Today’s piece comes from my personal friend, Joy Celine Asto. Joy shows shares a piece of photographic work accompanied by a piece of written work that visualizes and originates from her interest in Greek literature and mythology. A truly spectacular execution of photographic representation of feelings, thoughts, and storytelling.
Reader Excerpts allow those who read Now Developing to become part of the collective by sharing a written piece alongside their images on a topic of their choice. If you have any ideas for a piece and would like to have it featured here, feel free to contact me!
Finding Inspiration in the Eerie and the Emotional, Written by Joy Celine Asto (Website)
In Greek Literature and Metamorphoses, Phobetor was the god of nightmares and one of Oneiroi, the sons of Nyx (the goddess of the night) and personifications of dreaming. Also known as Icelus, his brothers include Hypnos (Sleep), Morpheus (Dreams), Thanatos (Death), and Geras (Old Age). Traditionally, it’s Morpheus who specializes in appearing in human form. While Phobetor is an expert in appearing as various animals in dreams, he’s also in charge of nightmares and nighttime fears. Here, I imagine him “borrowing” Morpheus’ craft for a night, appearing less menacing but still unsettling.
This set is inspired by my love for Greek Mythology since childhood, and two nightmares that have made the most impact on me. One is about a floating white hand/glove that kept beckoning me out of my room, and was part of an interesting mix of a lucid dream and false awakening. The other was a faceless man who kept appearing in my recurring dreams; He would either be backlit so I couldn’t see his face, or I would wake up just as he would turn his face towards me. In these dreams, I was always supposed to meet him somewhere, and he was always the first to arrive in our meeting place.
Meanwhile, I met Paolo, my model for this shoot, a few months ago during a talk about literature and mental health. As one of the event’s speakers, he talked about his own battles with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and suicide attempts (his most recent being in February this year). However, I found his creative and expressive side easy to see on the get-go. I interviewed him straight after the talk, and proposed the idea of a collaboration after learning that he did a lot of performance art.
Four months later, I finally had an idea for a portrait shoot with him, and he was thankfully game with it. He said his artistic tendencies and interests typically veer towards the dark, the strange, and the surreal, so he liked the idea. I already had the camera and film combination in mind: my trusty Nikon FE2 and Kodak Double-X (5222), which was a no-brainer after the nice, contrasty results I got with it in a previous portrait session.
The shoot itself was very collaborative indeed – I’d throw him an idea or a scenario and he would interpret it with a pose. The location was also his suggestion, and it was in a mostly secluded spot that allowed us to shoot in peace. I’m also glad that we had all the props that we were able to bring that day. They somehow helped us steer the visual narrative into something that is both eerie and emotional.