Shibari, leather, petplay or latex. Whatever the subject is, fetish and kink photography can be wonderful. It’s understandable why so many of you want to explore their fantasies in front of a camera. But how do you know who to work with? Not all photographers are the right, or safe choice.
I’m going to share some of my tips for clients and models on how to stay safe. Of course, even if you listen to my advice there’s still something that can go wrong, so please always listen to your intuition, and use common sense.
Negotiate what you will and will NOT do beforehand.
You can treat a photoshoot almost like a playsession with a new partner, Make sure you and the photographer are on the same page about what you want to achieve from the shoot, and where your boundaries lie. Your boundaries as a client, but also for the photographer, who might not be interested or comfortable witnessing (and capturing!) a certain kind of play.
Don’t be afraid to say no, when the photographer offers an idea you’re not comfortable with. It’s your shoot, and your body.
Personally I always try to let the clients lead the way. I may sometimes offer suggestions, but only based on what they’ve told me they’re into before,
Models: Dragica Janeka & Dutch Fantasy
Vet the photographer.
You might think “oh but they’ve worked with so many well-known models and people in the scene, it must be fine”. But that doesn’t guarantee the photographer has honest intentions. Check if their portfolio and social media have model credits. If not, ask yourself why. Maybe they didn’t have consent to share the photos, or the photo’s aren’t even taken by them! If they do credit or tag the models, feel free to reach out to them! You can politely ask them for a reference on the photographer. Of course, anyone can have one or two negative reviews, but if the reputation is quite negative as a whole, it might be smart to reconsider your choice.
Agree to credit and use before or during the shoot.
Are you okay with the photographer using and publishing the photos? If you’re paying the photographer, it’s usually up to you, as the client to make that decision. And if you are okay with the photos being used, do you want to be credited? Under which name, your real name or a more anonymous, made up name like your fetlife username?
All of this you have to think about and tell the photographer, so there will be no misunderstandings. Know that you’re always taking a risk, the photo’s can find their way on sites and in front of your coworkers etc. So if you don’t want this, make it very clear to your photographer that it’s something you worry about and they should do their very best to keep you and the photos safe from that happening.
Models: Jenny & Marouschka
Ask whether you can bring a chaperone.
This doesn’t mean you should actually bring one, but just ask. The response from the photographer can tell you a lot, If the response is an immediate, harsh no, view this as a red flag and question why.
I for example respond with “I’m sorry but I prefer to work one-on-one with my clients. This way neither of us get distracted, and we both can focus better. An onlooker can make some people a bit insecure, and also I have a rather small space to work in so they might be in our way a bit. Though, if you feel like it would truly make you feel more comfortable, of course you can bring someone. Please ask them to bring something to entertain themselves like a book, and to not be too distracting.”
Be vocal about your consent.
An honest photographer wants you to be happy about what you produce. They want you to be comfortable during the shoot, and when you look back on the images. If they push you too much, don’t be afraid to end the shoot. You’re not just a prop for them to position, and they should ALWAYS respect you and treat you accordingly. Speak up if they ask you to do something you’re not okay with.
Consent violations may include unwanted touching, flirting, sexually explicit comments or taking anything further than you’re willing to do. It’s always the responsibility of the photographer to check in with you to make sure you’re doing alright, but when this doesn’t happen, try to remove yourself from the situation if need be.
Model: Eve Fatale | Rigger: Jenny
safeguard your online presence.
If the photographer has violated your consent in a different way, by publishing the photos even though you agreed not to, ask them to remove the photos immediately. If they don’t, or someone else has gotten ahold of the photos and published them, you should report it.
Work with experienced people, especially if your kink can be dangerous.
There’s always a risk when partaking in certain activities like shibari, breathplay, fireplay, or even just taking photos outside in latex. When doing something dangerous, take all the precausions you can, and work with experienced people who know what they’re doing. It’s best that you have played with this person before so you know you will feel comfortable and safe with them. Don’t try needle play for the first time during the photoshoot with a new dom. It’s best if you both already know what you’re doing and what’s going on.
When in public, I will help find a place where not many people will pass by, but this is never a guarantee. So sometimes it’s nice to bring a chaperone who can be on the lookout or even interfere when there’s harassment or catcalling going on.
I’m sorry if I scared you from taking that step to book a shoot. I just want you to be informed, and safe. If you have any questions on how I personally take precautions for your safety, you can contact me.
Fetish and kinky photography are an amazing outlet for me as a photographer, and it should also be just that for you as the client. You deserve amazing photos that you can look back on with pride and naughty giggles, and not a knot in your stomach and sadness. So do what you can, and then when you’ve found the right photographer for you, just relax.