Belarusian half in orbit.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Illuminated by GothicNarcissusTime waits for no one,
So do you want to waste some time,
Oh, oh, tonight?
Don’t be afraid of tomorrow,
Just take my hand, I’ll make it feel
So much better tonight.

Suddenly my eyes are open,
Everything comes into focus, oh.
We are all illuminated,
Lights are shining on our faces, blinding.

Swing me these sorrows
And try delusion for a while,
It’s such a beautiful night.
You’ve got to lose inhibition,
Romance your ego for a while.
Come on, give it a try.

Suddenly my eyes are open,
Everything comes into focus, oh.
We are all illuminated,
Lights are shining on our faces, blinding.

We are, we are blinded.
We are, we are blinded.

[ Illuminated – Hurts ]

To be honest, I can’t quite believe I took this photo. I mean, that I finally did. The rough idea has been in my head for at least six months now, but never had the occasion to, err, see the light, if you will. So it’s really beautiful to finally see it done.
Illuminated was one of the first three Hurts songs to totally blow me away, and also the third image I saw in my mind while listening, after Evelyn and Silver Lining. At first, though, I put it aside, as I somehow didn’t feel it was mature enough to be shot yet. I focussed on other things, while having it written down among my other modelling ideas and waiting to really feel the urge to shoot it. Which came sometime in July, when I finally understood what the mood of my photo had to be: a mixture of fear and fascination for the illumination, the indecision between letting light blind you or shielding your eyes to remain in the darkness; to quote a couple of fitting lines by Anathema, “the choice between love and fear of pain”, something that I’ve started feeling again only recently (after a long period of utter rejection). I think deep within I knew this photo had to be genuine, so I kept postposing it until I really felt it. To be honest, it took me a while to decide whether I was satisfied with it or not, as I didn’t know if I was expressive enough for what I wanted (I still have huge problems with expressivity), but in the end I saw all that I wanted to represent was there.

This photo was not very easy to take. As I set the black background in a park, I had basically no reference for the focus, so my first, countless attempts just failed. I resolved to ask an old man passing by to just step in front of my tripod so that I could adjust the focus on him before I was finally able to shoot properly. I shot multiple times tying different poses, and this was the best one.
On a side note, this time I tried something completely different for my make up: I didn’t use any eyeliner or eye pencil, and only relied on eye shadow, which I applied using a big Neve brush on the eyelid and a quite small one on the lower part. I love the smoky effect I got, so I’m definitely going to use it again, also in my everyday life when make up is required.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Confide In Me & Tainted Fashion

Confide In Me by GothicNarcissusI stand in the distance,
I watch from afar.
Should I offer my assistance,
Should it matter who you are?

We all get hurt by love
And we all have our cross to bear,
But in the name of understanding now
Our problems should be shared.

Confide in me, confide in me.

And I can keep a secret
And throw away the key,
But sometimes, to release it
Is to set our children free.

Stick or twist, the choice is yours.
Hit or miss, what’s mine is yours.
Stick or twist, the choice is yours.
Hit or miss, what's mine is yours.

We all get hurt by love
And we all have our cross to bear,
But in the name of understanding now
Our problems should be shared.

Confide in me, confide in me,
Confide in me, confide in me.

[ Confide In Me – Hurts ]

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m writing about these two photos separately, as they are part of my Inspiration Hurts project, which has got a life of its own by now.

