Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Disappearance Of The Girl: presentation

Among the several music albums released last year, one of the most beautiful and inspirational was hands down The Disappearance Of The Girl by Phildel. Her music has got everything I love and find inspirational: delicate melodies, elegant arrangements, emotional depth and lots of symbolism in the lyrics. As ambitious as she is, Phildel also released a video for almost each of the songs in the album, adding some beautiful visuals to ther music.
The story behind her creativity and the reason why her music is so pristine, personal and intertwined with images is quite shocking: when her parents divorced, her mother remarried to an abusive religious fundamentalist who banned music altogether from the household, deeming it an unholy waste of time. Phildel, who was eight at the time, grew up isolated from contemporary music and forced to practice in secrecy at school during break. As music was such a huge emotional output for her, she started “visualising” melodies in her head in order to keep up her creativity, until she ran away from home and started a new life. Finally free, before she released her debut vocal album, her instrumental music made it to several advertisements on TV and on the net, including the Apple iPad 3 commercial.
Given all the circumstances, it’s no wonder hes music proved to be this inspirational not only to me, but also to my dear friend Luisa, who introduced me to Phildel’s music in the first place. She’s an artistically very sensitive soul, so was deeply touched by these songs, just as I was. And since I always love working with her when it comes to photography, we decided to take some pictures inspired by the album together.
We started talking about this project last year, but due to her job and my studies, as well as living very far from each other, we could not arrange anything concrete for a long time. Meanwhile, I kept brainstorming and gathering ideas for the photos, as the thought of making a whole series about this album really fascinated me. At long last, we arranged to meet this year in early May and set things in motion. 

From an aesthetic and technical viewpoint, this project is primarly photographic. Nevertheless, due to the delicacy and specificity of the symbols in the lyrics, it also requires some digital touches every now and then. I wouldn’t call any work a downright photomanipulation, though, as I’ve worked on actual photographs to a much greater degree than, say, the Infernal Lords. All the digital art is strictly aimed to enhach qualities already in the photos or, occasionally, give them a mystical or surreal twist to fit the overall mood and symbolism of the songs, rather than producing a brand new image out of thin air. So yeah, I’d still call all the works photographs despite some of them requiring some very laborious editing.
While being a huge fan and knowing the songs very well, Luisa is the perfect model for this series also due to her delicate, Pre-Raphaellite-like features, which naturally recall the kind of mystical imagery I wanted to allude to.

Now, if you’re afraid you’re going to face another long-term, slowly proceeding, never finishing series of mine, with a photo popping up once in a blue moon, don’t be. Due to the aforementioned constraints, this time we had to do it quickly. I brainstormed ideas for all the photos on time before Luisa came to visit me, we planned all the styling and make up beforehand, and finally we shot all twelve photos within two afternoons on consecutive days. It was quite a tour de force: we took advantage of every second we had to shoot, as the weather was constantly and rapidly changing so we had to fit certain photos which needed a particular mood and light into those narrow windows of time, or else we could not have a second chance. Also, differently from my usual method, I really did a lot of takes to be sure each photo was technically perfect, as all twelve had to make the final cut and be published. It was quite tyring, but very rewarding nevertheless.
Unfortunately, I could not bring myself to postproducing the photos until just recently due to previous commissioned jobs I had to work on, as well as exams and other business at university. As I mentioned above, I knew from the start that the postproduction would be a massive process here, so I rather waited to have my head clear of other business and be able to fully commit to this series. It is a very important work to me, so I just wanted it to be perfect, even if it took more time to complete it. So far, both Luisa and I are extremely satisfied with the results, so I can say it was worth the wait. I will be publishing one photo per day and I hope you’ll be enjoying them as well.

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