S&M. BDSM. Kink. Whatever you want to call it, alternative forms of sex and sexual activity are highly evocative. When I'm asked to shoot with a couple there is always a lot of discussion ahead of time. What are they seeking? Where are their comfort zones? What's off limits to the lens?
I find this kind of photography extremely compelling. I love the process of trying to capture an image collection that tells their story.
These images will always mean different things to different viewers. They were shot for the couple in the images and they're used here with their permission.
I asked Jamie to select five images for me and she chose these. I asked her why.
"When we play I kind of lose my grip. I am very submissive. T is extremely dominant. I guess that's why we fit together so well, right?" She went on..
"I see these particular images and I would honestly say that I don't remember these moments. But I remember the feeling. They make me feel warm."
There is pain in their play. It's one of the things we talk about before the shoot. I'm an almost absolute no judgement zone, but I am sometimes squeamish with too much pain. Years ago a Domme asked me to photograph a session where she was branding her sub. It was entirely consensual. He was paying her to do it. Her initials on his ass. I had a hard time concentrating and the images weren't great.
In this case "T" was using a heavy flogger and there were real "cracks" when it struck. This isn't posed. I am staying out of their way and they are following their desire where it takes them.
But this is part of the intimacy. Jamie wants to feel these sensations and T wants to create them. That is the relationship between Domme and sub, sadist and masochist. T's expression of her desire is playful. But I've seen serious Dommes as well. Neither is wrong or right as long as their healthy, life affirming and real.
Jamie said, "It's always this way. There is this buildup and then I just ache for her. I want her hands on me, inside of me, everywhere. I just want more..."
And for me, there is sometimes a moment when I realize it's time for me to fade away. Shooting with a couple doesn't have to involve actual sexual encounters. Intimacy sometimes wants its space. In Jamie and T's case we ended up having a fantastic Mexican dinner together with tacos and margaritas and lots of laughter and storytelling.
And in the end I gave them this story and it warms my heart to know it warms them.