Posted at 12:18 on 7 Feb 2016 by Pandora / Blake
While I was in Melbourne I thought it would be fun to shoot for some Australian porn sites. Thanks to my connections I already had some contacts, and before I left the UK Michelle Flynn had booked me to shoot for Yanks. Once I was there, I also sent off applications to Girls Out West and Feck. I didn’t end up fixing a date with Girls Out West, but Feck got back to me and booked me to shoot for two of their sites - Beautiful Agony and I Shot Myself.
I’ve been performing in porn for nearly ten years, but in all that time I’ve never worked for mainstream studios. All my experience has been in the UK spanking/fetish scene, where sites are mostly run by couples or individuals working from home, or for similarly small scale feminist porn outfits like Bright Desire. So going into the offices of Girls Out West and Feck offices for an interview was a weirdly new experience. It was surreal, as a relatively experienced performer, to be put in the role of a newbie, auditioning for production companies half a world away. The Feck offices in particular are dauntingly professional - I mean the idea of a porn company having offices in the first place is already a bit alien for me, used to the miniscule budgets of UK fetish porn - but Feck’s offices struck me as particularly snazzy; in the hipster bit of Melbourne, with a lobby and pot plants and a receptionist and lots of different people sitting behind desks in lots of different rooms. Porn on this scale is a totally different world.
Most porn viewers have heard of Feck, or one of their sites. They've been going for over 12 years, and Beautiful Agony, the site showing people's faces (and only their faces) at the moment of genuine orgasm, is famous. I had originally hoped to work for I Feel Myself the sensual solo and couples masturbation site with high production values, which various friends of mine including Zille Defeu have shot for, but it turned out they needed content for Beautiful Agony and I Shot Myself more urgently.
I Shot Myself is an erotic photo site that's been around since 2003, and is still updated with a whole new gallery every day. All the images are self-shot, with each performer taking photos of themselves. The idea is that without another person behind the camera, the process avoids exploitation and the performers retain full control over the images, acting as both photographer and producer. As ethical principles go it’s not a bad start - I mean, producers and photographers can still be exploited by the people paying them, so it's not totally watertight, but it’s a smart idea, and I'm pleased that it's proved so successful. Personally, I definitely felt like I had more ownership over my images than when posing for a standard erotic photoshoot.
In fact this was my first time shooting a solo photoset of myself, and I was surprised at the difference. I’ve modelled for a lot of photosets over the years - perhaps thousands - and I’ve shot a considerable number as a photographer, so both roles are familiar ones. But I hadn’t realised combining them would change the experience so completely.
It was liberating being alone in the room - without anyone else there, I relaxed into posing without self-consciousness. I could try new ideas and experiment without feeling silly, and I could be myself without trying to fit someone else’s idea of what was sexy.
So it made modelling easier - and on top of that, I got to experience the pleasure of being behind the camera. I love taking photos. For me, it's not only creatively fulfilling, it changes the way I see the world - photography is the art of seeing beauty and trying to capture it. I really enjoyed having total control over the images I was creating; using the light to my advantage, choose the most flattering angles, and taking as much time as I wanted to get a particular shot just right, or play around and see what worked and what didn’t.
One of the things I love about being a photographer is showing my model the beauty I see in them, and making them feel beautiful. It was immensely affirming to give that experience to myself. Normally, taking a selfie is a guilty pleasure - it’s fun, but one can’t help feeling a little vain. Shooting for I Shot Myself, I’d made a professional agreement and been given a clear brief: to produce at least 100 photos, three quarters of them fully nude, to do a striptease and have fun. This wasn’t sheer self-indulgence, it was work I was being paid for, and creative work at that. Being paid to see the beauty in my own body, and to capture it the way I wanted to, without having to conform to anyone else’s beauty ideals? Taking these photos was an act of self love.
The world is beautiful, and each of us carries that beauty within us. Inner beauty reflects outer beauty in the reflection of sunlight in our eyes, the colours that natural light reflect on our skin. For years I didn't feel beautiful, but now, as an adult, it's a pleasure to discover beauty in my own body. The lens draws out my confidence, makes me expand until I fill my skin to bursting, makes me feel strong, powerful, proud. I enjoy my body and my sexuality for the pleasures they allow me to feel, and the fun things they allow me to do. It's not about performing for someone else's approval; it's about being true to yourself, doing what feels good, and feeling comfortable in your skin.
Shooting these pictures, I did feel beautiful. I was enjoying my body, enjoying the dappled warmth of late-afternoon Australian sunlight on my skin, enjoying the creative challenge of working within the constraints of self-portraiture. (For ISM, you can't use the camera's timer, so all the shots have to be taken with a mirror or at arms - or toes! - length.) It was pure, unadulterated self-expression.
I really enjoyed shooting myself, and will definitely do it again next time I get the chance. You can check out my I Shot Myself folio here - and many more besides. The site is updated with a new erotic photo gallery by a different artist every single day, and as I write this it boasts a total of 5,884 performers, 8,697 galleries, and 657 self-shot videos too. That's a pretty impressive collection. And if you use this link, or enter the promo code 84210865 when you sign up, you’ll get 10% off your membership fee. Oh, and if you do, keep an eye out for the fading cane bruise at the top of my right thigh - somehow I don't think those are a very common feature on I Shot Myself...