photo shoot trip: that’s a wrap

The shoot wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I guess that’s to be expected. I’ve been feeling ambivalent about it, even though I’ve been home for a while and have written up the events. It took a few conversations with other people before I really understood how I felt and why.

It was… OK.

There were good things. We shared ideas. I wore some nice outfits. I liked the bit of shibari that we tried. I enjoyed the way I got wet just from having the cuffs locked together. I had an adventure and pushed a limit.

There were things that were less than good. Nothing bad exactly.

I had a mild blood sugar crash on day 2 when we went out shopping, and then again in the evening of day 3 after we finished shooting for the day. I rarely feel hungry when I need to eat so I’m prone to blood sugar crashes, yet I rarely have them when I’m at home because my regular routine keeps me running well. I’m more likely to have a crash when I’m travelling because I’m off my routine. My sleep schedule was all over the place and there wasn’t much for food in the house.

There was also a technical glitch, discovered (or at least reported) after I’d already returned home. Lucas likes a certain amount of grain in his photos but had forgotten that his camera was very grainy all on its own, so all of the photos from the first day of shooting were really grainy. He adjusted the settings on the second day and we had better light, so those images are crisper.

My ambivalence about the trip came from my mood. My mood was a response to the theme of the weekend, which in retrospect was mild discomfort.

There was the physical. Lucas’s condo has heating problems so it’s always on the cool side. If you’re sitting around watching TV it’s no big deal — just put on a sweater or cuddle under a blanket. But if you’re, at best, scantily clad for a few hours, you’ve got a problem. He had a space heater going at all times but I wasn’t warm enough unless it was blowing straight at me and mostly it wasn’t.

There was the aesthetic. The condo has good bones but isn’t especially inviting. The living room, where we did most of the photos, was lined with Ikea shelves of paperbacks, movies, games and figurines, and at the center of it all was the home-theater-sized TV. He had been planning to clean the place before I arrived but had been putting it off, and then he was unexpectedly busy for the two weeks prior to my arrival. None of this mattered to me as a houseguest visiting a friend, but they did make it difficult for me as a model to actively enjoy being in the space.

There was the emotional. We’re both introverts; I need a certain amount of alone time and I’m sure he does too. I figured that he’d feel like his space was being invaded, so I was my usual quiet self and tried to keep my presence small while permitting myself to help a bit with dishes. I think he still found me “too much” for him to be comfortable though.

On top of it all was my biggest concern: how would I react emotionally to stepping out of my comfort zone and doing nude photos with a photographer? Many years ago I tried doing a shoot with a photographer, including some semi-nude shots. The experience was excruciatingly uncomfortable and I hated all the resultant photos. But now I feel more comfortable with my body than ever before, and I’ve taken and posted lots of photos myself. I was concerned that this shoot could trigger an old shame response, though fortunately that wasn’t the case. I was fine. But I could have been better.

Lucas was my second boyfriend, and I wondered what it would be like to be naked in front of him again after so long. I’m in good shape and my weight has always been stable. Would he notice that my breasts are almost as perky as they were when I was 17? Would he observe that my muscle tone is as good as it was then, or perhaps even better? If he noted anything of the sort, he certainly didn’t share it with me. In fact, with one exception he gave no indication during the shoot that he found my body even to be attractive, and we never actually spoke about that relationship. He was absolutely businesslike at all times.

But this wasn’t exactly business, and he didn’t hire me to model for him. We’re friends but it didn’t feel very friendly. I felt no warmth or emotional connection during the shoot. In fact, I perceived what I would now describe as emotional distance.

In an email before the shoot I shared that I would need praise, and he said he would provide it. But he gave me positive feedback only once or twice during the shoot, which went for hours over two days. It felt lonely. I was left seriously wondering whether he thought things had gone well or poorly, and after we wrapped up I asked him point-blank. He told me he thought it had gone well, but I thought I sensed a lack of conviction.

