Interview with the photographer – Captured By Dionysos 

How did you first get inspired to start photography?

My biggest inspiration was my dad. He took pictures since I was born. Those days it was all analogue roll films. He was a painter and used the pictures to help him paint beautiful scenes we visited during our holidays. It inspired me to take pictures too.  At a very young age, he gave me a compact camera. I got a roll of film every month. 36 exposures, so every day, I could take 1 picture.

At the age of 16, about 40 years ago, I signed up with a photography group in my home town. I was the youngest member ever. As a Benjamin, I got lots of support from the other photographers, and I also posed for other photographers. My interest started there, but I had little to spend as a student. My first SLR was a Practica MTL3, but a year later, I bought a second-hand Rolleicord and started to take portraits to earn a little money. So 6 months after, I could buy a nice set Mamiya 645. I still have this one and the Practica, but I have not used them for a long time. I signed up to study photography but was rejected.

Eventually, I landed in ICT and made a good living out of this. Next to this, I have my photography company, so I can make some money to pay for my studio space.

Was photography your first love? How did rope work follow?

At a very young age, I started photography; definitely too young to do shibari. However, also at a young age, I think when I was 7 or 8 years old, I learned to sail. That was the moment I became interested in ropes and knots. It started with macrame. Much later, when hair and other things started growing, I felt the urge to tie up women. Probably when I was in my early thirties.

In the first years, I did not combine photography and rope work. Those were separate hobbies, and the latter was limited to my practice on my wife. Only when she did not like to be tied anymore, I guess she had enough of it or getting too old for these games; I had to find a way to keep the love for shibari alive. As an excuse, I asked models if they were interested in this type of modelling. The intention is different, of course than in my relationship with my wife.

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Your rope work is impressive; how did you learn to tie all those knots? 

Thanks for the compliments! One of the reasons Shari looks good is because of the symmetry. I’m a bit obsessed with my symmetry and try to keep that in the rope work too.

When I started shibari, there was no internet. The books on this subject came from Japan with very nice pictures and a way to learn the knots and positions. Learning Japanese was too much for me.

Once you are active in this scene, you will meet lots of people who have the same interest, and you will learn from each other. Especially the safety rules are important, and you will not learn the basics from pictures. There are meetings called rope jams you can and actually should join if you are interested in Shibari. The first 10 times, I would not bother about taking pictures, concentrating on the rope bunny. See and feel how she experience the session.
Most photographers think it’s too easy to do, and their first shoots will fail, and the model will be disappointed.

Where do you find your inspiration for your photos?

You might see in my profile I use a theme in each set of pictures. Sometimes the theme is not so obvious, and sometimes it is bigger than the Shibari.

The inspiration comes from the model. I always ask what they expect and adjust the shoot accordingly. Once I have an idea what they like, I ask for something personal, like hobbies or dreams, profession, or anything that can inspire me.

For example, the shoot with @myskin.81 was based on butterflies. It symbolises her growth in life. The set is a sort from cocoon to butterfly. For another shoot with her, I built a set where candles dripped on her body. less shibari, but I take many sensual pictures too.

In the shoot with @heavenly.contradiction, we used her art paintwork, and the other shots we did based on her spiritualism. She is wearing a pink dress, and I used smoke and pink lights t make some mysterious pictures. Some girls have awesome acrobatic skills.

Dottir is from Scandinavia and has Iceland blood. I decided to pull her up in an Ice Blue spider web. Sometimes I explain in the caption, and sometimes the message in the picture is just known by the model and me.

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Is it difficult to find models, as I guess to say, “Can I tie you up and take pictures?” Is it a difficult message to deliver?

Not at all. I have more offers for models than I can handle at the moment. Shibari is very popular at the moment. So all new models come for this type of shoot to me.

Next to this kinky photography, I also do fashion and dance photography. I keep these accounts separate, though. That also counts for the models. Most models do not know about this genre. Only when I feel they are interested I show what else I do.

In the past, I asked models if they were interested in a shoot like this. Mostly my gut feeling is good, and they want to try. Sometimes only once, sometimes they keep coming back for Shibari only. Besides the photography, it is quite an experience for the model.

I always say, you like it, or you love it.

What is your camera and lens setup? Plus, what software do you use to edit your photos? 

For the last 25 years, I have shot with Nikon only. As I’m an old-fashioned guy, I use a heavy DSLR Nikon D850 as it has a great resolution. My lenses are:
Nikon 50mm F1.4
Tamron 24-70mm F2.8 G2
Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 G2
Sigma Art 85m F1.4

I start in Adobe Lightroom for corrections to the RAW images. This way, I can easily automate the basic tasks. It also can keep my library very visible.

From here, I send the customer or, in this case, the models the pictures for proofing.

Then the selected photos I post-process in Adobe Photoshop.

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In your opinion, what makes a good photograph? How do you decide when something you create meets or exceeds your expectations?

Light and shadow are the most important things for me for a good picture.

It has to light up the best parts of a person, and the shadows will give some tension and excitement. But of course, the composition is important too.

If you could invent a piece of photographic equipment you have not seen before to make your job easier, what would it be and why?

I don’t want an easy job, haha. I want to struggle and make mistakes, as this is where creativity shows up. If you have to find solutions to get things done, you will walk the rough path, but the views are tremendous.

Never take the easy flat roads as everyone else has walked them already. Climb the hills.

But for the new equipment, I’m very happy with my drone. When the weather is better and warmer, I will do outdoor Shibari shoots and plan some drone shots in a few months.

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Do you have any interesting/funny/scary anecdotes you could share with us about any shoots you have done (You can leave names out)

I have a rule, what happens in the studio, stays in the studio, just like in Las Vegas.

Anything can happen during a shoot, on purpose or by accident. Models have to trust there will be no rumours. I also like to keep the mystery around the shoot. Nobody knows what exactly to expect the first time they are tied up. Of course, except where I prepare them for or if they have specific requirements. This will cause a little tension, which is part of the excitement I like to capture. I want emotions in the picture, and most models give me that.

Sorry to disappoint you with my answer.

Do you have any goals you want to achieve in the next 2 years? 

Yes, and I actually gave myself only 1 year to accomplish it. My goal is to sell my work through a gallery in the Netherlands. Soon I will start printing my work in large format and try to sell my work.

In the same year, I want an exposition somewhere; it does not have to be a fancy place, just a place where I can show my best work.

But yeah, if it takes 2 years, it is OK with me too.

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