Friday, 4 January 2013

2012: Crisis and Rebirt

GothicNarcissus’ 2012 summary of Art
A bit late, here’s my review on what happened to me last year. To sum 2012 up in few words, I can say it’s been the year of my artistic crisis and rebirth.
According to my deviantART statistics, I published 167 works overall (excluding a few photos from the year before that were left in January), 49 of which featuing me only as the model, 35 being non-portraiture works and the rest being portraits I shot. Yet, if we analyse my timelime, we’ll see there is a huge discontinuity in the different categories: my work as a photographer peaked in the first four months of the year, then drastically declined during summer with the publication of just a few shots, then increased a bit in September and flourished again from October on. Meanwhile, what I did between May and August was mainly modelling, with Miss Lucy, my Canon EOS 1000D camera gathering dust most of the time.
So, what happened is easily said: I outgrew my equipment. After I purchased a 50mm f/1,8 lens late in 2011, which boosted the quality of my work, I was prompted to try and take more professional-looking photos. I also started to look up to professional photographers as my source of inspiration, so my ideas became more and more technically challenging. After a scanty January which only offered me the occasion of shooting some non-portraits of frosty plants, I had three very busy months in which I had five very satisfying photosessions; yet, I soon found out that while most of the photos were good – many of them being among my personal favourites – some could have been better, some needed a lot of work in postproduction to look how I wanted them to, while others were downright disappointing and were to be scrapped due to the limits of my entry-level camera, which didn’t allow me the freedom and technical quality I needed. After shooting Dance In The Dark in late April/early May, I had to come to terms with this: the difficulties I had to face with that photo, its light conditions and the huge amount of postproduction I had to do really brought me down. I had some kind of block whenever I took Miss Lucy out for some photos, which resulted in only a few non-portraits in May, one single portrait in June (for the Infernal Lords project), another one in August, and just a few photos in September; when I shot a few portraits in July, I used BriarRose’s Nikon D80 to shoot rather than my Miss Lucy.
What helped me get over my block was a pure stroke of luck: Giovanni Salvatore, a photographer BriarRose had worked with, sold his perfectly working Canon EOS 5D and I could afford the price. In between when we arranged the purchase and we actually met, I revamped Miss Lucy and got back to shooting in anticipation for the arrival of Evelyn, which occourred on 14th October (after an amazing brunch with Wiegenlied). Despite the very first attempts being rather frustrating (at first glance, because when I uploaded the photos on my MacBook I was astounished), Evelyn and I quickly grew to understand and love one another and I immediately started getting amazing results with her. I had three big sessions between mid-October and December and I don’t recall having been so satisfied in a long time.

Fortunately for my artistic year, at the same time as I blocked as a photographer, my model self was suddenly and unexpectedly released. I’ve already written about how much my session with Cunene helped me accept my body the way it is, and it really put me in the modelling mood for the next few months. So, while I was reluctant to shoot, I really enjoyed posing for DamaInNero, Massimo Caregnato, ContessaNera, Giulia Biletta and BriarRose. It was the first time I worked with analog photography (posing for Massimo), which was a bit weird but extremely fascinating. Also, after a really fashionable session with ContessaNera, BriarRose pushed me past my own limits once again having me pose almost-nude for an almost-erotic miniseries, something I would have never ever considered without her. I even dared try to apply for a casting by Cecilie Harris, although it didn’t work out. But well, that was really flying too high, and for the rest 2012 turned out to be a very profitable year in modelling.

Another interesting “collateral” experience was assisting other photographers while they were shooting. I helped The.Ory and another photographer with the lights on five occasions, with both reflecting panels and remote flashes. These experiences helped me learn a lot, in particular about how lights affect a subject and how different methods produce different results. I also got something of a photography-related job, as my friend Barbara from Dama proposed me to work with her recording studio if some band that got there to record needed promotional photographs or visual material.

One strange thing about this year was how I handled my projects. Beside developing two short-term projects with BriarRose, the Salomé miniseries with Cunene and the Fight Like A Girl series on our own, I kicked off two new long-term projects, Artpop Generation and Weather Systems, based on Lady Gaga’s music and Anathema’s latest album respectively; the former had a very quick developement, with a lot of works done in little time. I also defined all the details for two more project, although I’m still waiting to kick them off.
Nevetheless, my older projects were severely slowed down: letting alone the Murder Ballads, I only shot two Infernal Lords, the lowest rate per year since I started the project (I actually published four, but two were shot on December 2011; also, I shot only two in 2009 as well, but that’s because I started the project in October). I think the project suffered a lot from my block, but I’m curious to see what comes out with my full-frame camera now; but don’t worry, I’m still into it and I’ve also started writing a story about my Demons. Also, my Inspiration Hurts project slowed down a lot, with only one song-title and two collateral photos added to the series. This is entirely to blame on other people, as I had 9 photos ready to shoot, eight of which with BriarRose, but those who had to provide us with logisitc help such as hosting or driving us to the set locations backed up and screwed us over at the very last moment. I’m almost afraid the curse that was placed upon the Infernal Lords simply moved to this project, which would be annoying.

