Monday, 26 December 2011

Devotion

Devotion by GothicNarcissusInside the heart of every man
There is a lust, you understand,
And I’m just the same.
When all the love has gone away
And passion stares me in the face,
Could I walk away?

Here’s hoping
That you will be there.
Here’s hoping
You’ll help me to be brave.

Devotion, save me now,
I don’t want to stray from the hallow ground.
I’ll turn temptation down,
I’m asking you to take me to safety this time.

Forgive my thoughts when I’m asleep,
Forgive these words I’m yet to speak,
I feel so ashamed.
Right now you seem so far away,
So much confusion clouds my way
And I don’t know which path to take.

Here’s hoping
That you can hear me.
Here’s hoping
You’ll help me to resist.

Devotion, save me now,
I don’t want to stray from the hallow ground.
I’ll turn temptation down,
I’m asking you to take me to safety this time.

Devotion, devotion,
I’m a slave unto the mercy of your love.
For so long I’ve been so wrong,
I could never live without you.

[ Devotion – Hurts ]

The concept for Devotion has been floating around in my head for quite some months now, waiting for the right occasion to see the light. What I needed was to have both a male and a female model to pose with me, with the original plan including the use of the tripod and timer. This photo was the reason I decided to ask Alessio to pose in the first place, as going to Turin to see Briar Rose I knew I’d have a female model for sure. The original idea was having her posing with us, but when the photoshoot started taking a concrete shape and Giulia joined us, we decided that she would be posing and Briar Rose would take the photo instead.
Differently from what I usually do, in particular for the Hurts-inspired photos, I’m not going to write much about the concept: it’s a very personal interpretation of the song lyrics (sorry, Theo!), which is not about a simple, banal love triangle. I can tell you, though, that all and every detail in this photo is strictly connected to the concept, from the colour of the outfits to the poses, the place where we are sitting and what we’re looking at. I think you can get the concept by simply looking at the photo, I tried to make ut clear with it.

Once again, Briar Rose made an amazing work, shooting exactly what I wanted and directing us so that we’d fit my idea (of course, I had little to no control over the poses once I stepped in front of the lens), so a huge part of the merit is hers. Alessio and Giulia also deserve a special mention for doing everything despite the fat that I didn’t tell them much about the deeper meaning of my idea, I just told them where to sit and what to do. But well, our team turned out to work perfectly in the end.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

After The Rain

After The Rain by *GothicNarcissus
[ After The Rain - Katie Noonan & The Captains ]

When shooting in Stupinigi, I decided to leave the photos of Alessio and Giulia together as the last ones. Firstly beause Giulia was quite busy with Briar Rose on her own, secondly (and more importantly) becauese I wanted both to become more comfortable and confident with my new lens and have the models relax and be at their ease, so they could be the most natural and expressive they could in the photos. Thus, I waited till Briar Rose was done with Giulia and I had enough photos of Alessio alone before I had the two of them interacting in front of my own lens.
I must really thank both of them for just bringing all those emotions to life and being so natural and comfortable at posing together despite not knowing each other at all. This allowed me to focus on my own job and try ifferent techniques to catch exactly what they were showing, with amazing results: I think these are among the best portraits Ive ever taken, in particular After The Rain.


Each shoot has a particular story of its own, so I recommend that you have a look at the deviantART pages if youre curious. Meanwhile, I wish all of you a merry Christmas.
Violent Daylight by *GothicNarcissus
Les Amants Du Même Jour by *GothicNarcissus
The River by *GothicNarcissus

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Do You See What I'm Seeing?

Do You See What I’m Seeing? by *GothicNarcissusClouds are marching along,
Singing a song just like they do.
If the clouds were singing a song
I’d sing along, wouldn’t you too?
If you just knew what they could do,
Oh, if you just knew, what would they do?
And if the birds are just hollow words
Flying along singing a song,
What would they do if they just knew
What they could do, oh, if they just knew?

I know it’s sad that I never gave a damn about the weather
And it never gave a damn about me.
I know it’s sad that I never gave a damn about the weather
And it never gave a damn about me.
No, it never gave a damn about me.

