Saturday, 19 December 2009
A photographer is someone who, through the medium of photography, seeks to create images, as a goal unto itself (those working in a professional or semi-professional capacity are using these end-products to make some money, but the photos are the first goal as they are the means to the ultimate goal, making a living!).
I have noticed among discussions recently that for some photographers working in the fetish world, the motivation and aim may be different, a classification has come to my mind (as a means of understanding only) of 'Photography Fetish', this is someone who enjoys, as a directly or indirectly sexual activity, taking photographs. There are many possible aspects to this from photographing something that is sexually desirable (from boobs to shoes) to the process of control that is necessary when photographing people (do this, do that, pose like this etc.) to a vehicle for voyeurism (watching others do something, semi-remotely).
This can seem alien to those of us with different motivations, especially when a conversation is had and the expected masses of commonality is shown to be very sparse, but lets split it down for a minute, essentially a 'photography fetishist' is someone who is loving some or all of the process of photography, and surely that applies no matter the subject? I myself doggedly persue genres of photography that pay very little, as a professional photography why do I do this? because I love creating beautiful images, not that different is it?
This can apply equally to those who love photographing wildlife, as do I, that process of being close to nature and capturing it in all it's glory is as great in itself as the finished images.
I know there are many professional photographers who are cold and hard about 'the job' but why did they get into that line of work in the first place? I bet they loved it at some point way back and that love has been lost, they simply need to augment their photography with subjects, genres, styles, subjects that appeal to them personally as well as them financially, their lives and photography will improve greatly if they do so!
And then they'll find themselves edging closer to the Photography Fetishists who are doing it solely for the love of it. It's just the same as that old 'amateur vs professional photographer' argument, it's the photographs that count when it comes to the qualities of the photographer and amateurs are often better than professionals on that count.
So is a 'photography fetishist' a better or worse person than a 'Fetish Photographer'? based on motivations alone, no, they're not better or worse, just different, vive la différence!
(I hope this makes some kind of coherent sense! I kinda rattled it out in 10 minutes without thinking it through)
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
A title with two meanings, incidentally it’s the make of camera I first bought
in 1996 when I started taking photography a little more seriously, but it’s main
meaning is a peak, and in my photography I recently reached a major peak.
My photography started out with landscapes and nature, and that was the bulk of
my work for years, however I had long been an admire of the art nudes, as many
reading this will be, after some encouragement I decided to give it a try, my
first nudes photoshoot was in 2004, I sold one of the first photos of the day
within a couple of days, I loved it, and it seemed I might even be good at it!
So I had a look around the internet to try and find the best models in this
business, the art nude models, the very best, I was on a mission! I worked with
quite a number of very talented models over the next few years, but the one at
the top of my list constantly eluded me, her name is Joceline and she needs no
introduction J try as we might we were just never in the same place at the same
time with time to spare.
Roll on to September 2009 and I was (and still am) in the midst of having a
documentary made about me and my photography, I planned a shoot in a dance
studio and was hoping to get around 6 models into our time there, all shooting
solo, I contacted many, and most couldn’t make it, when it came down to it there
were just two models who could make it, and one of them was Joceline, I was a
very happy man, I could spend all day pointing a camera at this lady.
On shoot-day we all arrived at the dance studio and she was already there,
looking every bit as amazing as we could have possibly hoped, while we were
still setting up she slipped on her pointe shoes and glided down the studio, the
world stopped, there was a gasp or three and at least one damp eye, this shoot
was going to be something else, and it was indeed.
I’ll let some of the images speak for themselves now….
It took my 5 years to get some time in a studio with this
lady, on reflection there are several things that come to mind, 1) if I went
blind today I’d not feel unfulfilled about my time as a photographer. 2) any
model I shoot with in the future has got an astounding level to aspire to! 3)
she was worth waiting half a decade for.
My infinite thanks and admiration go to Joceline
Sunday, 4 October 2009
Friday, 18 September 2009
On Tuesday morning the weather forecast for rain (monday was sunny, wednesday was sunny, just tuesday, bugger) came together nicely. I met up with Red Kali and Lex, my models for the day, at St Pancras station and we got to our destination, still raining, but the documentary-maker-dude was pretty enthusiastic and we decided to get the best we could, so off we went to the woods!