Differently from most of the photos from this project, Tainted Fashion and Confide In Me were neither born suddenly while shooting, nor carefully planned before. I can say they’re a hybrid, as I roughly sketched them in my mind but waited to be there and let inspiration flow to have a complete image of them.
The story behind Confide In Me is actually even stranger than that. When I knew the shoot would be set in an abandoned factory, I somehow felt there would be something that would fit this concept. I don’t know why, but I knew it. I thought I’d find an old telephone or something, but that little old phone book was even better, it was just the perfect match for the idea of confiding in an utter stranger. Here you can see a detail of it:
Confide In Me by *GothicNarcissus: detail
Tainted Fashion is a bit the odd one in this project. It’s the photo which has the less direct correlation with a Hurts song, although it’s still somewhat connected. It’s loosely based on the second verse of Better Than Love (in particular visually, with the reference to light and darkness) and on the question whether fashion’s frivolity actually feels better than love and emotions (did someone mention thawing?). Or are emotions even more frivolous than the beau monde, after all? Which one leads to decay first? (Ok, end of the thawing). I basically wanted it to look like some sort of fashion show held in utter decay, stressing on the idea of transience that is common to fashion and feelings, perfectly epitomized by the set.
You may see these two photos especially benefited from the extraordinarily good lighting conditions of the warehouse. Without it, they would have never been so intense. But a big deal of the work was done by Raz and his wonderful expressivity, that totally made the photos.
Tainted Fashion by GothicNarcissus
Another second in the sunshine,
A decade in the dark taking part in a dream.
Have you forgotten what she looks like,
Or do you only see what you want to believe?

Does it feel better than love?
Does it feel better than love?
[ Better Than Love – Hurts ]

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A Post-apocalyptic Scenary

Castle For Clowns by *GothicNarcissus
Abandoned warehouses are the perfect place to take photos in, so no wonder that many (if not all) photographers end up using them at least once in their career. An abandoned factory is usually isolated, you can take your time without other people interfering, has that decaying feeling that completes so many kind of photos, it doesn’t cost a thing (unless you get a fine for entering a private property) and, in particular, has a huge lot of different ideas to offer.
If you consider that I’m attracted to decadence like a moth to the flame and that I have a huge fascination for industrial landscapes, you can easily guess why I immediately got very enthusiastic when Raz Estacado suggested the possibility to shoot in an abandoned factory near Padua.
As I mentioned in the post about Nergal, Raz wrote to me on Facebook asking me if I was interested in collaborating with him, which I immediately accepted, deciding to include him in my InfernalLords project. Of course, meeting him just for a single photo would have been a waste of time and resources, so I asked him if he could suggest a location to shoot in, possibly something industrial (as I’m a bit fed up of old-fashioned monumental places), and he suggested me this abandoned, post-apocalyptic warehouse, showing me some photos he had taken there himself. Coincidentally, I had just bought A Natural Disaster by Anathema, so a bunch of fitting concepts started blooming in my mind, and here is the results.

I have to say I’ve been particularly lucky, as the location had a wonderful lighting. There were several windows which let the bright afternoon light in, allowing me to experiment a lot and, with the right amount of attention, getting a professional-looking illumination on the model, making him stand out from the background in most of the shoots. In other cases, the brighter areas simply provided some additional hues which completed the chromatism of the photos.

Besides the location, though, the real highlight of this session is the model. I really had a great time working with Raz Estacado for several reasons: firstly, he’s a photographer himself, so he already had a clue about how to act in front of the camera and needed just general directions; we also exchanged some pieces of advice and experimented different things during the shoot (although they didn’t work out in the end). But more importantly, he’s one of the most expressive models I’ve had the pleasure to work with, surely the most expressive overall among males. He gave the photos a brand new freshness and intensity, totally different from those of other sessions. I took full advantage of his theatrical skills to add a different flavour to the photos, to very satisfying results. Also, I had the occasion to practice make up on another person, which turned out pretty good for being the first time I do it for photographic purposes. No need to say I’m looking forward to working with him again in the future.

As for now, enjoy the outcome of this fruitful photoshoot. I will include all the photos except Cold Comfort and a couple of shoots which are part of the InspirationHurts project and need a separate mention.
Violence by *GothicNarcissus
Scary, Lonely Dream World by *GothicNarcissus
Brighter Days, Outside by *GothicNarcissusSave Me by *GothicNarcissusElectricity by *GothicNarcissusWyatt Earth by *GothicNarcissus