Saturday, 31 March 2012

The way they see us

The photography world is a cruel one. Lenses are cruel because people are cruel, and they dont always, if ever, tell the truth. A lens, a camera, they are nothing but a mechanical prothesis that allow people to enhatch one of their ability: sight. It gets enhatched so that people can actually freeze and preserve what they see.
A photograph is never a portrait of reality, its a frozen moment of what someone can see of the world. Some people can see the beauty in it and therefore their photos show beauty; some people cannot, and their photos are unpleasent. Same goes with portraits.

People, you must never think youre not beautiful because of a photo. Whenever you look ugly in a photo, that does not mean you really are, that only means that someone, a single person, has not looked deep enough to see how really beautiful you are; the problem lies in their eyes and how they fail to properly use them on you, not in you. If you look very ugly, well, then they probably hold such resentment to end up making a monster out of you; a monster which is only in their mind (thats how many “ugly celebrity” pictures are born, which is the thought that sparked this post in the first place). Then there are photos in which you look stunningly beautiful: thats because whoever took it sees the beauty in you, appreciates you and how you make the world around them more pleasent.
And then, there are some photos you just like, no matter what, some photos that you see and realise, “oh wow, thats how I truly am”. Thos photos do tell the truth because they are taken by somebody who cares for you to the point of seeing the real you. And you will most likely end up loving those photos forever, for whoever shot them really loves you.
So, just cherish those people and hold them very dear.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Heavy Metal Lover

Heavy Metal Lover by *GothicNarcissusI want your whiskey mouth all over my blonde south.
Red wine, cheap perfume, and a filthy pout.
Tonight bring all your friends because a group does it better.
Love is down with a dance: let’s have a full house of leather.

Ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-who, ooh-ooh-ooh,
Ooh-ooh-who, ooh-ooh-who,
Heavy metal lover.
Ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-who, ooh-ooh-ooh,
Ooh-ooh-who, ooh-ooh-who,
Heavy metal lover.

Dirty pony, I can’t wait to hose you down.
You’ve got to earn your leather in this part of town.
Dirty girls, in a patch Follow the Remington Rebels.
Let’s raise hell in the streets, drink beer and get into trouble.

Ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-who, ooh-ooh-ooh,
Ooh-ooh-who, ooh-ooh-who,
Heavy metal lover.
Ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-who, ooh-ooh-ooh,
Ooh-ooh-who, ooh-ooh-who,
Heavy metal lover.

I could be your girl-girl-girl, girl-girl-girl,
But would you love me if I ruled the world-world-world?

Ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-who, ooh-ooh-ooh,
Ooh-ooh-who, ooh-ooh-who,
Heavy metal lover.

Whip me, slap me, punk funk.
New York clubbers bump-drunk.
Dark like liquorice, bar slam.
Move it, this is your jam.
Wash the night with St. Jameson
Like a baptism,
Heavy metal lovers play,
Baby we were born this way.

[ Heavy Metal Lover - Lady Gaga ]

Oh yes, folks: this is yaoi and totally Lady Gaga!
First of all, let me introduce to you the model: Alessandro is a friend of mine and he’s the one who made me love Lady Gaga. Like the average metalhead, initially I utterly despised her, then I found out a couple of her songs were a guilty pleasure to me, and then Alessandro basically forced me to really listen to her, which totally conquered me. Heavy Metal Lover is currently my favourite Gaga song and is also one of Alessandro’s favourites. All of the above, combined with the fact he’s one of the hottest boys I know, made him the perfect choice for my co-model in this shot.

Now I’ll introduce to you the photo. I had the idea last September while having dinner at the Chinese right after listening obsessively to this song for the whole afternoon. Suddenly, while I was humming the chorus waiting for my noodles, the image as you see it stuck in my head (except for the model) and I knew I had to do it. Everything, from the poses to the make up, accessories, lighting, hue and Impact font title was there in my mind, so I just texted it on my mobile not to forget it and then transcribed it to a txt file on my computer.
It is interesting to say that I had largely neglected that song for months before I suddenly started obsessing over it and got the inspiration. I subsequently realised that part of it came also from The Fame Monster promotional shoots taken by Heidi Silmane, most notably the frontal light, golden hue and the chains, but that’s unsurprising, given that everything about Gaga is inspiring, from her music to her visuals and character.
Perfect, the idea was there, as clear as day. The problem now was finding a model. I could not ask just anybody randomly because I needed a certain complicity with my “heavy metal lover” in order for the photo to work: basically, I knew that if we did not feel at our ease with each other, the photo would come up totally fake and passionless. That, and I would not have dared to pose (half) naked while hugging and snogging and almost fucking a perfect stranger. I decided to ask Alessandro because we get along well (at least when I’m not trolling him) and after we met for the first time I found out he had much more sex appeal face to face than in his Facebook pictures. I had to work a bit to convince him because of the bare-chested part, but in the end he agreed and we shot.