I’d consider doing another shoot with him but if I do, I want to enjoy it, so some things would have to be done differently. Having figured out what was bothering me, at least I’m now in a position to express specific needs and wants. But it may be that we’re not sufficiently compatible for this sort of partnership to work all that well.

photo shoot trip, day 4: more actual photos

I told Lucas I could handle more bondage, but he didn’t immediately take me up on it. The white summer dress I’d been wearing had inspired him to do something with his sunny yellow rope, but after that we just kept working, slowly, through the clothing options.

The next day was my last in town. Counting backwards from the flight time, we’d have to wrap up shooting by about 4:00 to allow me plenty of time to pack up my voluminous wardrobe, so it was going to be a short day.

He requested my quasi school uniform — blazer, little pleated skirt, white shirt, knee socks (and fishnets), and tie. I put on the shirt and skirt (with push-up bra and white cotton panties). But I’d forgotten my tie at home. Dammit! He rummaged around in his closet and then produced a dark grey silk tie he’d bought to wear to a recent funeral. I draped the tie around my neck, with the wide part hanging much lower than the narrow, started wrapping and twisting the silk, decided I didn’t have enough length, undid my work a little self-consciously, and tugged the wide end down a smidge more. Lucas was still in the room but not obviously paying attention. Around, over and through to the back; around, over and through to the front. Straighten the knot. Slide the smooth silk up snug to my neck. Done! He looked up; I’d gotten it just the right length, he said, sounding impressed.

Once he left the room, I gingerly pulled on the large gauge fishnets; the tights are effectively just a bundle of elastic string, and the holes are so big that it’s hard not to stick toes right through, at every stage. I always worry that I’m about to rip them to shreds.

We did a few shots with the outfit, and then he did a similar tie to the one from the day before, with my arms behind my back. This time he tied me a bit more snugly, and my response was more pronounced. Again, he wrapped the rope across my front, but this time the gesture was accompanied by a mild but sudden and otherwise inexplicable appreciation for the shape of his forearm as he went about the rigging. I’m not very visually oriented, and I don’t consider forearms (or any body parts, really) a turn-on. Since much of what was happening with the rope was behind my back, there wasn’t much for me to see. I think I was responding to the feeling of the rope and my brain simply latched onto the one image that was available.

Once he had me secure, I felt content being held in the rope and found it pleasant. I was a bit surprised to find it faintly comforting. This wasn’t a “scene”, and Lucas wasn’t domming me; there was no deliberate emotional content, nor was there an emotional connection beyond our friendship and the fact that I trusted him enough to do this. But I was having some kind of mild emotional reaction just to the sensation of the rope. I wondered if it was connecting generally with the human need for touch or specifically with my own significant touch hunger. Perhaps both.

We did some shots of my knit sheath dress, which has the silhouette of a cheongsam. Push-up bra again, no knickers. Stilettos. We did some poses with a faintly submissive tone, and then I put on the wrist cuffs. How odd it felt to be doing this for myself, but how much odder it would have felt to allow Lucas to do it. Having cuffs put on me does make me feel a little submissive. It’s a kind of adornment, and thus a temporary marking. It also represents permission to control me. It has significance.

I sat on the black leather couch with my knees together, hands resting on my knees demurely. The combination of being a bit dressed up and sitting carefully, almost studiously, was reminiscent of waiting for a job interview.

He put a golden lock, open, on one cuff, carefully concealing the word “Samsonite”. After taking a few shots, he locked the cuffs together. That instantly kindled heat. But I’m good at hiding my reactions and I’m sure he didn’t notice. “I just have to pop out for a minute,” he joked while I was bound. Har har. We also tried some shots with my wrists cuffed behind my back. When I retired to the bedroom to get changed, I saw that I was glistening and sticky, as I’d sensed.

More rope, less clothing. He’d had the idea of tying the torso without restricting movement and putting a blazer on top. This idea required knickers. It was a karada tie: a loop (the bight) around the back of my neck, straight down the front with a knot placed against my mound, both strands between the legs and up the back, then zigzagging front to back, and framing the breasts. Most of the work was done from behind. I felt a bit shy, but not uncomfortably so. The bondage didn’t challenge me because it didn’t restrict me at all. If there was a challenge, it was the nudity.

