Perth, Western Australia may be the most isolated capital city in the world but Wayne Henry from Warped Photography has no shortage of models to shoot his passion for latex.
Wayne’s camera looks past the shiny surface to the inner experience of his models to try to capture who we are when immersed in our fetish.
Wayne describes his day-job — he was a weapons systems engineer for the Australian Navy and is now a private contractor — as “rather boring”. It’s not an accusation that could be levelled at his photography.
Wayne’s interest in photography began in high school and developed during his time in the Navy, when he concentrated on shooting landscapes — for which he admits he didn’t have a great talent. So I wondered: when did he start focusing on fetish photography?
“I got the chance to work more with people when I came ashore in ’99. My wife Sarah helped me out a lot. We have a fantastic relationship where we’ll see an outfit or something then shoot our ideas.
“Working with Sarah helped build my confidence to show my work, then eventually to shoot other people. Digital came around and, through support from friends, I put my first stuff on the web.”
What drives you to create fetish images?
“I love to find a different aspect of the personality of my models that comes out when they wear fetish clothing, although this has only developed in the last couple of years.
“Originally, I started taking pictures to create images I wanted to see, but I just love watching people when they put on rubber — the rest of the world stops existing. Photography is almost worth it just for that!”
“Wearing the clothing does seem to affect people. You meet some who are so quiet then they put on a catsuit and thigh boots and it's like, bang! they change.
“I love getting to photograph that personality that you know other photographers didn’t get to see. The ones that shot them in fashion got the normal person…”
Did the scarcity of fetish magazines in Australia play a part in motivating you to create your own images?
“Originally, yes! When I was in the Navy it was impossible to receive subscriptions and, even after I settled down, many shops didn’t have the magazines I wanted.
“I also found that a lot of shoots I saw in those magazines built to a certain point but then… didn’t go anywhere. They just didn’t seem to take that ‘next step’.”
How do you find your models?
“Most of my models are friends who I’ve worked with before. When I’m contacted by someone new, if they have the right look, I’ll give them a call.
“A lot of the people I've shot over the last two years aren't ‘into it’ at all; they've just seen the images and wanted to try a shoot. About 90 percent of the people on my site have never worn rubber or boots over a three-inch heel.”
But you’ve also photographed top international fetish model Emily Marilyn. How did that come about and what was the experience like for you?
“She was great to work with. Within two weeks of initial email contact we had booked her to come out for the first Spank Fetish Ball in 2008.
“While she was here I organised workshops for other photographers with her as the main model, in addition to working on my own projects with her. She came back to Melbourne for the second Spank Ball in 2010, too.
‘It’s usually the photographer that puts the model at ease, but on my first shoot with Emily Marilyn, it was the other way around!’ – Wayne Henry
“Frankly, when I finally got to shoot Emily I was nervous, having such a prominent model in front of my camera! It was brilliant to work with her though and it boosted my confidence knowing my work would then be compared to all other photographers who’ve shot her.
“It’s usually the photographer that puts the model at ease but this time it was the other way around!”
Who has inspired your work?
“I have three main influences; First, Helmut Newton. He was able to get that ‘other person’ to come out. Second, Norman Richter, the partner of Susan Wayland. I’ve watched them go from shooting in the garage to where they are now. Following them has been a huge inspiration because I’m trying to do exactly the same thing.
“Third, Annie Lebowvitz. She manages to get the people and locations she wants, which is what I’d like to do. I want to create the scene, rather than take a photo, wipe out the background and drop the shot of the person in later.”
Would you like to make a living just from photography?
If I could I’d do it tomorrow! We’re a single income family so my day job has to provide us a regular income. In a downturn, my paid photographic work is the first thing to dry up. I also wouldn’t want to shoot stuff I don’t want to do then have to get the images out the door just to get paid. You’d lose the passion to do your own stuff.
“At the moment I choose who I work with, I plan my creative projects to get the image I want and I wouldn’t want to give that away.”
Do you prefer the studio to shooting in locations?
“I prefer the studio but have been doing more outdoor shoots. One of my favourite shoot is a model in a black latex catsuit on a saltlake flat! But when you haven’t got much time and need to control things like light, the studio makes shooting easier.”
Your dream shoot; anyone, wearing anything, anywhere — what would that shoot look like?
“I’ve had one in my head for ages — a Centaur-style look; like fetish pony but with horns, tail — a mythical look! As a location, I’d pick a ruin in Athens or somewhere like that. Who would I shoot? I’d be spoilt for choice. Maybe Bianca Beauchamp?”
What makes a great image for you?
“For me it’s simple: keep the focus on the person and their experience, what they’re wearing and, most importantly, how it’s affected them. If you can capture that inner personality of your model, people will go back to your work for a second look.
“I find the people I’ve shot have seen it too! If people see this depth in my work, that’s when I know that I’ve created a great image.”
How do you feel about the prevalence of fetish images in the mainstream?
“I like that it’s out there being seen and that it’s not so risqué anymore. It’s becoming more accepted so I don’t have as many people as I used to looking at me strangely because I say I shoot rubber!
“Ten years ago fetish photography was kinky porn! With it going mainstream, I think people are seeing that it can be something more.”
Do you think too many people are using it as a gimmick?
“Some people have said I’m only shooting fetish because Lady Gaga is doing it. I say I was into fetish before she was born!”
Where does the future of fetish photography lie?
“Optimistically — fetish photography will become even more mainstream but still maintain an edge ensuring that not all people will be into it and that there will always be something different about the nature of the work.
“Pessimistically — with the majority of photography being accessed on the web, demand for video will overtake the demand for still images. I think this could compromise the general quality of photography; so many videos I’ve seen are about wearing the gear then getting it off to have sex.
“I hope people who are genuinely into fetish will maintain the edge fetish photography needs to be visible while not being for everyone.”
And the future for Warped Photography?
“I’d love to have more work in print — it feels like your photography is justified — but that’s hard now as there are less and less publications. I’m looking forward to self-publishing a coffee table book in early 2011 and also exhibiting my work in local galleries.”
‘I hope that people genuinely into fetish will maintain the edge fetish photography needs to be visible while not being for everyone’