The Art of Using Chains to Create Erotic BDSM Photography
by Belladonna Del Rio
Chains in the realm of sexuality have now become synonymous with the entire BDSM Fetish world. Chains are considered to be a basic tool within the Bondage and Discipline Dominant and Submissive sub-culture of sexuality. The uses of chains during the theater of sexual congress are only limited to the imaginations of either the Dominant or Submissive role players.
I love being chained up. I love the erotic sensation of being hopelessly submissive to either my husband or my wife. Let’s be honest, the underlying thrill of this sex act is the “dirtiness” of it all. It’s all very psychological, which is why adding some chains to your erotic photography sets, is a splendid idea. I guarantee you, no matter how dry and boring a model or client is? Throw in some chains and have the model or client close their eyes a lot, and you have instantaneous BDSM fetish erotica with real emotive connections between the subject and viewer.
Unless you plan on shooting porn, you have to be VERY careful about your lighting. Too harsh or bright and erotic photography with chains typically looks very cold and glamorous. Almost as if the model is (gasp) faking it just to collect a check. On the other hand, if the lighting is too dark, it could come out a little too visceral and most women do NOT enjoy visceral photography. The right amount of lighting should be something with a lot of dramatic lighting and shadows. By shooting it this way you can create a “Fine Art” aesthetic to your images that will create strong boundaries between your erotic expressions and Fetish Porn.
I feel compelled to advise one other aspect of Chain erotic photography and that is this fine line between porn and deliberate raw and visceral BDSM photography. A lot of fetish enthusiast in this era of “reality” art, prefer the visceral rawness in their BDSM photographic arts. Once again, the catch between this type of photography and porn would be in the amount of lighting and editing. To obtain the raw and visceral “reality” BDSM photography, the photographer has to present the image with an almost SOOC (Straight out of Camera) aesthetic. Meaning, if you do edit the image? You would have to edit the image to look as if you never edited the image.
On the polar opposite of this theory of using chains to create Erotic BDSM photography, is over editing the image or using HDR photography. This creates an aesthetic so “un-real” that it once again, falls under the composition styling of “Fine Art”. One of the best examples I can show you is directly to the left by Soft Screams Alumni Photographer Kerry Tracy and his muse the sexxxalishus Summer May. Take note on all of the details that HDR provides and yet it almost looks so much like a painting, that you could hang it up on your bedroom wall.
Please take a look at the image below by photographer Metalbondage. The sexxxalishus model is wearing a huge chain in the form of a “Chastity Belt”. This is a VERY sexy picture but I would not classify this as “Erotic Photography”. In my opinion, this image looks more “pornographic” but it is still a fantastic shot. Although the lighting is not very flat, the editing is slightly too much. Specifically, the softening of the model’s skin. Posing the model with her legs wide open didn’t support the composition if the photographer wasn’t going for a more soft-core pornographic image. The most fascinating aspect about this shot is with the chains. If this was shot without the chastity belt/Chains? The image would have been almost like a “Playboy Magazine” shot. However, the Chastity Belt/Chain makes this image fall under the “Fetish” category thus, it has a slightly more “pornographic” composition.
This image below by photographer Sweetest Consumption is an excellent example on what I meant by a raw and visceral image to create BDSM Erotic Photography. Please note how this image almost appears to be SOOC, yet trained eyes such as ours can tell it was edited a little. This image is raw and very graphic. Yet, unlike the image above, it is so raw and “imperfect” that it is almost perfect for Erotic BDSM fetish photography. The chains and nipple clamps give this image a hard “Edge” to it and the model’s eyes are so wide and full of depth and humanity that it draws you into the pain she is experiencing.
Once again, this sexxxalishus image below by photographer Alan Pederoso of Porn Star Kendra James appears more like a porn image than Erotic Photography, even though I found this image on a website for Erotic Photography. Please note that this image is not pornographic looking because the model is internationally recognized porn star Kendra James. This image looks pornographic primarily because it is heavily edited with chains. The chains makes this image a Fetish image thus it requires either more dramatic lighting, monochromatic editing, or a lot less processing.
The image below by the same photographer Alan Pedroso is a gorgeous Erotic BDSM composition. Note how the photographer made it darker with much more dramatic highlights and harsher shadows. The chains effortlessly transform this image into an instant BDSM photograph. The sexxxalishus model Mia Alania is closing her eyes giving the impression of strong emotional connection with the fetish act. This shows the dynamic range of the photographer’s mastery of lighting, shadows, and composition.
This image by photographer “Bikeboypunk” shows the issue with using flat lighting and a white background. The model is lushes and the lighting is excellent. However, this image does not look like an Erotic BDSM photograph, it looks more glamour. Even though this image has a chain in it, the model is posed flatly, her facial expression is flat and her face is heavily edited to make it ultra smooth. This is what typically happens when you shoot Erotic Photography on a white background because the lighting is usually flat to reduce the glare.
This image below uses a white background and chains. However, unlike the image above, the photographer, X-Muse, used very good dramatic lighting. The lighting is so dramatic that it gives the image an instantaneous “Fine Art” aesthetic. This lighting coupled with the chains transforms this image into a mesmerizing example of Erotic BDSM Photography.
Here are some more examples of what I consider to be excellent Fine Art Erotic BDSM photography.
Photographer Simon Ovikis
Photographer: Brian M Photography
Photographer: John Tisbury