More rope, no clothing. Wolf’s cuffs on my wrists and ankles. Lucas had me sprawl on the couch, tied the wrist cuffs together using the attachment points, then tied off to the couch leg. Same with my ankles. “I hope you’re comfortable there,” he said as he turned away. Har har. Again. But it wasn’t actually a joke this time. The batteries in his camera had just died and he couldn’t remember where he kept the new ones.

I was naked, stretched out in the dimness under a spotlight, bound hand and foot, not especially comfortable, and somewhat chilled in his inherently chilly condo.

He could have said, “Now I’ve got you where I want you. You’re at my mercy, girl. I’m going to warm you up ­— well, your ass.”

He could have brandished a flogger, or a cane, or a paddle.

He could have purred in my ear, telling me all the dreadful things he intended to do to me.

But that’s not a game that I wanted to play with him. He rifled through dusty cupboards and drawers for his batteries. Fortunately he found them before I got seriously vexed.

photo shoot trip, day 3: actual photos

Lucas and I had been up late the night before. It had taken me some time to get bored with the fetish night, but I got there eventually. That wasn’t a terrible thing: we were able to join the queue at the coat check at a low ebb. After prancing around in minimal clothing for hours, I preferred to cover up again in incongruous luxe cardigan and well-worn yoga pants at the table beside the coat-check girl’s podium, rather than squeeze through the throngs to one of the restrooms in a more literal reversing of my original kitting-down. Such modesty seemed superfluous at this point, almost feigned. Lucas returned his floggers to his bag of tricks, unused.

The drive home was lengthy, and worrisome. The engine light of his scrupulously maintained car had lit up the day before. As a precaution he topped up the oil, and then concluded that it was a relic of a known glitch relating to the gas cap, which would have no effect whatsoever. But during the return — on a quiet freeway under a black sky — the car began to lose power, pulsing regularly and quickly. It wasn’t oil, or the gas cap glitch, or exhaust, or loss of a cylinder. He changed into the rightmost lane and, contrary to all factors — the city’s driving culture, the car’s design, the time of night and lack of traffic, and Lucas’s own preferences — drove somewhere below the speed limit, with the hazard lights on. But the car soldiered on all the way home and got tucked into its heated underground parking spot.

Time to decompress, get changed, remove makeup (just me), and have a snack and a chat. We were going to bed not too long before Wolf would be getting up in his time zone.

Despite it all, I had a decent sleep and was up at an hour I considered respectable, though many wouldn’t. I made myself breakfast, and Lucas eventually joined me. We chatted. We hung out, vaguely wasting time. All the while I was lounging in my nightshirt and nothing else.

Eventually, I asked whether we’d be starting soon. He said something vague.

“Basically, I just want to know if I can put a bra on.” It was mid-afternoon.

“Well, you could put it on and take it off again later.”

“Ah, but I don’t want to leave marks.”

That was enough to spur action, not that the action had anything to do with my breasts. He got himself set up with camera, tripod, and some lights, moved the coffee table out of the way, took a painting off the wall behind the couch. I was vaguely concerned about latent clutter.

We had discussed the shoot ahead of time, though not in minute detail. I find it frustrating to take photos of myself without being able to see what the camera sees, so I wanted simply to be in front of the camera and rely on his skills to frame the shots and direct some poses. I had also mentioned a few specific poses I wanted to try, but mostly I expected him to guide me. He was the one who could see what the camera saw, and this was once his job, while I’ve never posed for anyone but myself before. He had plenty of ideas, he said, though we didn’t discuss much more than some rope bondage, which is a fetish of his.

Finally, we were starting. He asked me to stand in front of the (closed) vertical blinds, mostly facing away from him, and to lift my nightshirt to show my bottom. He talked me part way into the pose, then smirked. He explained that he’d been about to give another direction that, in his experience, would create a nice roundness in my bottom but was pleased to find it unnecessary.

I had, as it turned out, brought much more clothing than we could ever hope to get through. Jackets, dresses, jewelry, shoes, knickers, bras, stockings, and more besides. I’d felt ridiculous approaching the weight limit on my luggage for a trip lasting all of four days, and I’d been tempted to embrace the stereotype fully and wear my gladiators while travelling.