The rain held-out just long enough to get the rigging points in the trees (which took an hour and resulted in a minor loss of skin and blood on my part) and I got the girls up in a double suspension, about 5 feet apart, standard face-down horizontal suspension and had their hands attached to the others so they could pull each other around, which was pretty cool, then I span them both around a bit, which by all accounts looked fabulous on the video camera.
By the time we got back to the station it was raining again, so thanks to whichever higher power held-off the rain just long enough :-)
Coming up tomorrow (saturday) we're in a dance studio, I'll have joceline (.co.uk) doing a variety of things, mostly not wearing much and mostly looking eternally and supremely graceful (while I fumble around like a muppet sliding around in my socks, no doubt), along with anyone else I can get at short notice having had some cancellations :o( boooo
While I'm here, I'll share my favourate photo at the moment, this is solitaire...
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Mostly I've been pointing my camera at pretty things (nothing new there then), also I was filmed the other week, I'm not a big fan of being infront of a camera so when I had a video camera pointed at me while we were filming a trailer for the documentary thats being made about me it was a first, and actually not that bad.
The main model involved was Lady Blossom Who I'd not yet worked with, though my partner Jan has been doing some awesome work with her over the last year or so, For the trailer we needed a shot of Lady Blossom in Bondage, so very late the night before the filming we did this:-Which was just perfect, very well captured what was needed as an ingredient for the trailer.
I'd lined up a second model for the bit with Lady Blossom in but due to a fuggy (good word that) head I'd booked her for the following week!, thankfully Vish had popped along as I've not seen him in ages and ended up with a main role with Lady Blossom! good work that man!
Big thanks also to AlexB who was fabulous alongside me :o)
More later in the week!
Sunday, 26 July 2009
But tied up women? Where is the freedom in that?
Look first at my wildlife photos, wild animals are free, the very image of freedom, same for my landscapes and wide open spaces, the viewer feels free surrounded by such things.
Now look at my nudes, the outdoor location ones first, a beautiful woman in a beautiful environment, roaming free within it and indeed becoming part of it, there is obvious freedom in the imagery there. Nudes in the studio environment are also exhibiting a freedom, of their bodies and of self expression, they are freely expressing themselves, usually in a very classically beautiful and pure way.
Now to the bondage, is someone who’s tied-up free? That depends on two factors, are they willingly tied up and are they feeling good having been tied up? The women I tie up say yes to those two things. Freedom of self expression, freedom to throw off the responsibility for, well, everything.
Consider this possibility, you have a busy and hectic life, full of responsibilities with people and things depending on you, how would it feel to switch that off for a while?
When someone submits to bondage they are no longer able to act on any responsibilities, no matter what they may be responsible for they cannot do anything about it, is it 6pm yet? Do they have a report they must work on? Is someone expecting them somewhere? Do they need more bread and milk?
None of this matters as they cannot act on it, they cannot even scratch their own nose, the binds free the mind, they even hand over responsibility for their own wellbeing (to a large degree).
Is the model posing in the woods while keeping a watchful eye on anyone else around who might catch them free in this way? Is even the bird keeping an eye-out for predators free in this way? Different people like being tied in different ways, at different times, for different reasons, but this example is very common.
Now to respect, it has been said that I show disrespect for women by portraying them bound, weak and vulnerable. Firstly it takes an enormous amount of inner strength to hand yourself over willingly to someone in this way, Secondly I have the utmost respect for those that do. The women who I tie up know themselves deeply and are strong enough to express themselves any way they wish, and they wish it this way, does this sound weak and vulnerable to you?
I don’t mind what different people see in my photographs, infact I love to hear the wide range of things people see in and feel about my photographs. I feel a photograph is 75% reflective, you see aspects of yourself in it, if you see a weak and vulnerable person, 75% of that is within you, if you see a model portrayed in a disrespectful way, 75% of that is within you, if you see beautiful, 75% of that is within you.
