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Author Topic : Fetish shoots: do you feel you need to be into something to make it work? 
 Peter_Birch



Thread Starter / Photographer
City: London
Country: United Kingdom
Member Since: Jun 10, 2010
Posts: 1141
Views : 2011  Sep 26, 2014 8:57am

Nearly all the commercial shoots I've done have had fetish themes, along with a fair proportion of those I've done purely as a hobby. Even when writing illustrated magazine articles I've almost always stuck to subjects I understand and appreciate and I've done my best to choose models who do so too, but just occasionally I've booked a model purely on the strength of her looks and modelling skills, generally with good results. So, models and photographers both, how necessary to you think it is to be into something in order to express it photographically, be it a fetish or a specific style?

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 Ace



Photographer
City: Reading
Country: United Kingdom
Member Since: Apr 12, 2006
Posts: 6422

There is almost a mistake to be made here. On first sight it seems obvious that the more you know about a subject the better you can portray it.

Thinking past that, when you have an expert view, there is a danger you may be too subtle/ knowledgeable for the lay man. Ever noticed how tourists photograph your home town featuring items that are mundane and ignored by the locals?

I guess a lot depends on the target audience. Are you aiming at the lay person or the expert? When I shoot commercial work I always have a product manager on the shoot or checking the shots not only for brand awareness but so the product is being used safely and correctly. I know how to make things look good and use their specialised knowledge of the subject.



Ace, Ace baby! on www.acestudios.co.uk

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MattMiller

Photographer
City: Southend on Sea
Country: United Kingdom
Member Since: Sep 18, 2004
Posts: 5750

1, To don't have to be into something to be knowledgeable about something
2, Being into something has the side effect of making someone knowledgeable, but its not a replacement for academia.
3, Fetishists are rarely into everything, photographers that tackle fetish subjects often have to cover a wide range of subjects which may not be their bag, this alone negates the you-have-to-be-into-it question.
4, Set-ups for convincing images often require deviating from the actual behavior, photographing certain fetish acts "as-is" may not always work as an image.
5, Arguably someone into a particular fetish and photographing, especially those that only photograph the fetish acts that interest them may be distracted from the process of image creation ... so a fetish photographer needs to reconcile if he/she is taking the images for the photography or the fetish itself.

On balance I personally think being into something is distracting or even detrimental to image creation,
I have my own fetishes (who doesn't) but I can only recall using any of them in images a handful of times, the result has been every time images that have not made the cut. ... The only fetish of mine that does make it into a lot of images is the minor one of liking bright red shiny lips but luckily this particular fetish lends itself well to images.

Conversely other fetishes turn up in my work all the time, I have even been accused of being a fetish photographer in the past, If the truth be told many fetishes just make me laugh which is why they find their way into my work ...

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 Razoir



Photographer
City: Crediton
Country: United Kingdom
Member Since: Jan 17, 2006
Posts: 5043

You have to UNDERSTAND it.

Much of the fetish photography out there is rubbish. Though, to an extent, only fetishists easily spot the difference.

You do not need to be able to perform surgery to be able to make good photographs of an operation BUT if you are taking photographs that need to be inciteful and informative (rather than just dramatic documentary) you need to understand what is going on.

QV. the large number of times a photographer will photograph a pair of bowl forceps. They look dramatic because they are an interesting size and shape but they are used for picking up a bowl!

This is one of those arguments that will never reach a proper conclusion as there are good, sensible factors on both sides. The fact that my side is, of course, right will not be allowed to muddy the waters!

Huge Hairy Jeremy

Website: www.photoartimages.org

Remember, Trolls' brains are silica based and only function properly at temperatures lower than minus 72 degrees Kevin.

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 Peter_Birch



Thread Starter / Photographer
City: London
Country: United Kingdom
Member Since: Jun 10, 2010
Posts: 1141

One of the reasons I seldom post to discussions is that I always find myself appreciating the points raised but wanting to qualify them, which would involve posts so huge I'd seldom leave the computer, never mind get any work done. That's certainly the case here, so I won't attempt to answer in detail.

One interesting point Razoir raises is that it often takes a fellow fetishist to know whether or not a picture works in the context of that fetish, so no doubt there are plenty of people blithely imagining they are taking good fetish pictures when in practise they may show technical skill, they may show art, but they don't express the fetish. I see a lot of this.

Some good points from Matt, whose main picture perfectly combines fetish and comedy.

Ace, not surprisingly, takes the professional's view, and I certainly agree that if you're shooting something you don't fully appreciate an advisor is handy.

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MattMiller

Photographer
City: Southend on Sea
Country: United Kingdom
Member Since: Sep 18, 2004
Posts: 5750

I think Razoir actually said when i meant to say about knowledge, understanding is a much better word for what I was thinking ...

One thing that has come to mind is what a big subject fetish is, there is all the stuff we see regularly BDSM S&M subjects etc but there is also the unintentional ... basically there is always someone somewhere who has a fetish for something even if you never considered it to be a fetish to start with, what I mean to say is a lot of fetish images are shot by accident. ... here is an example:


I just thought is was a clever idea to have a model bath in bubble wrap ... turns out from feedback and re-blogging its quite a well subscribed to fetish ... I had no idea!

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 Peter_Birch



Thread Starter / Photographer
City: London
Country: United Kingdom
Member Since: Jun 10, 2010
Posts: 1141

quoting post from MattMiller:

I think Razoir actually said when i meant to say about knowledge, understanding is a much better word for what I was thinking ...

