Daughters of Darkness is one third of my lifetime.
Twelve years spent photographing hundreds of models from all over the world, from every walk of life.
One could say Daughters of Darkness started in 2008 when I did the first photo shoot for it (unbeknownst to me at the time), but the truth is it started over a decade earlier in the mid 90s when I was first introduced to black metal and its imagery courtesy of Immortal and Cradle of Filth. Cradle are a band whose art perfectly goes hand in hand with their music. It was, and still is dark, beautiful, and often included nude women on many of their albums and most of their merch.
Like any metal fan of my generation, when you worship music… bands are your heroes, your gods and your local music store is your place of worship, and each album has the potential to become part of your foundation, as a fan of music, artist, and as a person.
For me that music store was Music Outlet in Enfield, CT. I would spend every Sunday there with a bunch of metal friends listening to albums, talking metal, sharing new bands we discovered. Most importantly, though, I wanted to discover more bands. While Cradle and Immortal were my intro to black metal, I immediately went to pick up the classics; Bathory, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Satyricon, Emperor, and every week I would flip through the metal records and CDs… If I found an album cover that caught my eye, but I didn’t know the band… I would blindly buy that album. Album art with corpse paint, a nude woman in the woods or in an occult setting, or a mixture of the two… nine times out of ten, it would be an amazing black metal or doom album and a band I would come to love.
This is how I found bands like Dissection, Naglfar, Gorgoroth, Tristania, Gehenna, Theater of Tragedy, The Sins of Thy Beloved, Dimmu Borgir, Setherial, and so many more that had that style of iconic imagery. I would always gravitate toward that dark imagery. These are the visuals that would temper and forge my eyes as both a fan of metal and a photographer.
Now, fast forward to 2008. I’m 50% music photographer, photographing bands live as well as their promo shots, album covers, magazine covers, and my work is in every major magazine on the shelf. I am also 50% fine art nude model photographer, photographing models for collections and galleries. Those two worlds did not collide until this project. Being that I had always equally but separately photographed bands and models, this was the first time the aesthetics of these two genres I photograph the most could collide into a single project.
Its 2008 and I am doing a photo shoot for my friend Karim, who at the time started a black metal driven clothing line NLSL clothing. He was having me photograph a shirt design, and the idea behind the shirt was to do a parody shoot to emulate Pulp’s This is Hardcore album cover. However, instead of a nude blonde woman, as depicted on the album cover, we would have a nude woman in corpse paint – and of course the text read, “This is Black Metal”. I shot first for the shirt design but being that both the model and I were fans of both black metal and nude art, we decided to do a few sets of photos in studio and around the basement of the studio. I immediately loved these photos. They reminded me of that excitement a decade earlier, finding this art, and buying the album based on that art. Daughters of Darkness had been born.
I photographed Daughters of Darkness in a few different ways. I photographed the models in traditional, fine art, and even fashion-lit settings in corpse paint, but I also shot non-traditional, metal, and creepy poses that are more fitting of black metal art. And, of course, black metal was blasting through the studio speakers each and every shoot.
I loved that these images showed the duality of beauty and beast, light and dark, soft and harsh, beautiful and evil. Anything that could be two, almost opposite things at once, had always interested me.
I always felt black metal had a beauty to it that other genres didn’t and couldn’t have. The melodies, the fast tremolo picking sounding almost violin like, the dark, cold, and grim atmosphere and evil voices cutting through it all. Black metal is my favorite genre, and I always find it as grim and evil sounding as I find it beautiful… With Daughters of Darkness I wanted to try to visualize that duality that I hear in black metal into these images.
Most of the models in this book are not only massive fans of black metal but they also did all of their own corpse paint which makes it their own creation rather than copying the corpse paint of known black metal musician. The models come from every walk of life… from personal friends, first time/only time photo shoots, professional models, actresses, musicians, and celebs, most of whom shot for this project because of their love for black metal.
The book has been an empowering journey for many of the models involved. Daughters of Darkness is as much their accomplishment as it is mine. Much like the bands who have become our heroes and gods we praise and worship, these amazing women show that they are too, heroes and goddesses to be praised and worshiped. Seeing these incredible women donning only corpse paint while their inner spirit is unleashed in powerful poses, showing their duality as beauty and beast, light and darkness, soft and harsh, evil yet beautiful, showing that they can be anything they want to be. They are strong, they are beautiful, they are grim, and evil. They are the Daughters of Darkness.