Despite my concern about lines, we decided to start with the white dress that Gawan bought me, a push-up bra, and those gladiators. I didn’t bother with knickers, which meant I didn’t have to wonder whether the color was visible through the dress.

We did some shots this way and eventually graduated to some relatively simple bondage — my arms behind my back, hand to elbow. As he strung the rope across my front, above and then below my bust, I paid close attention, looking within myself for any subtle response. There might have been a tiny glimmer.

He was concerned about my balance and ability to walk in 4-inch heels, up a few stairs, while tied. Piece of cake! I felt a little smug about being so footsure. I found that having my arms bound had very little effect on my movement, and was even able to do a torso bending and twisting dance move, which I ended up doing repeatedly while he snapped away, and I hoped it was somewhat aesthetic.

This, he announced, was all the bondage he would do on me unless I asked for more.

“I could do more,” I replied.

photo shoot trip, day 2: fetish night

Because Lucas and I had been up so late on day 1, we were very late getting up on day 2. I woke mid-morning and lazed about in bed for a good while before getting up, while he made his first appearance at 1:00.

I was thinking we’d start on the photos today, but we didn’t have time for it with the late start and mandatory shopping, which was complicated by poor weather and, once we got going, car problems. This was the day of the fetish night, and Lucas had been almost turned away a few times running because his pants were barely passing muster under the fetish dress code, so he was on a mission to buy some new and sufficiently fetish-y pants.

I, on the other hand, was shopping recreationally. We had gone to a store at which the main styles were goth and steampunk with a few overtly BDSM-y pieces, and there was a mix of labels and house brand (the woman who owns the shop is a seamstress). During Project Pants, I explored and examined some of the simpler pieces, mostly looking for inspiration for things I could make myself.

I found a cool jacket in a military style – it was reminiscent of a mid-19th-century dress uniform, black with lots of black braid and lots of metal buttons. There was only one on the rack but according to the tag it was too big, so I asked if they had any smaller ones in stock. The clerk went through all the stock but didn’t find any that were smaller, so I gave up. But a while later out of curiosity I decided to try the jacket on anyway, just to see how it looked. What do you know, it fit! And pretty well, too, so I bought it. (The size on the tag had been thoroughly misleading.) In the meantime Lucas found some highly satisfactory pants (black, leather-look), so we returned to his place, successful hunters and gatherers.

After supper, we got done up and covered up, then left for the fetish night. The outside door led to a small foyer; the doors to left and right were for rooms that were both occupied by a private function. The door in the middle led downstairs to our event. The bouncer, a stylish older black man with an angular jaw, wore a long black coat and could have been an extra in The Matrix.

A woman and man stood at a podium by the middle door to check tickets and outfits while keeping tourists out. Lucas and I were dressed discreetly for the trip: he was wearing his new shiny black pants but his net top was hidden under a sweater. My black catsuit was concealed under comfy red yoga pants and a cardigan. There was no place near the door to change or strip down, so when the man asked if we had suitable attire I simply said “Yes” with great conviction, and on that assurance he let us through to the curving staircase. I thought it was quite funny.

In the meantime, the woman at the podium was dealing with another patron whose costume, unlike mine, was entirely visible; she said jeans weren’t acceptable and he argued, in a Russian accent, that his denim cut-offs were in fact Daisy Dukes and thus costume. They ended up letting him in, though I don’t know whether he got scolded or warned.

We arrived an hour after the start time but things were still quiet so we took a little tour. On one side of the entrance was a fair sized dance floor with a high ceiling, small restrooms at one end and a stage at the other; on the stage was a spanking bench. On the other side of the entrance, a short and narrow hall led to a bar area, which became a bottleneck later on since people were lining up for drinks while others were passing through. Then there was the coat check, which had a line up almost all night. Beyond that was the other dance floor; this one had a low ceiling, comfortable chairs and couches along the two long sides, an open area at the near end, and restrooms at the far end. There was a spanking bench on each side near the restrooms, but not a lot of clearance around them so they were fine for actual spanking but not appropriate for flogging, say. A suspension frame for rope was set up at the near end of this room; the basic structure was much like a child’s swing set, with room for two people to be tied at once, perhaps more if they were part of the same scene.

