Friday 5.22.09 Part Deux

Ranting. Ready? Here we go.

I have attended some photography workshops in the past. These were great when I was getting started. I was able to network with other photographers, models, MUAs and stylists. After attending a few of these it became apparent that even with the best planning, things could fall apart and turn into a crap shoot. I use the term crap shoot both ways. Figure it out for yourself.

I have not planned to attend since then.

So, today I see a couple of ads for “Bondage Glamour Workshops” featuring Bondage “Superstars” of modeling. Hmm, seems interesting since I am also into bondage photography. I decided to take a closer look at who the models are and found that for the most part, none have much to offer in bondage work in their portfolios. I decided to take a look at who was rigging and found that one artist has a portfolio of fairly vanilla ties… the kind I sometimes see on bondage sites that show a lot of bright light, mostly clothed women with a hodge podge of rope or duct tape… usually in a hog tie position of some sort. I see these images on pay sites that seems to show image after image of a fairly attractive woman – milf – girl next door in some sort of artificial peril. I suppose they get some pay for their work and volumes of these images make money for the site owner. The other ad mentions guest riggers, but no more information that I can find. I suppose if I was really interested, I could contact some of the people involved and ask questions.

Prices vary. Number of models vary. Why do I care? I don’t really. It just makes me wonder about things based on my own experience with paid group shoots, models, bondage and taking pictures of bondage. I do not really have any opinion about what they are doing. I assume that the why is that they can make some money offering a workshop. I would hope that everyone that goes to it comes away with a feeling that they really got something out of it. And lunch.

When I shoot bondage… and I’ll back this up to say when I shoot bondage “now” because it was not always like this… things are planned a little bit in advance. I do my own rigging. I continue to study it. I continue to try to discover some new things. For the most part, the tie takes more time than the actual time shooting the tie. What I do not want to do is tie in a half-assed manner and then shoot 500 images for no reason at all.

In my mind, there is model photography and then there is bondage photography. These differ. If I am shooting a model without rope a lot less planning and a lot more seat of your pants shots can be taken, even if there was a plan in mind. With bondage photography I’m looking at it a little differently. First off, any of these shots is something completely set up. The lights and the rope do not magically fall onto a model in the result you see in the final image. This is planned. Studio bondage photography for me is more of a combination of art nude or something artistic WITH creative rope work. I usually sketch out a plan if I am going to try something new or more elaborate than I had done previously.

Prior and/or during this time there is communication going on with the model. She will not come in here completely unaware of what we are going to do. When it comes time to tie, all other things are in place… just in case. I do not want to have to go get or do something away from the model when she is in rope. By now, all of my lights and backgrounds are set. If minimal rearrangement is needed of lighting, it can all be done within a few steps. Extra CF cards, camera batteries are ready. Safety shears are right there if the rope needs to be cut in an emergency. The light has been metered and the camera set accordingly. There should be nothing I have to do away from the model other than to stop tying and pick up the camera to shoot.

We begin the tie. For a suspension shot, things are usually built up gradually. A chest harness, something around the waist… these may be more decorative. Arm, leg, waist, torso supports are planned a little in how they are applied as elements of these can be used to bring things together for the suspension. During the tie, communication is needed. If something is uncomfortable for the model, she must tell me so that things can be rearranged as needed. Rope is loosened and repositioned in ways to not pinch nerves. Weight distribution is considered. Even though some of my images show what looks like someone suspended WAY up in the air… they are only really about 3 to 4 feet off of the ground, sometimes less.

As you can see in this shot, Trinity was tied while sitting on a stool. When it came to the legs, her feet were on chairs to each side of the stool. This way, she did not have to hold her leg elevated in place while I tied. After each leg was ready, the chairs were removed. Her arms were positioned last. Once all of the rope was ready and I was sure that we had a good balance, I lifted her up and removed the stool. The suspension was balanced and not too uncomfortable. While she was suspended, I grabbed the camera and began to shoot. Since she was suspended by a central ring, I was able to turn her and take pictures while remaining in one area with the original light setup. The whole shoot time took less than 10 minutes if even that much. I lifted her back up and down on the stool… and untied her.


Some final images revealing rope marks were taken and that was pretty much it. I felt that the plan was good, the model was well aware of what to expect, that our communication was good and that I was able to get several good images from the effort.

So what does this have to do with the workshop stuff? I am not sure. I do know that for me this has been a learning experience and with bondage you probably do not want to resort to much trial and error work. The end result that we both were looking for in these images was just that, images. Although we have a partially nude woman here… there was nothing sexual or erotic about the shoot… believe it or not. I think it is kind of like going to the doctor. You go to the doc and whip out your junk when something is wrong with your junk… and the doc just wants your junk fixed while not really caring much about the opportunity to see your junk. Kind of the same here. On my end of it is the production of something. If that something causes people to experience something pleasurable by looking at the result, then what we did worked.

I think that there are a boat load of places to get information about this type of work. I was skeptical about the workshop idea because when I went to look at the examples, there were none. Or, there were not many good ones. If you are a bondage photographer… or someone that is interested in doing Bondage Glam… you might consider really doing a lot of studying and practicing, then spend what you might spend on a seminar on an experienced model willing to work with bondage. Focus on one or two ideas and build from there.

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