When did you first start doing boudoir photography?
I started boudoir photography back in 2006, I saw a gap in the market for high quality boudoir photography that could offer more of an erotic edge to it. Most other people were offering standard glamour styled services. I wanted to give people an alternative to allow them to have some more edgy, erotic and even fetish-based images. I shoot a range of styles based on what the customer is looking for.
Is it mostly women that you photograph?
Yes, almost 98% of my work is photographing women – some couples want the odd one or two shots together, but it is mainly the female who spends most of the time in front of the camera.
Do you process ‘real’ pictures or photoshop them as many magazines do?
I do very little photoshop, I don’t see the benefit of producing images that don’t look anything like the person. Through good lighting, careful posing and clothing choice you can hide areas you don’t want to see, and emphasis those areas that do want to be seen.
How do you make your clients relax?
I play music during a shoot which helps to give a good background atmosphere. I chat to them about the session, the types of shots we are going to do and what they want to get out of the session. Most often I state that “…it’s quite normal to be nervous, but after about 30 mins you will relax and start to enjoy the session. I want you to enjoy the photo shoot session and much as the photographs that come as a result of the session.”
Do the partners attend the shoot?
Most of the times, I do encourage them to attend if they want to. Some do, some don’t. I find it helps having them there as they often throw in ideas, poses they like and generally help to relax their partner. I show the images on the back of the camera as we go along and the positive comments the partner gives helps to reassure the other person.
How did you first get into fetish photography?
I began shooting glamour when I first started studio photography but it never really appealed to me, there was too much light and no shadow play. I developed my style through trial and error over a year or so. I got into shooting latex and then it progressed from there into bondage, restraints and other accessories. There are so many types of fetish that it does give a wide choice of interesting and visually appealing props and accessories. Obviously some people are not into those types of things, so I do vanilla sessions too, but still keep the edgy shadowing lighting as that’s my preferred lighting style.
Did it excite you or were you neutral at the beginning?
I don’t practise bondage or fetish as a lifestyle choice and I don’t get turned on or excited during a shoot. Well that’s not quite true, I do get excited when we get a super shot and have nailed a pose that really looks awesome. But as far as physically getting turned on I don’t, I find that when you have a camera between you and the subject looking through the viewfinder I’m concentrating on catering angles, shapes, textures and form.
You also video couples – is there a fine line between art and porn?
That’s a difficult one; I guess there is no definitive answer to this, there’s an old adage that ‘one man’s porn is another man’s art’. However, I do believe that how a scene is lit and the intention and viewpoint of the video’s storyline can position the final video either into a porn category or an artistic one.
When did you learn to tie ropes?
I learnt my ropes from a fellow photographer and Dom called Rod. It took me a while to choose someone who would help me to learn the art of suspension and Shibari but purely from an artistic point of view rather than as a lifestyle approach. From a photographic aspect there is the consideration of speed and looks of the final tie to consider, so I wanted a tutor who was a photographer as they would understand where I was coming from.
You now do full suspension – how long does it take, what does it involve and how much do you charge?
A full suspension can take some time to do, it’s about 15-20 minutes to tie and suspend depending on the complexity of the tie and the number of points on the body you are suspending someone by.
You have to be careful and assess each person before considering to suspend them. A person’s physical safety is the most important thing, you don’t want to damage someone’s nerves, either temporarily or permanently, or worse dislocate a joint.
I don’t have many private commission customers who want to be suspended, I will often do floor work with them and ties that are less stressful on the body. It is mainly models who I do full suspension work with as they tend to be physically fit and have toned and stronger bodies that can take the strain from the ropes during suspension.
Each person is different and has different tolerances, I’ve had models who could be suspended all day with no ill effects and they tend to zone out and go into their own sub-space. Whereas another model using the same tie and suspension method will want to be let down after five minutes, there’s no rules or standard guidelines when it comes to working with people – we are all different.
What do you now like about bondage?
I like how the ropes look visually, I tie mainly using Jute which is a natural woven fibre and when it is lit you get super shadows and texture. I love the way the rope becomes one with the body, a good tie means the person is temporarily restricted and has to change the way they pose or position their body, it makes them think a little differently as they move from one pose to another as they can’t use the same limb they would normally use if it’s part of a tie. I also like how the rope acts as a counterpart to the smooth skin, giving a rough more textured contrast, a good tie pushes and moves the flesh in a way that produces curves and interest.
Tell me about the temporary tattoos?
After the ropes have been removed and depending on the type of rope used and how consistent the pressure was of those ropes, the skin is left with a temporary rope mark, like a temporary tattoo. A well tied piece of bondage will have consistent pressure of the ropes onto the skin so if you have wrapped rope four times around a limb, when you remove that rope you should have four rows of rope marks clearly visible on the skin. Depending on the skin type and elasticity of the skin the marks can last for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
Have you ever been tied up?
No I’ve not, it’s not the sort of thing that appeals to me to be honest, I prefer to do the rigging.
Do you take pictures of your partner?
No, Jill believes she is not photogenic, so she looks a bit like a rabbit in the headlights. I don’t force her as she would not be a willing volunteer and that would show in the final image.
Models are sometime much under-valued by people outside the industry, a full time professional model is just that, a professional. They know what poses, looks and styles make them look at their best, they have a large selection of poses that they can pull from and they have the physical flexibility and core strength to pose all day without any ill-effects.
Many of my private customer’s feel a new respect for models after they have done a boudoir shoot as they have a few minor aches and twinges from the poses and positions they have got into during the session.
Tell me some of the funny aspects of fetish photography?
In the summer months many models often arrive wearing short crop tops and a pair of shorts and quite often travel by train. After a bondage session they will then leave with loads of temporary rope marks on their exposed skin and they forget that they will have to sit on a crowded train, while others view and consider where and what those marks are!
John’s private commissioned boudoir sessions cost £350 for the session, this includes a £200 credit towards product.