We danced on and off throughout the night, but the music mostly didn’t grab me: electronica, or 80s and Christmas music. The genres could have worked but I didn’t seem to share the DJs’ tastes.

The clothing/costumes turned out to be not all that interesting. Part of the issue was that they had three separate themes going (Christmas, fetish, and island) so it was a little incoherent. Some girls thus wore red underwear sets, and a few guys wore Christmas-themed boxers. One man wore two Santa hats, one on the big head and one on the little head, and that was the full extent of his costume. One woman was dressed as a hula dancer car dash ornament with short grass skirt, pasties, and flower in her shoulder-length hair; she danced what looked reasonably like hula, and the whole thing was nicely evocative. The guy dressed as Krampus got my attention for his cool eye makeup and horns. Otherwise it was mostly fairly ordinary lingerie.

There wasn’t much play going on since the set-up wasn’t entirely conducive. We did see a woman doing flogging and singletail at the stage station (the only one with room for such things), but that spanking bench was later claimed by a scantily clad guy in red briefs who gyrated to the music and checked his phone. Later we saw the same woman doing rope and suspending her partner. Lucas was impressed and intrigued. The spanking benches seemed to feature spanking only (including some paddling), and no surprise because there wasn’t room for anything else. Neither Lucas nor I did any play with each other or anyone else. It was, more than other occasions I’m told, primarily a dance party.

At one point, a topless woman walked past us and through the crowded dance floor. I was impressed by the way this was treated as entirely unremarkable. Nobody even blinked let alone leered.

On the basis of what I’d been told about this event, it was a bit underwhelming, and the poor weather likely didn’t help anything. But it was still fun and I’m glad I went.

photo shoot trip, day 1

I’m back from my photo shoot trip. I was going to have almost four full days in town (not including the day of arrival since I got there in the evening). The original plan was: day 1 – shopping with Lucas, supper with Mr. PS; day 2 – photo shoot and fetish night; day 3 – photo shoot continued; day 4 – nothing in particular until my evening flight. We had to adjust the plans, however, because not long before the trip Lucas was called in to work during a few days that he had expected to have free. He would now be busy for all of day 1. They had wanted him to work on day 2 as well but he told them he wasn’t available.

I had been thinking about doing some solo shopping on day 1 but the weather wasn’t cooperative, so I spent much of the day alone at Lucas’s and headed out in the later afternoon to meet up with PS. I had to take public transit to get out there: about 90 minutes door to door (instead of a 30-minute drive in good conditions). Since Lucas works relatively close to PS’s place, the fact that he was stuck at work meant that it was convenient for him to give me a ride back when he was done, around 9:30.

PS and I started at a sushi restaurant and when that started to feel tired, we went back to his place where we talked and listened to music. I had imagined that we’d spend some time cuddling on his couch like last time, but he didn’t initiate and I couldn’t think of a way to do so either, so we just sat companionably.

After a couple of hours of hanging out he couldn’t face staying within his four walls anymore, so we went to his local, where there was a band of guys who looked to be in their 30s, competently (though not brilliantly) playing classic rock tunes.

I had been expecting Lucas to get in touch and hadn’t heard anything yet so I pinged him at about 11:00 and asked how things were going. “Poorly” was the response. The boss had forgotten that he was supposed to have day 2 off, so Lucas was now doing tomorrow’s work. Eventually he pulled the plug at 12:30. He had been at work since 9:00 am.

When Lucas arrived, PS and I said our goodbyes. In some ways, PS is very reserved. He has told me intensely personal things, which marks me as part of an inner circle of two or three people. On the other hand, he isn’t shy about showing affection – his male friends get hugs and the female ones get hugs and kisses. So when I was leaving, he gave me warm and lingering hugs and kisses on my cheeks. The very small bar was full, he seemed to know half of the people there, and he is rarely seen with female company, so I expect that we were noticed. I didn’t give a damn, and I don’t think he did either.