I worked a lot with Dom in my last year of Sixth Form, and this was our final shoot together before he went off to boot camp to become a medic for the Royal Marines. That breaks my heart a little. He was so kind and gentle, so empathetic. Being hugged by him was like being under a very hard, muscular duvet.
He has family in Africa, whom he visits regularly, and when I told him I wanted to bring his heritage into the studio, he jumped at the chance. He brought in all the props and in his soft spoken voice, calmly explained to me what they were all used for. The red cloak is apparently for frightening away tigers, who are wary of the colour.
When I first did these shots, I had in mind a tribal portrayal of Ares, the God of war. On looking at them now, I would also be happy for him to represent Herod, the wicked king who tries to kill Jesus in his infancy, subsequently cause the Slaughter of the Innocents, when all the first born sons were killed. Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled to Eygypt to escape.
A few months ago now, when I was mentally preparing for a harsh season of university interviews, I went through a phase of only looking at pictures of smiling people. Positive energy and all that. I found this one, and something about it always made me unspeakably happy. It might be because it's very late and I've been blogging for about seven hours, but it's making me actually want to cry right now. I hope he doesn't die in Afghanistan or something terrible like that.