I know it’s mad, but if I go to hell, will you come with me or just leave?
I know it’s mad, but if the world were ending, would you kiss me or just leave me,
Just leave me?

[ Do You Know What I’m Seeing? - Panic! At The Disco ]

The first part of my photoshoot with the handsome Alessio La Bella taken in Stupinigi, near Turin, has been published. All the photos featuring Alessio alone are up and now I’m going to publish the second part, which features both him and the charming Giulia Biletta (previously starring as Jezebeth for my Infernal Lords series). As we’re about mid-way, with this photo perfectly summarizing what I meant to represent in this shoot, I think it’s time to spend some words about this whole series.
A bit of background first: I met Alessio totally randomly at Lucca Comics And Games 2011 where he had a kingyo-sukui stand together with a friend, and I immediately thought he’d look awesome in front of my lens. I looked up his Kingyo Sukui Facebook page (which I recommend you to visit if you’re interested in nice gadgets) and added him just in case. When I started planning my trip to visit BriarRose in Turin, I asked him if by any chance he could interested in posing, he agreed and we arranged a meeting. Which became a sort of photography workshop when not only BriarRose joined as a photographer (I initially asked her to help me as MUA and assistant), but also Giulia came to model. But despite things getting a bit delirious (mainly because you can’t expect BriarRose, Giulia and me to be serious for more than ten seconds when we’re all together), we ended up mutually boosting our creativity with brilliant results.
This time, I deliberately chose a model who was totally out of the goth scene because I just wanted to focus on different things. Which is, I wanted to do an autumn-winter fashion editorial-like thing with a shade of emotion in it. Also, I had just bought my new 50mm lens and I wanted to explore its potential by putting more care into the composition and such.
I was quite glad to learn that Alessio had no modelling experience whatsoever, as this would preserve the genuineness of the feelings I wanted the photos to have (it could have turned into him being a bit awkward at the beginning, but I was sure I would overcome it with a good direction if that were the case). This proved to be the right choice: while I gladly found out he could work without having to be strictly directed, allowing me to take care of the composition, his way of posing was so natural and genuine that he added the emotional depth I wanted to complete the fashionable feeling. This can be clearly seen in the photo above, which was actually taken while he was standing up after posing for another photo, but turned out to be exactly what I wanted. Thism together with more everyday-like outfits and the autumn magic of the location, which added either a romantic or a decadent feeling depending on the mood of the photo, I was able to achieve exactly what I wanted, even getting to develop old concepts of mine such as Eliot.

Technically speaking, the main features of this photoshoot was the use of extremely short depth of field to explore the bokeh world, an accurate study of compositions (pyramidal such as in The Promise, use of natural frames such in Looking Outside Inside) and a careful evaluation of lights and shadows in order to make volumes stand out and get dramatic black and whites in postproduction (except for Holy Pool Of Memories and Eliot which relied mostly on colours instead). I also worked a lot with diptychs, often thinking of how two photos would look if matched on two pages of a magazine (even though most of diptych are yet to come). To be completely honest – and I rarely give in to free self-congratulation – when I was done with post-production I was stunned by some of my own photos and wondered, did I really take them myself? It was a bit weird to see how I improved virtually overnight just by buying a better lens which removed several limits I needed to overcome to fully express my ideas. Now I can’t wait to take more photos, I’m eager to further explore what I can do now with a better equipment.
But meanwhile, enjoy the first part of this photoshoot:
Eliot by *GothicNarcissus
The Promise by *GothicNarcissus
Holy Pool Of Memories by *GothicNarcissusSeptembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées by *GothicNarcissusMon Chevalier by *GothicNarcissusLooking Outside Inside by *GothicNarcissus

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Infernal Lords XVIII: Jezebeth

Can I steal your mind for a while?
Can I stop your heart for a while?
Can I freeze your soul and your time?
Scorpion flower, token of death,
Ignite the skies with your eyes.