One thing that has come to mind is what a big subject fetish is, there is all the stuff we see regularly BDSM S&M subjects etc but there is also the unintentional ... basically there is always someone somewhere who has a fetish for something even if you never considered it to be a fetish to start with, what I mean to say is a lot of fetish images are shot by accident. ... here is an example:


I just thought is was a clever idea to have a model bath in bubble wrap ... turns out from feedback and re-blogging its quite a well subscribed to fetish ... I had no idea!


Careful there. Anybody who's into shaving and bubblewrap is likely to have a coronary...

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 MichaelSmith



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City: Adelaide
Country: Australia
Member Since: Oct 31, 2004
Posts: 6142

Firstly, when shooting fetish there's a distinction between shooting fetish to cater to the interests of a particular audience who will consume that material mainly for reasons of pleasure (interpret that how you choose) and shooting fetish with what could be considered more broadly artistic intentions. The former has been around for quite some time (in the case of bondage, the first significant ventures into shooting bondage photos and films for commercial release were in the 1940's) while fetish art, while it probably dates back quite some time as an occasional motif for avant garde photographers, more substantial use of fetish imagery in photographic art probably didn't start to emerge in any significant form until the late 1990's.

Again in the case of bondage, the first widespread uses of bondage in non-commercial (and it has been mostly non-commercial) photography put forward as a more "pure" interpretation of the genre really only date back the last 10 years or so and coincide with the first internet modelling sites and gallery hosting sites, and the advent of TFP as we know it now, as all these things were the oxygen it needed to exist - TFP addressed the need to source models without paying out large sums of money that in most instances could not be recouped, and modelling sites and gallery hosting sites meant there was actually somewhere where the work could be feasibly and cheaply displayed. There has also been a constant tension between these two approaches, which has often played out in fierce debates previously on this site and elsewhere, with each side furiously marking out it's territory and denouncing the other side as getting it wrong.

So turning back to shooting fetish commercially - yes, it does help to have a personal interest in what you're shooting. I've over the years occasionally dabbled in shooting other fetishes in which I have no personal interest. Those attempts were rarely successful, because I had no understanding of the subtle nuances of those fetishes, the little things that are important to those that have those fetishes. But when I've shot something that is more aligned to what appeals to me personally, I don't shoot to indulge those fetishes but they do inform what I do and help me to produce something that will resonate more with the audience I'm aiming for. Of course, beyond that audience all that meaning is lost, and on forums like this, that usually when the fights start. And bondage is a niche genre, it's not something that anyone is ever going to make a fortune out of, and it is potentially controversial. So a personal passion also helps give you resilience for the many blows that will inflicted on you for your choice of subject.

So if you look back over those that have worked in the bondage genre over many decades, you'll find nearly all of them have a personal interest in bondage. Although, there is admittedly one notable exception, and that is Irving Klaw. He however was a shrewd business man, and he had a good understanding (notwithstanding his lack of any personal interest) and more importantly he respected his target audience and didn't judge them. His counterpart John Willie - and between them they were the pioneer producers of bondage imagery starting in the 1940's - on the other hand had a passionate interest in bondage, which personally I feel gives his work much more soul when compared to what Irving Klaw produced. But from all accounts as a business man he was quite hopeless. But in the end both suffered a terrible fate, literally hounded to their graves (and both ended up destroying large chunks of their inventory) when pursued by the Feds after the conviction of serial killer Harvey Glatman (who had a taste for bondage) in the late 1950's, which ultimately plunged the world of bondage imagery into near darkness for nearly a decade, before a new generation of producers and publishers emerged in the late 1960's through to the 1970's.

As for what is mostly non-commercial, and is generally regarded as more purely artistic bondage, a personal interest in the subject isn't needed. Some shooters of "arty" bondage don't have any personal interest in the subject, some are from within the BDSM/fetish community but are more drawn to this approach for whatever reason. Some "vanillas" who shoot fetish may even have a negative view of the more commercial side of fetish imagery - which fuels the fierce debates I mentioned above.

In some ways, I'd contend that shooting more purely artistic bondage almost works better if you don't have an interest in the subject, or at least can somehow look beyond what interests you to create a broader appeal for the images you are producing.

And as Matt mentioned, there is also the images which accidentally or inadvertantly appeal to a fetish or fetishes. One example would be an innocuous fashion photo where the model is wearing ballet flats - that is potentially almost porn to someone that has a ballet flat fetish. Some people collect scenes from mainstream movie and TV scenes where someone gets tied up. And fetish images that are intended to be more purely artistic may not necessarily be immune from appealing to others in ways that the creator did not intend.

As for models, I've worked with models who were experiencing being tied up for the very first time right through to models who were so into being tied up it was hard for them to act as a scared damsel in distress. On the modelling side there isn't a need for the model to have a deep understanding of the genre, all that's really required is that of course they are comfortable with everything that is happening in the shoot. If they have a personal interest in the subject it does provide some small advantages, mostly of a practical nature, such as models having their own ball gag. Also they often can handle more demanding bondages and gags, as mostly it's not their first time tied up, it may just be their first time being tied up in front of a camera. So for a model some personal interest helps, but is by no means an essential requirement.

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 MichaelSmith



Photographer
City: Adelaide
Country: Australia
Member Since: Oct 31, 2004
Posts: 6142

Oh dear, this place has declined. A few years ago if I made a post like above there would have been 28 people responding, hurling abuse and telling me why I'm wrong

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