Quick Note: Fetish Photography
Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it..
That’s not true, is it? Getting a good photograph of yourself in a fetishy context, whether it’s cosplay, drag, fetish or just outfit of the day is actually not that easy. There’s a vast ocean of cringey images online, often ones we thought were pretty cool at the time but now look painfully bad. There are just as many very, very average photos that aren’t going to get you noticed. Let’s be honest, you didn’t share that picture of you wearing that outfit for people to just scroll on by, did you? This is a quick note on the two things that will take your photos to the next level.
The first change you can make that will genuinely elevate your pictures is technical — something you have to learn and think about and do before you press that button. There are a bazillion tutorials online about photography, which might excite you to learn about, or might be the most boring thing you could ever imagine. However, there’s one key technical understanding that makes a vast difference. Whatever you might feel about learning photography, if you’re not willing to take that first step your photos are going to remain distinctly second rate. It’s an easy concept to explain, so I’ll cover that in a moment to get it out of the way.
The second change is about your approach to creating an image. This is more subtle and hard to get your head around, and really the subject of this quick note, so hang around and we’ll get to it shortly.
So what’s the key technical change? What can you do now, for free, to make a difference? What is it that allows professional photographers to pick up a cheap camera phone and still produce a jaw dropping image? Light. Light yourself well.
There’s two parts to this. The first is simply that cameras are just not as good as the human eye. They really don’t like the dark. They struggle to capture range. Filling your image with light will help that poor camera to capture what you see so easily. The second part is that light helps give us shape, texture and interest to a picture. That’s the difference between rabbit in the headlights flatness and the sculptural softness of a model sitting by an open window. You wanna be sculptural, right?
If you want to improve the technical quality of your photos, filling them with light and lighting them from the right directions is key. There are lots of ways to do this, from open windows to expensive lighting rigs. However, a lot of options don’t involve buying a truck load of gizmos, but just spending time using the light sources you have around you for maximum effect. This isn’t going to be a tutorial on lighting though. Head onto YouTube and search for “simple lighting techniques” and you’ll find a bunch of videos showing quick and easy ideas that will pay dividends.
So what about that second change, that other thing you can do to make your photos less cringe and more creative? This is about avoiding a common pitfall in many fetish, erotic and cosplay photos — being overwhelmed by the theme.
Let’s be honest, the majority of photos in this area are about the situation you’re in. Hey look, I’m dressed like a sexy nurse. Here’s me and my hot partner doing that thing. I’m at the mall and I’m wearing latex. We’re taking the photo because that situation is powerful for us. This is the theme of the photo, and a lot of even experienced photographers on the scene can fall into the trap of loosing themselves to the theme.
The result is a photograph that is only focussed on one thing. It’s unbalanced, probably has some really distracting oddities, and unless the audience is into exactly that specific theme… it’s boring. Once you step back from what has been captured, this combination is a wrecking ball. If you want to make people cringe, there is nothing worse than putting all that effort into “being sexy” and missing the mark.
Common symptoms are “clothing catalogue” shots, where every part of an outfit has to be on display (I broke my credit card for those shoes!); distracting backgrounds (everything from messy rooms to posing in odd locations); unnecessary gentalia (honestly, you don’t have to actually point at your bits for an image to be sexy as hell); nothing happening (you’re a maid, why are you just standing there?) and silly mistakes (didn’t you notice your stockings aren’t even?).
I’ve made every one of these errors over the years. Dressed for the bedroom but photographed in the hallway (the only space uncluttered enough for a photo). A whole photoshoot with an experienced photographer where my wonky wig showed an ugly stripe of natural hair down the side of my face. Posing like a sumo wrestler just to get the whole outfit in view. Photos that could have been great, but were unusuable because we were concentrating too hard on the cool situation we’d set up and not the whole image.
This is where your approach to fetish photos makes the difference. Stepping back from the hot thing and considering what you’re trying to capture can prevent the theme from distracting you. Most professional models will tell you that a modelling session is extremely boring and hard work. The reason is simple — a good image comes from working through all the little details, from location, to props, to lighting and pose. Loosing yourself to sexy times and then pressing the shutter button sounds a lot more fun, but just ends up capturing forever all the stuff you missed and your weird sex face. When other people see your picture, the human skill for spotting things that are out of kilter will overwhelm the image.
There is of course nothing wrong with taking a straight up portrait. Clear the room, get a neutral background, light from the side and pose for the camera. There are more tutorials on YouTube about posing. Remember though that unless you are a supermodel, you’re not offering the audience much to chew on.
If you really want to make people sit up and notice your photos, working with the theme and taking time to consider what the overall image should contain will reap rewards. Save the sexy times for after the photoshoot. Before the photoshoot though, think about the environment you’re in and how it fits in with your theme. Elegant lingerie is complemented by an elegant boudoir (even if it’s just some cheap net hung from the lampshade to hide the ugly wardrobe). If you can get access to a cool kitchen, would this be the place for your maid character to prepare dinner? How can you set up the room to be just about the scenario that best fits your look? Using Google Image Search can help give you ideas and inspiration for the overall scene you might create.
Then think about props and what you’ll be doing. Those pose tutorials work if you can fit a pose into your role. If you look at really good pictures of people “in character” they’re often in very odd positions given what they’re meant to be doing, but those positions are all about getting the pose and shape right for the camera. No-one behaves like that in real life, but because the pose looks good and the environment looks right, we happily accept that this is “natural” for the situation.
Finally, spend some time fussing over the details. Is your lipstick smudged? Are your stocking seams perfectly straight? Is there something distracting in the background? Take as many photos as you can, checking regularly to see if you’re missing something obvious. Don’t get distracted by the situation, but look at the overall image, the space round you, the lighting and how your outfit and props are arranged. Remember that the camera is taking the place of your audience, so if you want to show off your legs it needs to be shot from about knee height. If you want to look weak and submissive, shoot from about 2 feet above.
Think about what you’re trying to say in your photo. If you like to spank people, you want a photo to say “being spanked by me would be a wonderful experience”. If you’re overwhelmed by the theme, there’s a danger you end up sending out the message, “look I’ve got a paddle! have you seen my paddle!?”. That’s great for paddle fetishists, but probably won’t get you the attention you want.
Photos are about telling a story. If you get it right, then your audience will be engaged, excited and want more. Get it wrong and the story will be stuck in your head, untold.
Don’t get overwhelmed by what you’re doing or wearing, and think about the story your image is telling. Spend a little time to fix the technical problems common with “quick snaps”. Getting these two key things right will prevent your audience from scrolling on by.