SPOILER ALERT: this project was a damn ROLLERCOASTER Y’ALL buckle uuuup cause I cycled through like a million ideas before arriving at my final project:
SO I want to keep working on the Giallo theme because it is very dear to me. I’d like to work on getting the characters I create out of the studio and into the word, give them a real setting. During the upcoming spring break, I plan to take some pictures while I am back home in Italy to get that really authentic Giallo look.
I’ve been watching various movies and doing some visual research on the look I want to create.
Phenomena (1985) by Dario Argento really stood out to me for the setting because I live very close to areas that look incredibly similar (italian&swiss alps views for dayysss)
Here is for reference some of the places around where I live:
And the view from my grandparents home which is even closer to the Alps (photos by me):
and here’s a cemetery I wanted to also photograph at (photos by me):
I really liked the architecture of it, would have made for some beautiful photos.
As inspiration for this shoot I also looked at editorial photography by Guy Bourdin:
Photography by Cindy Sherman (as usual, her Film Stills series never ceases to inspire) :
And Film Stills by Michelangelo Antonioni:
Loved the landscape shots that give such a huge sense of depth.
I also put together a mood board to help guide me while taking pictures:
Unfortunately this idea did not end up working out as the whole time I was back in Italy it was POURING rain the whole time meaning I could not take any pictures outdoors as planned.
So, taking inspiration once again from another Dario argento film, this time its the classicly sinister SUSPIRIA (1977).
The lighting in this movie is WILD (not to mention the set design as well). It really is incredible.
I also enjoyed Mario Bava’s lighting and visuals for Blood and Black Lace / 6 Donne Per L’Assassino (1964):
While doing research I also stumbled upon photographs taken by Andy Warhol in 1966 whose bright colors and compositions also inspired me:
I also looked at the visuals and settings of The Love Witch (2016) a film with a beautiful and bewitching use of colors:
I also put together another mood board for this idea to help guide the lighting for the pictures I planned to take (in the studio again this time):
Here’s a little test look of how I wanted my character to look at the shoot:
(I was stuck between being blonde or a redhead)
In the end, at the studio, I didn’t end up liking how the lighting was looking. Not many pictures came out great so actually, the test pictures done give a better idea of the lighting situation:
This Lighting color combo felt a little too bubblegum neon sign so I tried some other colors:
in the end, only 1 shot came out best with this lighting:
In the end, despite the photos being objectively good I felt a bit bored by them, they didn’t feel like they were reflecting the extent of my research and ideas.
ON TO …
So From this point, I made a decision to go back to my initial idea of scouting locations that would sustain an authenticity in line with the Giallo film style (IDEA #1). I wanted the photos to have an archival look as if they were film stills from a classic Giallo film that had been archived. To get this look I bought a vintage secondhand slide projector on eBay,
While searching for the slide projector I also came across many people selling boxes FILLED with old slides from old family vacations etc. The idea hit me that I could use those slides to “fill in the blank” of the setting for my invented Giallo film stills. I purchased a box containing 500 slides taken in Italy during the 1960s and sorted through the box to find slides that could work almost as backdrops for the pictures I was going to be taking.
Here are some pictures of the projections of some of the slides I was planning on using:
I then scouted for location in and around London where I could go to take photographs.
I was looking for locations that didn’t scream LONDON when you saw them as I was trying to create a more Italian landscape with my work.
One of the first locations I chose was the Hellfire Caves Mauseleum outside of London.
The Mauseleum has a very imposing prescence over a hill and I really want to shoot with that in the background.
The shoot for this location was going to be directed in a way that the protagonist (me) was attempting to run away from a pursuer, ending with the protagonist pointing a fake gun at the camera/pursuer. Unfortunately, this was not something that would work as I found that it is, in fact, illegal to carry a replica projectile weapon in public without a police escort – this was something I had not planned for, nor had time to organize. To work around this issue, I thought of using the ‘Death’ Card from my own personal Tarot deck (something that fascinates me and that I had been studying in the background of all this uni work). I was going to hold the ‘Death’ card up to the camera instead of the gun as a symbolic gesture. It would also add a theme of the occult to the Giallo (which is actually quite a popular theme in many Giallo films). Despite my efforts VERY ANNOYINGLY the majority of the photographs taken on location did not develop properly and were lost.
I WAS DEVASTATED. I’m not sure what caused this, whether it was a problem with the camera or the film. Here are the only pictures that survived (I had them developed and placed into slides for the projector) :
As at this point I was running out of time I had to quickly move on to the next and final Idea….
Inspired by the emphasis put on Tarot cards in my previous shoot, I thought It could be interesting to create a set of self-portraits inspired by particular cards that stand out to me. It would be interesting to turn the polaroid itself into a card- transforming it from just a photograph to an almost mystical object.
I looked at varoius different sets of Tarot Cards, with a focus on the Major Arcana (The Major Arcana are a suit of twenty-two cards in the 78-card tarot deck. Each Major Arcanum depicts a scene, mostly featuring a person or several people, with many symbolic elements. In many decks, each has a number (usually in Roman numerals) and a name, though not all decks have both, and some have only a picture♦)
I also looked to postcards and art from the early 1900s depicting celestial images as inspiration for their whimsical (and sometimes very DIY looking) flair:
Ultimately I chose 3 cards from my Tarot deck that stood out to me for their design and meaning; THE STAR, DEATH and THE EMPRESS.
For each card, I made a mood board to guide the shoot.
From these mood boards I made small sketches to outline how I wanted the pictures (backdrop, costume etc) to look:
I put together the sets myself in my living room and curated each look using fabric and different props. I wanted to mix together all the research I’ve done in this course to create 3 self-portraits that would have meaning and impact.
I used a pack of film per “card”. These are the pictures that didnt make it to the final cut:
I chose the ones that I liked best and then decorated the polaroid with silver foil and transfer letters to turn the polaroids into Tarot cards.
Here is the outcome!
I’m really pleased with what I have been able to create! it’s been a hell of a journey to get to this outcome but I’m so happy I embarked on it! I mean i’ve pretty much created like 3 outcomes but I think this one is the best and most complete.
I’ll probably have to frame these to go in the final show.