Monday, 16 May 2011

How it all began… and went on

Looking back, I can’t quite recall at what point I “became” a photographer. I guess it happened eventually in a progressive, natural, non-dramatic way.
I’ve always regarded having a camera as something almost “exclusive” for, when I was a child, my mother’s camera broke and we couldn’t afford buying a new one for years. I bought my first digital camera, a Canon PowerShot A520, during a trip in the US in 2005. At first, I mainly took random tourist pictures of places I visited, or photos with friends and stuff like that, without any artistic purpose.
Always a late bloomer, although by then I had already been listening to gothic rock/metal for quite some time, I first got in touch with actual gothic imagery in 2006, when I was a styleless, short-haired, tanned 16-year-old. When I first came across pictures of such artists as Bionc7, Dream-Traveler, Kittynn, Princess-of-Shadows, Akourah, Tessaii or TheTragicTruth-of-Me (as well as other people not even on deviantART anymore like Parlami or Deemer), I was totally blown away and felt a deep connection. This prompted me to grow my hair and, in a few months, tighter and darker clothes, eyeliner and black nail polish followed, together with my first naive photographic experiments.

If I have to name two people who really influenced me to start taking photos with more aim, I’d say Bionic7 and Princess-of-Shadows. From the latter I took the habit of trying to make visual interpretations of song lyrics, while the former was basically everything I wanted to look like in my early days. Really, I thought Bionic7’s style was just beyond awesomeness. What eventually saved me from being nothing but a cheap Alex Casteels wanna-be were two things: first, I barely had any clue of how a gothic look should be (which is quite evident from my earliest photos) and, more importantly, I didn’t have Photoshop. I just couldn’t manipulate my photos anywhere near the way he did, so I had to find a path of my own, which resulted in a more traditional kind of photography rather than digital art.
At a certain point, around mid-March 2007, my mother joined the circus and started helping me, taking over most of the behind-the-lens duties and leaving me to modelling and directing: with her help, I could focus on more elaborate ideas and work outdoors. Working outdoors was the only way to disguise the poor performance of our absolutely non-professional camera, as light was better and visually impressive locations finally made the photos look better. My aim to take more serious-looking photos started what I call my “frame period”, the habit of putting a black frame around my photos to make them look more professional. My first year of what I now call naive experiments culminated in the then-awesome (and now kinda embarrassing) Seven Deadly Sins series and a couple of months later I was ready to move on to my next compact camera.
2008 opened with the purchase of a much better Fujifilm FinePix F480. Thanks to my dear Bloempje’s advice, I also learned to dare more with my look, up until I visited Camden Town and bought some really gothic clothes, getting closer to what I wanted to be and look like. I also finally got Photoshop CS3, which helped me improve the postproduction and make my photos look more professional, beside opening the gates to the digital art realm. 2008 also saw my graduation from high school and departure from my old little town, with a greater freedom to dress up in a creative way. Also, in October and November 2008 I posed for the last photoshoots taken with my compact camera.
After a brief creative limbo with sporadic and mostly meaningless photos, I had my first reflex experience thanks to my friend Ginevra and in the first months of 2009 I bought my first and current reflex camera, a Canon EOS 1000D I named Miss Lucy. This marked my departure from modelling to shooting and, together with the basic photography classes I took for some months, led to a huge improvement in my photos. I could quit the black framing as the photos could now stand up by themselves and with each photoshoot I did I learned something new and improved my skills and technique a bit. During my first year with my reflex I rarely posed anymore as I had much more fun shooting, but eventually I went back to doing both things every now and then.
Two years later I know I still have a lot to learn, but I like what I do and I hope I’m headed to the right direction. One thing I’m adamant about is that I always keep trying new things and looking forward to learning something new. I don’t want to just settle down on what I already can do, to what I know will please my audience, but I want to constantly challenge both myself and my viewers with something unexpected.
I thank you all – the models and photographers who work with me and contribute to my endeavour, as well as the people who appreciate what I do and, especially, those who critique it and give me advice on how to grow. Art is communication and I’m glad we all have so much to say together.

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