All Tied Up

I had never heard of Shibari until I started doing photography. Broadly speaking, Shibari means “binding” or “tying”. Rope ties were used to restrain prisoners and this morphed into a symbol of eroticism in the BDSM community, much like handcuffs are used in an erotic context in western society.

What’s unique about Shibari is the influence of Japanese  cultural aesthetics. The subject isn’t bound in a brutish way. Instead, the ties embody principles such as imperfection and simplicity, use of space, elegance, and subtle beauty.

It uses the body as a canvas and rope as the medium.  The ties are intricate. It involves detailed knotting with multiple layers of ropes, woven together in complex ways that create texture and depth. Ahna, who did these ties, is a master of the art. In this shoot in particular, I like the contrast of the dark rope with Jennie’s light skin. The rope itself provides a beautiful textural element. 

In this shoot we tried a number of lighting setups. I did three sets with Jennie. The first one used one light, the second two lights and the third three lights.

In this first set, I used a single light in front of Jennie with black v-flats on each side of her to produce negative fill. 

The second set was a more typical bodyscape with a couple of lights set up behind her. The ties are less obvious as they fall into shadow, but the contours of the body are highlighted providing a sensual but elegant look.

This third set was a three light set up. Two lights behind her to separate her from the background and a light with a 36″ modifier positioned more or less overhead. I purposely let her face fall into shadow. Unlike the first set, these images are more about lines and movement than the person.