Last week I posted wedding work, which is, naturally, intimate & unforgettable. This week, we're going to go a step further in the intimate portraiture game, behind closed doors (no, not the Achterkirchen honeymoon photos, you perverts!)...
Please note that tonight's post is about hook suspension, contains photographs of consenting adults that are somewhat violent & sexual in nature & NOT work or kid friendly.
BDSM (bondage/discipline-domination/sadism/masochism) is a lifestyle that, is, well, pretty self-explanatory, at least on a surface level. I'm not qualified to & am therefore not going to go into the mechanics, morals, or philosophy of BDSM here: for more information on BDSM & the sex-positive culture movement, click here, here, or here, or for Seattle-ites, here. What I can say is that the people I know on "the scene" are some of the most respectful, safety & education-oriented folks I've had the pleasure to meet.
Shooting portraiture is always an intimate thing for me, because I get to gain insight into & (hopefully) capture someone's emotional state-of-mind. How a subject feels about what they are doing in the photo, their self-image, how they feel about me, etc... it's all encompassed in the final product, & if I fail to make a genuine connection with a subject, it shows in the quality of the image.
The sensitive sometimes controversial nature of BDSM, my clients' preferences & my own professional ethics prevent me from posting any facial shots from this series. What I will share here tonight will be primarily process-oriented, with regard to how hook suspensions & needle-play unfold.
First things first: The "top" (person inserting the hooks or needles) measures out the locations to ensure the subject's weight will be evenly distributed, & to make the final product as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
"Wrapture", pictured above, brought crow feathers attached to needles, which were inserted under the skin to create wings. For her, being suspended is a way for her to participate in the creation of living art. "I have a lot of images that I want to create, & I can't paint," she jokes, "I want to be able to become an object, which for me is different than being 'objectified'". Wrapture has several more scenes planned around being an "object"; her next project is to create a "suspension bridge". "I wonder if I could make myself into the Eiffel Tower...", she muses.
Once the wings were constructed, Wrapture had hooks inserted in her chest, & was roped onto a pulley & suspended.
The other set of needles that evening were working on a young man I'll call "T".
"T"'s hooks were decorative (this is an understatement!). He sat patiently & painfully while the Top & his assistant drew out the pattern in pen, then carefully inserted the hooks & wove a sun pattern.
"Getting involved with the BDSM community saved my life", "Once you try it, you're hooked. Wait, is that too cheesy?", "The 'community' is it's own subculture. It's truly a lifestyle, not a hobby." These are all things I've heard from subjects on "the scene". What do you think? I think creative, intelligent, open-minded people doing interesting things makes for excellent imagery.