I take beautiful photographs of beautiful things, and the freedom for a person to express themselves any way they see fit is a very beautiful thing.
Friday, 10 July 2009
I've also made these available for commercial licensing HERE (slideshow), & HERE (thumbnails) - Priced from $80 USD.
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
This is a first in a few ways, it's the first time I've shot a set of images inspired by and primarily for a specific event, information page for the event here - www.japaneseartropebondage.blogspot.com - The bondage I do is not pure shibari, it's not pure anything, I am inspired by ropework from many places, rigging on ships, macramé, shibari, anywhere and this blends together into 'my style' (if such a thing is definable), this set is a salute to the commonly held origins of rope bondage as we know it in the west, Japan.I planned this shoot with several elements,
1st I needed a japanese model, no problem as one lives not far from me and I worked with her a few months ago on my current book.
2nd I needed a setting, luckily my home has wooden floors and bamboo screens around the computers, and we'd just taken delivery of several tatami mats.
3rd thing I needed was alot of hemp rope, something thats not a problem around here as I use it all the time.
My model for the day also brought along some beautiful kimono, which added alot
to the feel of the set. We worked together for most of the day, trying a few
ties and a few changes of kimono and the editing of the images took a further
I had them printed with mounts on 10x12 paper complete with my
logo/stamp on them, as seen above (and a larger slideshow below in a previous
post), they are all framed in black wooden frames and labelled with their
details, most significantly their status as 'unique editions'.
The idea of unique editions is a new one to my photography, previously my work (that isn't specifically licensed for a use) has been open editions or limited editions of 10 or 20, a unique edition has only one print made of it for sale and there will be only one copy to own. I hope this
completes the bespoke nature of this set of 20 and reflects the time, thought and effort that went into the creation of each and every photograph.
They will be available from the event for 4 days at the end of this week in East London -
www.japaneseartropebondage.blogspot.com - and any remaining will be available via my websites and possibly future events.
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Most of this year I've been shooting a very raw style of bondage for my book,
London ReBound, recently I shot a set of photographs in a much more creative style, a much more involved and cathartic process, resulting in a final set of 20 which will be shown at and available to buy from The Art of Japanese Rope Bondage event at the end of the month as unique-edition prints, only one of each will be made.
And for you, previewed below...
Thursday, 28 May 2009
Yoshihisa Maitani, one of the first superstars of camera design, olympus.
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
A surprise today, I'm all over Amazon.com!
I just had an email from my publisher that they've just got my books onto
London Bound is HERE
Fine Art Nude Photography is HERE
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
(come on that was pretty funny).
I've finally got around to adding the models section to my bondage website www.BeautifulBondage.net/models - free listings for models doing bondage work, targeted specifically at that market, filling the gap between regular modeling sites and regular fetish sites.
Any bondage models, come and get your free listing..
Anyone who knows any bondage models, tell them about it!
Anyone who needs a bondage model, yea, you know where to come - BeautifulBondage.net/models
Saturday, 9 May 2009
I've never really bothered much with logos before, when we started our commercial photography company it was something we had to do, so we came up with:
A nice twisty thing for the twisted, worked well and took us about 2 weeks to come up with, infact we didn't come up with it in the end, one of Jans old contacts came up with it, in about 5 minutes.
Recently I decided that in order to better promote myself as a brand, a logo would be helpful, after a few weeks of thinking and trying a few things I came up with this,
the basis of the design is an Ouroborus, which represents alot of things to alot
of people, to me it's about perpetuation as many many times in my life I've
faced all kinds of problems and challenges, but I kept going, I was the only
constant in my life. The Ouroborus is also a serpent and as I'm a dragon in the
Chinese zodiac I identify with this aspect also.
You will notice the odd striped markings on the body of the Ouroborus also,
these have a double significance, firstly it's a not to the commercial
enterprises I'm involved in, most notably Twisted Photography, TwistedUK Ltd has
a number of entities within it and the twisted logo is a constant between them.
Secondly the twists resemble rope, which is something I'm rather well known for
my involvement in as a professional rigger of rope bondage.