[ Scorpion Flower – Moonspell & Anneke Van Giersbergen ]
Jezebeth by *GothicNarcissusCountess Jezebeth is a Higher Demon from the Fourth Level. A former Principality, she was one of the first Angels to be recruited by Duke ??????, whom she’s been following eagerly ever since. The two played a pivotal role in the preparation of the Great Heavenly War, as they used their eloquence to turn several Angels to the cause of Emperor Lucifer. Moreover, together with Count Kobal Countess Jezebeth was the one in charge of distracting Yahweh from what was going on, and the two were successful in their role until the near beginning of the war. Her cunning and great lying ability led Countess Jezebeth to become the very embodiment of deceitfulness and after the Fall she became the Demon of Lies and Falsehood. She is so proud of her mischievousness that, once in Hell, she altered her physical appearance growing a scorpion tail, which also vehicles her elemental power of Venom.
Despite Duke ?????? being an even better liar than herself, she’s the one in charge of the specific use of falsehood as a vessel for Evil in the Sublunar World. Her modus operandi is slightly different for that of many Demons, as she often chooses multiple victims at once, possessing one in order to gain the trust of the others and lure them all to their downfall. Occasionally, she clashes with Viscount Legion over Mortals, as she likes to annoy him by aiming as his same victims.
Her life at Court is one of the most intense. She is part of both Duke ??????’s retinue and Duke Beelzebub’s Order of the Great Fly (due to her Element being derived from Earth), and her mundane, gossipy and chatty manners make her a very popular figure to whom many Courtiers turn for some light-hearted fun, the true heart of many soirées along with her dear friend, Marquise Decarabia. Whether it’s true or not, her gossip, much often provided by Marquis Rosiel, is always very entertaining and she’s so good at lying that she can deceive even those Demons who are most familiar with her lies; many of the falsehoods she passed off as truth become the whispers that animate the chit-chatting behind the ladies’ fans for days and days. Besides Viscount Legion, whom she often pretends to befriend in order to spread gossip about, she’s mostly at odds with Marquis Nergal, who strongly disapproves of her utter dishonesty. But no doubt – he can be tricked by Countess Jezebeth’s stingy tongue too…

Jezebeth: development and symbolism

Credits:
Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model: Giulia Biletta
Styling: GothicNarcissus and BriarRose
Hair, make up: BriarRose
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (textures), BrokenWing3dStock (wings), Dracoart-stock (scorpion tail)

