Casualties of the Journey

I have, in the past, posted pieces I had completed that were not published, mainly due to questionable quality or a concept gone awry. This time, I am posting pieces that were not published but I actually like. They are casualties of the journey, the soldiers that brought the idea home by sacrificing themselves along the way! Take this one, for example, the final piece of a process that involved four completed images before settling into what you see here, in "Death In The Afternoon."

The idea was improvised during the shoot, with the model playing with some poses and red fabric. With what he was wearing, his features and hairstyle, these was definitely something Spanish and matador about him, though we did not have a real matador costume during the shoot. When I started editing, I started trying to hone in on this concept and what I could do with it. My first idea was the concept of a young man practicing, training to be a matador, and symbolically what that could mean. I built up two images from the best shots of this "series:"

Sadly, although I like the tonal qualities and poses of these images, they didn't sell the idea successfully. Why was he practicing in a field? Why indeed - I do not have shots of a bull ring, so that was not going to be possible. Gradually, the concept evolved into the bullfight as a metaphor - learning to fight, the fight as a dance, the fight as growing up. That idea gave me this piece, with the working title "Learning to Fight:"

Now, I really like this image - I like the colors, the overall flow of it, so why not post it? Well, despite the concept being there, the pose is fairly static, placid, and the knives do not seem much of a threat, so this warrior in training seems a little inept, a little too posed, where more motion and action would work better. I wish I had those shots to do over, but I don't, so this one was left on the sidelines.

At this point I had three images with none of them exactly working well enough to sell the idea. Once i merged elements of both, I pretty much got my intent completed, using the pose from "Learning To Fight" and the field and environment from the Matador pieces:

It takes a lot of restraint and discipline to hold something you work on for a long time. I used to post anything I completed, and over time, I started removing the clunkers from my online portfolios, to publish only ones that I was confident with and proud of. Nevertheless, when you spend days working on something to make it as good as it can be, it's hard to put them in the folder and tuck them away. Especially these, which I classify as "close calls." So at least they can appear here, on this blog, as a little evolution of an idea, and how it got from beginning to end.

Thanks for reading and watching!

Michael Bilotta
March 3, 2014