The ouroborus here has a spiked armoured spine and a soft inner belly,
figurative of a hard shield tough exterior and a protected gentle interior, both
aspects of my character.
The final ingredients are my initials 'MV' within, which is pretty much self
And thats how I came to structure this, my logo. :o)
Thursday, 30 April 2009
There are also some new photos added to the nudes section which has been split into Location Nudes for photos outdoors and on-location, and Studio Nudes for the nudes taken indoors and, you guessed it, in the studio (who says I'm not creative?!).
I've also updated and split the General gallery, separating the wildlife to it's own section.
My books have their own galleries also, Beautiful Bondage (2006), London Bound (2007), Fine Art Nude Photography (2007) and coming later this year London ReBound (2009).
I also ported the two bondage books' galleries to my Bondage website which had a makeover of it's shop and an information page for rigging services as I've been doing alot of ropework for other photographers these past 12 or so months.
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed my new logo which is stamped on images and used in various places, new this-year, more about that in a future blog.
I give away a free calendar every month for your computers desktop or to print
out for your wall, here is May 2009.
Saturday, 18 April 2009
In 2005 my friend/assistant/apprentice Johnny came to me with an idea, he was
a final-year student of media and he had to come up with an idea for a
final-year project, and he wanted to do a book "we could do a book" (you see how
that works? he needs to do something so 'we' could do a book?), he said, bloody good
idea I said. At the time I was shooting alot of rope bondage in a fine-art style
and really wanted to do a book that mixed the 'how-to' with the art, so that's
what we did, 'Beautiful Bondage, the art of rope bondage' was born.
In January 2006 our model flew in from Scotland, the problem was it was Friday
the 13th and so everything went wrong, my car broke down on the way to the
airport, Johnnys car was blocked-in to his garage by a neighbours car, who
couldn't be found, when we finally got organised, collected the model and got to
the studio the security guards had locked us out and it took us hours to get in,
a rubbish start to the project, but is was a start. Over that weekend I set up
the lights, Johnny took the photos and I tied the rope (in between I was eating
pizza, Johnny was dancing to Trance and the model was utterly bemused).
The above image is from another shoot by the way, thats Marie who I'd worked
with alot the previous summer and this photos was chosen as a better option for
the cover, as we hadn't thought about a specific cover image when we were
shooting the content (first book, lesson learnt), Rella features throughout the
book, an example section is below...
This was my first book, even though it took first Johnny and
then I many weeks of fiddling and re-fiddling to get it looking how we wanted,
we managed it, it was worth it, we love it.
Thanks for getting me motivated to start making books Johnny,
Friday, 17 April 2009
This march was my 33rd birthday and a reflective time for me, as the fine-art-nude is the one photography style I love above all others I've taken a little trip down memory lane and chosen 33 images from my archive, covering the few years between my beginning to work with the nude and my move to London three years ago, so these were all shot when I was in my 20's.
I hope you enjoy my selection and perhaps gain some insight from the information shared with them.
In no particular order, this is a dancer named Amber with whom I spent some time shooting figure styles, she learnt how to model in some new styles, I took some nice photos, including this one, in lingerie, bringing some irony to a collection of nudes.
This second photo was a classic early-morning shoot, the model stayed-over the night before and we left at about 5am when it was still dark, we arrived at the location as the sun was just starting to light the sky and we had a mouthful of coffee each and ran down to the beach where we found the tide to be in, instead of out, and the noise of the waves on the rocks made communication
impossible without waving arms around, so the model, Veronik, was briefed to 'go down to the waters edge and wander up and down a bit', which she did while I scrambled around on rocks grabbing anything that looked like it could work as a photo, this one did, we wrapped and headed to town for croissants and more coffee.
This third photo is the same model as above, taken on another visit, I rarely work with clothes (on the model!) but I love the textures and colours in this with the blue jeans and warm smooth skin.
Photo number 4 and this comes from my very first nudes shoot, I talked a local model into modelling for me after showing her my other work (to prove I knew how to take a photo) and some work by other photographers in the art-nude genre (to show her what I wanted to do), she said yes so I did what anyone would do and took her to the most distant, remote bit of secluded woodland I knew of, which just happened to have an amazing spread of bluebell flowers.