I found out about a Demon called Jezebeth thanks to a friend of mine who played a character on a RPG who was possessed by Jezebeth, the Demon of Lies and Falsehood. Even though this was pretty much all that I could find about the Demon itself (the sources are very scarce), I sort of liked it mostly because of the name and decided it would be one of my Infernal Lords.
Sounds quite neat and easy, doesn’t it? Hell, no. Not only did I have nothing but a single line with no further explanation about Jezebeth, but this Demon was “specialised” in something totally abstract and difficult to represent. On the one hand, this gave me total freedom on how to portray it, on the other I was a bit frustrated for not having much to work on. It was a very though challenge, which I decided to accept anyway.
The only thing I had clear about this Demon from the beginning was that its name sounded very feminine, so I decided it would be a girl (back then there were too few Ladies in the series). At first, I thought she’d have to look very mischievous, so I decided to cast my dear friend ContessaNera with her badass pin up fringe for the role. She wasn’t very thrilled at the idea and, after some pressure, I decided to change her role into one I knew she would love as a linguist: Agares, the Demon of languages.
An early draft of ContessaNera as Jezebeth.
In the meantime, Jezebeth stayed in a limbo waiting to be recast, but at that point I just had no ideas at all and focussed on other Demons. Then I found Giulia, a friend of BriarRose’s. Looking at her photos, I got immediately fascinated by her sweet, innocent looks and decided it was perfect for the Demon of Falsehood: what could be more deadly deceiving than a tender-looking monster? And that was the easiest part.
The though thing now was, how to visually represent the actual concept of falsehood? The right idea came up while I was talking about it with my mother, DamaInNero: a scorpion. The scorpion can be seen as one of the most mischievous animals, as it spends its life undercover, remains hidden but is always ready to attack at the right moment. I could very well recycle the old cliché of the Devil with a tail (a total novelty for my series) making a good-looking one. Insect wings to complete the supernatural visuals, and the general idea was finally there.
On the other hand, when I was at home for the sumer break, I enjoyed watching Agatha Christie’s Poirot on television, which revamped my huge love for the Tweinties and Thirties’ aesthetics. This made me think, what about doing a Twenties-looking Jezebeth? Why not? I’m quite fed up with Victorian aesthetics and such an experiment would bring some novelty to the project. Also, as I knew I would most likely meet Giulia together with BriarRose and the latter is the most gifted make up artist I’ve met and had the pleasure to work with: the thing could work perfectly. I talked with the girls, they loved the idea and we stared thinking of when to schedule the shooting. Side note: I truly have to thank BriarRose for making such a magnificent work with the hairstyle and make up, she really made the difference!
It’s also worth mentioning that the circumstances of this work were quite unique: all my previous attempts to do more than one Infernal Lord at a time (like for instance in the same trip) didn’t work. If I arranged more than one shooting, some of the models (if not all) could not come in the end. This time I also shot Kobal, like, an hour later and then went off to do more shooting with both models; so, apparently the “curse” put on my project took a day off, which I really loved.
I wrote about almost all the symbolism of this work, but I still have to say that Jezebeth holds a fan because women used to cover their mouth with them when they were gossiping, so it represents idle and malevolent talking. Also, I wanted Jezebeth to have an ambiguous, malicious smile to complete the whole work, and Giulia did it perfectly. The seal I used (yes, there is a seal, you just have to look for it) is that of Bune, which I chose because it reminds of an insect or an arachnid, reprising the scorpion motif.
As ContessaNera took red away with her, I didn’t have a main colour in my mind for this photo and I eventually chose purple taupe because it matched the original hue of the photo. Choosing the theme-song was another difficult part and I changed my mind several times over the past months. Eventually, when the scorpion idea stung (pun intended), I opted for Scorpion Flower by Moonspell featuring Anneke Van Giersbergen, for quite obvious reasons.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Affair

Affair by GothicNarcissusRock me on the river,
Where my troubles belong.
‘Cause you know I love you,
But I know it’s wrong,
But your body is all that I want.

Rosy affair,
You took my heart for a little while.
Greatest mistake I ever made, loving you.
Rosy affair,
I gave you my heart for a little while.
I wish I could stay with you tonight,
But I’m going home.

And we danced all night in the shadows,
Alone we stood in the crowd,
But I’m going crazy now you’re not around.
You should find another lover, baby,
Won’t let you down.

If I stay here tonight
There’ll be trouble,
But I don’t want to pretend,
‘Cause I know that we’ll make it.
My heart just can’t take it no more,
But I would rather lose a lover, baby, over it all.

Rosy affair,
You took my heart for a little while.
Greatest mistake I ever made, loving you.
Rosy affair,
I gave you my heart for a little while.
I wish I could stay with you tonight,
But I’m going home.

[ Affair – Hurts ]

Of course, despite the photobook being printed and given to the guys, I could not let too much time before I took another Hurts-inspired photo, so here we go with the beautiful and emotional semi-ballad Affair.
The story behind this photo is somehow similar to that of Happiness: onge again, it was Briar Rose who suggested the general idea, and then my mind found a perfect connection with my favourite muse.
This time, the challenge was to directly quote an existing photograph that Briar Rose particularly loved, for which I fell too upon seeing it. She asked me to find it a suitable title, and after thinking of some minor adjustments to fit the song I thought it was the perfect match to Affair.

The first difficulty to overcome once we were at work was the lack of a chandelier, which added the special touch to the original photo. To fill the emptiness of the upper part, we opted for that particular dress so that its golden pattern would stand out in black and white, catching the eye and makin up for the lack of the chandelier. Besides, I tried to get a somewhat colder feeling by having a looser hugh, as if they were done and Yue was about to go home as in the song.
One thing I really love about this photo is how expressive Briar Rose is despite not showing her face at all: the line of her back, the neck and her hand have something very emotive about them. Also, I love how she did her hair, she’s getting the best hairdresser and make up artist I know personally.

Oh, and the good news is you can expect a new photo for the Inspiration Hurts project quite soon.