There’s a strong and justified movement to encourage more diversity in our society. The perception of a white dominated mainstream media is giving way to one that’s more equitable to those of different backgrounds. The fetish scene is not exempt from this movement, and it’s pleasing to see a wider range of people being represented.
However . . .
Some months ago, I was challenged about the “lack of diversity” in my fetish work. There are no males (other than a few selfies) and my female models are of “a certain type”. This, my challenger decided, was a shame and they would no longer enjoy my photography because of it. What the “certain type” was, or why I should care, was not explained.
It raised an interesting question in my mind. As a fetishist who has a small amount of influence, should I be concerned about diversity in my work?
The practicalities of being a fetish photographer
The budget for my hobby is rather meagre, and you may be aware I haven’t shot for over a year (another year may pass before I shoot again). Should I have some money set aside specifically to do more diverse shoots, even if that would involve subjects I’ve no interest in? Is it reasonable to expect the legions of other amateurs and hobbyists out there to do the same? We have little time enough to indulge what we enjoy, let alone participate in a social quest. From a financial perspective it doesn’t seem reasonable.
Yet there is some merit to the argument. A “fan” (if I have any left) may see one of my “diverse” images and be inspired to pursue a new fetish. Someone who sees a wide range of models and themes in my work may see that as the norm and seek to emulate the same. It feeds into the perception that kink is as welcoming and diverse as any other part of society. Arguably more so.
Should amateurs be held to the same standards as professional photographers?
Many photographers in the scene aren’t professionals. We shoot because we enjoy a few hours behind the camera with a person of our choosing creating images we appreciate. These images are shared and either vanish into the ether or become viral hits destined to forever appear in timelines and searches. We shoot what we like because this is our corner of the Internet and we’ll shape it to our liking. Some of us are lucky enough to find cohorts of people who share our kinks and elevate our standing a little.
In many respects the fact we have fetishes may restrict our ability to be “diverse” because that is the nature of a fetish. It’s a sexual fixation on an object – be it a body type, clothing or positions. We’ll tend towards its inherent elements to satisfy our kinks as we shape the scene in front of us. Try and step outside of these boundaries and the thrill of the shoot fades and our commitment with it. Instead of creating an image that’s charged with sexuality and excitement we take a photo. Someone else could do that.
Should I be concerned about diversity in my fetish?
To return to the original question, I think “no” is the simple answer. My work is mine and is made to please me. If others enjoy it that’s great and thank you for that.
Should I be concerned about the wider question of diversity in the fetish scene is perhaps the question we should focus on. My answer is absolutely, and as photographers we may have a duty to find those whose work shows the underrepresented and amplify it. But let them create the art rather than steal their precious moments for the sake of being “more diverse”.
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