I mixed a traditional black & white art-nude with a colourful background of the greens and blues to create something unique, and I've still not seen anyone else do this.
This is the same model as above, Nicola, and a black and white from later the same shoot, here I gave her my hat as a prop (I used to live in that damn hat) and took a high-angle to frame her against the rough floor of the woods.
I really was spoiled for locations when I was living in the countryside, this was taken on an old wall of granite which was near a reservoir up in Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, the sky was blue, the model was nude, the photographer was 5 metres away keeping one eye on the car park and the other on the exposure.
This is the same model we started with, Amber, again moving through some figure poses, in my studio in Cornwall, England, lit by halogen floodlights diffused with sheets of white paper.
I started shooting in the studio with halogen floodlights for 2 reasons, they are cheap and they show me exactly what the camera will capture, the light doesn't change at all when I take the photo so I could create a photo and capture exactly what I could see.
This is Selene who came down to see me for some outdoor nude figure photos, which I was doing alot of at the time, sadly it was late in the season and the weather was unpredictable, today it rained, so we sat in the studio (which was unfinished at the time) and created, among other things, one of my favourate portraits.
Here I was playing around with lighting angles and some fabric props trying to capture a mood, this is Josie who I worked with several times, here kneeling with some pink fabric, I just loved this shot even before I took it.
This is Josie again with the latest thing in heavyweight jewellery, not really it's industrial chain, zinc-plated and polished and looks good against skin, this is a prop I still use often, this was probably the first time I used it. I love it's shine, I love it's lines and I love the skin tone and body's framing of it, and indeed it's framing of the body.
This is Marie, with whom I did a few shoots, seen above in photo number 6, she is here on an early morning beach shoot (I got the tide times right this time, the tide was out when we got there), I love the textured ripples the water had left in the sand, add model, get a nice angle and then you have this.
This is Amber again, here we headed to the dunes for sunset, as a dancer I basically gave her some space to work in (literally I scraped a box in the sand) and just asked her to move, and she did, and I pushed the buttons and captured everything I could, including this ingenious 'handfulls of sand look great in silhouette' photo.
My thanks to:
erosion for the sand,
god for the lighting,
the model for the sand idea
and Olympus for providing a button for the monkey to press.
Here we are again with Marie, in an old granite quarry this time and there we found a heavy industrial looking cage thing, I love the contrast of smooth skin and industrial settings, especially when you add the texture of granite.
This is amber again and in the studio with an example of hand tinting, I was never very good at this in the darkroom but now in Photoshop a nice bit of hand tinting is much easier and I do like the effect it brings to a photograph, like all fancy techniques you do have to be careful not to do it too often and be very choosy about how and when you do use it.
On a trip to Scotland I used a studio that had a great brick wall coated in varnish, which I ended up using more than the seamless.
Here the use of a warm light and a daylight white-balance really adds warmth to the wall and the skintones.
One of the great advantage of being very tall is high-angle photos like this, taken in a field close to where I lived in Cornwall I just love so much about this photo, the skintones, colours, flowers, romance, lines and angles, all very attractive to my eye.
This photo was taken when we were out shooting a commission for a magazine, I just loved the angle and lines of the torso up to the legs, so I kept this one very much for myself.
It looks a bit moonlight, it looks a bit infrared, but it's neither, shot in daylight in an old quarry, this is Marie stretched out on an old tree, underexposed photograph with a slight tint added after a B&W conversion.
This shoot was a memorable one, taken in an empty room in which the model had put on a heater to make sure it was warm enough for a nude shoot, even though it was 30c outside, and then I arrived and lit around 100 candles in the room making it more like 45-50c, she was naked and very warm, I was fully dressed and sweating profusely.
The only light source we used was 100 candles on the floor and my exposures were averaging 1 second, handheld. This is one of my favourate photos from that shoot, just what I was trying to capture.
A good example of what can be achieved on-location in less than ideal circumstances.