The shooting was, like, hilarious. I did Alessandro’s make up and hair with much complaint both from him and from me, as I dreaded his indomitable hair but ended up yelling at him after I found out that it was easy to comb (he even had a natrual wave) and he simply never did it. Then I dolled him up with the fetish accessories, with Heavy Metal Lover looping from his laptot all the while. Once again, LunarShore was there to help and assist us. He acted as my “double” while I was setting the camera on the tripod so I could be sure I would not end up out of the frame, and as my “remote control” pushing the button with my settings while I was posing. As you can see from the backstage pictures, there was a huge lot of laughing because I eventually scratched Alessandro, bit his collar, we lost balance multiple times and could not be serious in those making-out poses for more than thirty seconds at a time. Then we decided to shoot the Heavy Metal Barbapapa thing after LunarShore’s idea and that was the end of it all. Fortunately, the photo I wanted had been taken and we were done with the whole ordeal anyways.

So, this is my first serious and openly homoerotic photo and I’m really glad I could finally get it out of my mind after six months. I really have a bunch of such photos written down and patiently waiting for their turn, but some require an ever closer bond between me and the other model, so they’re, well, on hold indefinitely. On the other hand, I’m developing a lot of ideas based on Gaga’s songs, so perhaps that will be my new project, in parallel with the Infernal Lords and the Inspiration Hurts series. I just have to find it a name.


The Wait by *GothicNarcissus
Deborah Luna and I have been knowing each other for quite some time now. We initially got in touch via Facebook because we have many photography-related friends in common, but we found out we really get along well and quickly became friends outside of the photography world. We met a couple of times when I went to Milan and decided we had to definitely work together. We gathered so many ideas that we had to choose what to do when, and the first project we decided to develop was the Diva one.

In my opinion, Deborah Luna is not your typical gothic chick: although that style suits her, I think the early Twentieth Century styles suit her better. Thus, I proposed to her a photoshoot in a Thirties-inspired outfit in the beautiful Art Dèco setting of Milan Central Station (its marble part, as opposed to the steel canopies I exploited for the hooligan session with Shinichi). What I wanted to portray was a mundane and glamorous diva of the past, totally different from the ethereal, tormented gothic damesels I used to portray a couple of years ago, but also “unreachable” if compared to the more “everyday” girls I’ve been shooting in between.

Once we set the day for the shooting up, Deborah Luna did the make up and hair, then we decided the outfit together and we were ready to go. The architecture of Milan Central Station is quite complex and creates an interesting play of the light that provided the photos with a lot of variety, some being bright and colourful and some being more sombre and gloomy. Also, despite the general glamorous mood shared by the whole series, some turned out to be emotionally deeper, such as the tender naivety of Come On Down or the murky melancholy of Mourning Air. Others were lush, playful and sensual, with the architecture enhatching the retro feeling given by Deborah Luna’s outfit, such as Fever Pitch, Femme Fatale, She’s So... and Luxury’s A Right, which were taken to showcase the model’s sensuality. I even designed some of the photos like advertising for jewels and clothes, most notably Fleeting Instant and The Wait.

I’m really proud of this series as, despite having a strong, glamorous continuity, each photo feels unique. My personal favourite out of these nine is The Wait, as it summarizes all the aspects of this shot, both the glamour and the emotions, the fashionable and melancholic side of a diva who’s, first of all, a woman with a heart.
Come On Down by *GothicNarcissus Mourning Air by *GothicNarcissus
Luxury’s A Right by *GothicNarcissus She’s So... by *GothicNarcissus
Diva by *GothicNarcissus
Fever Pitch by *GothicNarcissus Fleeting Instant by *GothicNarcissus
Femme Fatale by *GothicNarcissus

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Panic by *GothicNarcissusYou know you ain’t going nowhere,
You’re stuck inside while the mind is flying.
You said you’d help me in the morning,
Twisting on pins into my eyes
And dragging on the ceiling below you,
Fixing up the walls with your crooked hands
While you’re miles away, miles away, miles away.

I didn’t think it’ll all end up like this,
There’s spiders on the wall and they stink of piss.
Dead heads lying in the corner
Staring at me making me feel bad.
I put my hands up to my eyes
But the holes in my palms let me find a way
To corner you, corner you, corner you.

