Experimental Figure Study
A mix of bodyscapes, light painting, and Shibari I explore figure, form, and emotion in this series of images
I've always been a bit of a libertine. A hedonist with a penchant for a kink lifestyle even before I knew what a kink lifestyle was. I don't judge. We're all fucked up, if you ask me. Some of us embrace it while others... well, Oscar Wilde said it best:
“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.”
What I wanted to accomplish with this imagery is to explore the sensuality of the form and the taboo of the rope bondage, a practice known as Shibari, which originates from the ancient Samurai tradition of Hojojutsu. Hojojutsu was a practice of tying up prisoners, and the type of knots used depended on the social status of the prisoner, the crimes he was accused of, and the jurisdiction of the Samurai in charge. It was a method of torture and humiliation, and originally meant to cause pain.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's the practice began to morph through entertainment in theaters and began to become known as Kinbaku-bi, or "the beauty of tight binding", and was shortened to Kinbaku, or "tight binding." While Shibari is a Japanese word that Literally means "to tie decoratively."
My interest in the practice of Kinbaku in photography comes from a sense of exploring form and the taboo. I often work with women who are not professional models as a means to help build confidence about being in front of the camera. By doing shoots where they are bound in rope, we develop an intimate connection, not a sexual one, but one that they have allowed me to be that close to them, handling them as I do something to them by tying them. They often relax, and, when in front of the camera, they no longer have to think. The pressure to perform for the camera has been removed and so the photos tend to be more natural and relaxed.
I find the art of Shibari to be beautiful and fantastical when done well. The contrast of straight lines and the marks left behind on the skin - when it’s done with a partner, it’s a very intimate experience. When you use something like leather restraints or handcuffs to bind your partner, you’re tying them up to do something to them, but when you use rope properly, the act of tying them up is doing something to them, and that, in itself, is beautiful.
Whenever I work with women in this context, I do prefer that we have shot before, or that we have at least met and had an interview with each other. Before practicing any sort of tying of a partner, it is important to know about nerve centers and past injuries. Even medications and alcohol intake can create potential situations while tying. Having good clear communication is an absolute must. My start came from a working knowledge of knots from Boy Scouts and rock climbing, and I am always cautious with safety shears nearby in case of emergency. If you’re interested in learning, do not expect to be well versed and able to do complicated ties within a few weeks. I have been practicing for nearly 20 years and I would not consider myself a master because it is not a sole dedication, but a fascination. So please practice safely and enjoy yourself.
I also have the following series available on BentBox:
- Lisa in Bondage
- Manchester in Bondage
- Ali's Bodyscapes
- Nikki in the Park