The location was the models home and the backdrop is a pair of curtains over a sunlit window, however the curtains were patterned.
The way to deal with this kind of problem is first to set your flash and aperture, turn down the flash for a wider aperture and when the exposure looks good you can start extending your exposure time so the sunlight backlighting the curtains turns the curtains pure white, overexposing a few stops.
Thats how you get this, a technique I now use a couple of times a week.
This photo has been the background wallpaper for my website MarkVarleyPhoto.co.uk since the site was first built.
I love corsets, they are just visually cool in so many way, but the thing I love the most about this photo is the arms and hands, not sure exactly why but it's a favourate of mine :o)
It was taken with the model I used for my first book 'Beautiful Bondage - the art of rope bondage', the day before we did some stuff like this.
Yoga, I'm not sure why but I love the poses and positions of yoga, only visually though, never tried them for myself.
Here I had the model running through some yoga poses and she did a cool thing with her arms, so I asked her to lay on her back and mirror it with her legs, here is that photo :o)
Pretty girls, exotic locations, beautiful beaches, it seems idealistic doesn't it?
What you don't see is that it's around 6am and we had to be up at 5am to drive to the location, you also don't see the group of drunken tourists on their way home who noticed us and tried to get closer while looking casual and 'just going for a walk'.
Still, I'd rather be doing this work than just about anything else.
This is Marie again, first shot of the day, on location at a beach in Cornwall, England, nice droplets on the skin due to a quick dash into the sea while I was mincing around doing 'photographer things' in my bag. Just a simple nude photo of a girl on a beach :o)
Something I'm very well known for is rope bondage, both in itself and in my (and others) photography. Usually you'll see exotic ropes of various colours tied in intricate ways, here is a very simple photo of a girls torso with some cord fitted thats no thicker than a shoelace, in a very simple tie known as a 'karada'.
A friend of mine once said, 'Colour photography is all about the colours, Black & White is about everything else',
I love black and whites, they just feel right 90% of the time, but here is a colour photograph, nice pose, semi-silhouette, and it's all about the colours :o)
This isn't all about the colours, this is more about a colour you don't usually see, this is infrared.
Another colour, this time of Marie sitting on a wall, saturation is pushed up and the exposure balanced between the sky and the model, and ignoring the cars on the road 20 metres away, thank nature for bushes.
The last photo of Marie, who features here alot due to the almost whole summer we worked together out on locations in Cornwall, England in 2005 creating some of her, and my, best work at the time.
Here we are in another granite quarry, which as well as having alot of granite which is a great textured rock to photograph, also had really heavy duty machinery, like this trailer made form solid lumps of iron which looks like it could carry around a small english county.
Here it's carrying a model in a classic figure pose against the sky, I love the strangely similar tones of the model and the rusty trailer mixed with the very delicate and very tough industrial shapes and lines.
This is Amber the dancer again, and another hand-tint, she was just sitting between poses when this photo presented itself.
When I was shopping for some new black velvet as a backdrop in my studio the shop had some of this red velvet, which I had to have, and this is probably my favourate photo of it.
Mostly I work with white models, because mostly they are, but there are a few models that come my way that bring me skintones like this, deep tones that I just adore. More examples of this in my more recent work, particularly 2008, but here is an earlier one with a model named Lala, who moved like a cat, beautiful to watch, she just moved around the floor and I just pushed the button feeling like a spare part, this is a favourate from many taken that day.
Another photo from that shoot with the corset, something gentle here with a connection I like it alot :o)
And for the 33rd photo here is Veronik, from my first year of shooting nudes, here the model has covered her skin with a very liberal coating of baby oil for a great shine and I just love the lightfall on this photo, which was one of a few chosen as an example of fine art nude photography in a book a couple of years ago.
Thats all for now, 33 photos from my earlier years photographing nudes, all of these photos were taken before 2006, the year that I turned 30 and moved to London, photos since then are on my deviantart page markvarleyphoto.deviantart.com and you can also see more on my photoblog markvarley.shutterchance.com and my website MarkVarleyPhoto.co.uk