Now, 2013 has started with really big plans, some of which await confirmation wile others are already around the bend. But while we wait, here is my year month-by-month as of the summary above.

• January – On Most Surfaces: The year started all frosty and snowy. A I mentioned, I didn’t get to shoot with anybody, but I actually didn’t even try to organise anything because I was still packed up with a lot of material to publish from the year beore. Nevertheless, while I was waiting for a bus in Milan, I unexpectedly found snow and took some photos of plants covered in it, which was something I wanted to do since forever.
• February – The Wait: I had two sessions late that month, one with Shinichi, the first Asian guy I shot, and one with Deborah Luna. Both took place in Milan Central Station and were very fashion-oriented, but had totally different visuals, the first focussing on a more street-kind of imagery, the second drawing from the Thirties. For the first time, I really focussed on giving the whole sessions a coherent look.
• March – Cathedral Walls: This was the month that saw the birth of the Artpop Generation project. Alessandro Jonah modelled for its first two photos and also for a fashion-oriented session in the centre of Milan. I managed to blend my gothic roots with my new approach taking a step forward in the definition of a more mature style of my own. Also, I took a few non-portaiture monochromes I really love.
• April – Vincent: April was a really busy month. I had new sessions with both Deborah Luna and Alessandro Jonah, the former with a Fifties pin-up flavour and the latter going in a spring-summer fashion direction that brought a lot of light to my work. I also shot some cityscapes, as well as one of the photos I’m most satisfied with, a monochromatic portrait of Anathema’s lead singer Vincent Cavanagh, right at the end of an interview I had with him.
• May – Dance In The Dark: I was running fast and I hit a glass barrier. It was painful, I had to stop and understand how to get past it. Meanwhile I got back to modelling for Cunene, Massimo Caregnato, my mother and Giulia Biletta, while shooting a few citiscapes of Venice. That’s when I started considering the purchase of a full-frame camera.
• June – Agares: This is the only photo I shot that month, on the 30th. But on the other hand, ContessaNera and I didn’t meet since 2009 and it was great to see each other again. After I shot her for my project, she shot me on a very beautiful summer fashion series I really enjoyed doing. I also found out I was quite good at doing my own styling, which thrilled me.
• July – Fashion: July was a slightly disappointing month. Briar Rose came over and stayed at my place for a couple of weeks, but we only got to shoot few photos together because it was horribly hot and she was full of work. I only shot a small fashion-oriented session in Burano, Venice, which brought a lot of colour into my photography, but due to a sudden change in the light conditions I only saved four photos. On the other hand, I modelled for her on my first (slightly) erotic photographs, the Obsession series (which I’ll write about soon). We barely shot anything we had planned before, but the sudden gusts of inspiration were extremely rewarding.
• August – Confide In Sweetness: That’s really the only photo I took in the whole month, and I did because I didn’t want to miss Theo Hutchcraft’s birthday. It was a funny little thing, but overall that’s been my most uncreative month since I started taking photos.
• September – Magic Is Coming: I totally got into ABC’s Once Upon A Time and, in the eagerness for the second season premiere, I took one of my best self-portraits ever with the assistance of DamaInNero. I also shot a few monochromes of Venice, but nothing more.
• October – Scheiße: That was the month of my rebirth. I reserved Evelyn and, while looking forward to getting it, I shot some cemeterial photos and a few portraits with Miss Lucy. After I purchased Evelyn, BriarRose came over at my place again for two weeks and this time we worked hard (despite other people screwing us over all the time). It was difficult to pick one single photo for the summary, as we did a lot of different things, including me modelling, but I chose Sheiße because it was the most significant sigle photo I shot. Beside that and Bubblegum Bitch, we shot a whole miniseries inspired by Emilie Autumn’s latest album Fight Like A Girl in Venice, turning the city into our own Asylum. As the first big project I did with my new equipment, the result was far beyond my expectations.
• November – Somebody That I Used To Know: My plans for November included a trip to Belgium for Within Temptation’s Elements special concert. While planning, I looked for some handsome local model and found Tuur, who I immediately contacted to organise a photosession. This is one of my favourite works to date as it has a really fashion yet melancholic feeling, thanks to the amazing colours of the Belgian autumn.
• December – Rootless: Nitrogen Frostrhyme asked me for a photoshoot and I agreed, as I had a great time working with him back in 2010. What I did not expect was the snow that settled the night before the day we had arranged, which gave me the unexpected chance to develop a lot of photos I had sketched in my mind in the last few years. I love snow, so I was extremely eager to finally get to shoot those photos, some of which are extremely meaningful to me. The year closed where it begun, with snow, but with a growth in my artistry I didn’t really expect.

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