Save 20% on Awesome and Plus accounts with Our A+ Back to School Sale Upgrade now

In October I set out to do a series of focused images revolving around a central theme of loss of innocence, or passage into adulthood. I decided to use the red balloon as the main symbol weaved throughout the series, implying innocence lost, or hopes unattainable and dreams abandoned.

While I didn't know how many images the series would have, after #11, "Peter's Epilogue," it felt like it was time to move onto other things, which I have with two new models and a new series of images created from the recent shoots with them. But there was one theme of childhood/rites of passage that was not addressed or explored: sexuality. Specifically, sexual awakening.

Anyone reading this that has passed puberty knows what a frenzied, introspective and overwhelming process this can be, and discovering your rapidly changing body as sexual is one of the most defining periods in a lifetime.

Much to my delight, and not known before doing some reading, the balloon, in Freudian dream analysis, is a symbol for male genitalia, or erection. As is a hat. This was great news as I put this piece together, as I have been using hats and balloons a lot lately in my images. So a flying hat…a filled balloon rising, a boy becoming a man seemingly climbing the walls of his room…it all fit nicely into a Freudian collage of male sexuality.

Putting this austere image together took a lot more time than it seems to warrant. Most of it was trying things and learning what was needed and what was not. It seemed any object I placed in the shot was obtrusive and invasive. So the paring down to just what was needed and where to put them. took two days of trying. Another big change is the lack of texture in the shot. I do love my rough textures, but this one insisted they be tamped down to almost nothing. The wallpaper was another difficult edit point - starting as a square that had to be cloned to create a larger pattern, and then merged with the second "wall" and a perspective transformation was added to give it the correct depth, as well as a very gradual blur to simulate a shallow camera-like depth of field to allow the model to stand out of the wall background.

I think this addition to "the Red Balloons" is a needed one, and I'm glad it insisted on being born.

Thanks for viewing and reading.

model: Gilberto Mendez

Discover more inspiring photos like this one.

Download the FREE 500px app Open in app