I can feel my chest crushing inwards,
Sucking through my skin into my brain.
Oxygen pushing on the window,
Cracks in the glass, let it slip away.
I start to cry and I keep on laughing,
I close my eyes at what’s left inside
And then I’ll run away, run away, run away.

Razor blades floating in the warm bath,
Air bubbles in your veins turning my hands black,
Whispers coming from the next room,
Window cleaner keep on spying.
I put my hands up to my eyes
But the holes in my palms let me find a way
To corner me, corner me, corner me.

Twelve tonnes hammer for my breakfast
Slipping off the edge in catatonic blood.
Multiple decibel inscriptions
Trying all they can in miles an hour.
All face grey and looming downwards,
Sniffing all the time for a ounce of silence
Screaming all the way, all the way, all the way.

Numbers counting down inside me,
Solar System thoughts circle round my head.
False teeth hanging from the ceiling,
Feet looking of the goms of the second son.
I eat my hands ‘cause my legs are crying.
You broke my neck ‘cause I snapped my spine.
I wish you would die away, die away, die away.

For all the time in this land
And all the time in my hand
Slip around in depth found,
Calmness fall once again,
Once again, once again,
Once again, once again,
Once again.

[ Panic - Anathema ]

I think this work is one of those in which the visual aspect is most closely connected both with the lyrics and the music of the song I wanted to turn into a photo. Not only did I want to represent the mental chaos of the lyrics, but I also wanted to portray the desperate frenzy of the melody.
I may guess that the general idea for this visual rendition of Panic came from these two photos, in particualr the second with the shattered glass. I immediately noticed the expressive power of such heterogenous overlayed photos and, when I subsequently listened to the song, the idea stuck and I knew that was what I wanted for it.
I’m quite positive I would have had much more fun making such a picture with analogic tools, but the digital process was interesting as well: I shot all the textures I used that same day, and they include a blurry window with shut blinds and a brick wall, a building, tree branches, more windows, a spider I found on a poster, a bus stop sign with arrows, more photos of Shinichi and a couple of blurry takes of the basic photo. It took me a lot of work to effetively assemble all the parts, so perhaps I did nothing less than what I would have done in a darkroom (the only difference is that in Photoshop I could easily correct any misstep or mistake).
I can say I’m fully satisfied with this experiment, both on its own and in relation to the concept. I’m going to play with overlayed photos again in the future (as soon as I find some fitting concept, I don’t want to do that just for the sake of it).

This is the final shot from the session with Shinichi, now you can expect something totally different from my next session.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Breaking The Habit

Breaking The Habit by *GothicNarcissusI don’t know what’s worth fighting for
Or why I have to scream.
I don’t know why I instigate
And say what I don’t mean.
I don’t know how I got this way,
I’ll never be alright,
So I’m breaking the habit,
I’m breaking the habit,
I’m breaking the habit

[ Breaking The Habit - Linkin Park ]

Some time ago, I mentioned on my Facebook fanpage I wanted to shoot an Asian model. I had browsed through some photography portals but found no one I particularly liked, until my friend Dani introduced Shinichi to me. When we started talking to organise the photoshoot, I found out that not only did Shin have beaufitul features, but we were also on the same wave length on a plenty of things, so the collaboration seemed interesting since the beginning.

Eventually, things did not go exactly how we planned them. We initially intended to shoot with a formal look in an upper-class urban environment, but we had to change plans at the last minute due to several circumstances. So, we ended up with a more alternative, metal-like outfit, with a subsequent change of the basic concept of the session: I kept the urban theme but switched to something more industrial and hooligan-esque, opting for Milan Central Station for the set. This in turn allowed me to bring to life some older concepts I had almost shelved, so the session was very satisfying anyways.
Inspiration for this set ranged from my evergreen Theatre of Tragedy fascination to Röyksopp, which I’ve been listening to a lot in the last few weeks, up to my newly-rediscovered Linkin Park. As we were shooting in one of my favourite locations, Milan Central Station, I tried to include also some iron architecture elements in the photos.
During postproduction, I noticed the whole series had a strong cohesion, perhaps more than ever, so I decided to apply the same posproduction to all the photos, turning them monochromatic with a subtle bluish/reddish hue.

I’m saving one last photo for a separate post, as it is the odd one out and deserves a threatemen of its own due to its particular developement. Meanwhile, enjoy the main photoshoot:
Simple Mind by *GothicNarcissus Lounge In A Pose by *GothicNarcissus
Age Of The Streetfights by *GothicNarcissus Sombre Detune by *GothicNarcissus
Numb by *GothicNarcissus