An Interview with the fetish photographer Matt Spike.
MasterMarc: Hi Matt. Some days ago Recon has presented the main image for the publicity campaign of the Fetish Week London 2016. And it actually is one of your photos. The great pic is showing a group of kinky guys wearing different fetish clothes with a projection of an image, which has been taken in the middle of the Themse, in the background. What was your idea behind this motive?
Matt Spike: Well, first of all I have to say that this was a collaboration between me and Sandy at Recon. However, it was a complete coincidence. About a year ago my ex-partner and I purchased a projector and projected some images onto his body. I found that this made a very striking effect, because it is an interesting use of light, and the overall effect is very powerful and colourful and the various patterns can look like tribal markings or tattoos.
The coincidence is that when trying to come up with a new concept for fetish week London 2016, Sandy had already thought of projection. So I showed him the images I taken with my projector and from there the concept began to grow.
Our main concern was that the previous fetish week in 2015 had been so well received that we thought we may have made it impossible to do better. So we were searching for a concept that was unique and hadn’t been done before on the fetish scene, where we could combine images of London with images of sexy kinky guys.
We also wanted to be contemporary. We had noticed that projection had been used in a few fashion editorials that we had seen, and we thought that it would be perfect for a London event.
MasterMarc: I’ve told you I think you did very good work, but I also know that artists are often very strict and demanding to themselves. When is a fetish picture good in your eyes, when are you happy with your job?
Matt Spike: I really don’t think there is ever a time when I feel an image is perfect, in the sense that an image could ever be free from defects.
This is on two levels: First that I always want to go further technically in terms of lighting and composition, but also I feel rarely fully satisfied by my ideas, always concerned that there will be a better idea, with a better statement.
This is not to say that i don’t have images from my own portfolios that I like, or even love, but I just think the idea of perfection is hard to achieve.
I think that part of the reason that I decided to become a fetish artist is that I wanted to express myself.
But I am changing as a person all the time, getting older, and my views on nearly everything are fluid. So in a changing environment, perfection cannot be achieved.
I sometimes feel that were I to choose to become completely satisfied with myself, and achieve “perfection”, that it would not be worth continuing to pursue the life I have created as an artist.
Plus also I do not come from an academic background in terms of photography. I have approached photography from an amateur level, and have taught myself, and have had some guidance from other photographers.
Perhaps it is the lack of a formal training in photography that leads to insecurity where my work is concerned.
MasterMarc: I think that perfection in art is an unreachable illusion. But can you tell us, what kind of special challenges so you see in the field of fetish photography? What is different? How can you transport a message with it?
Matt Spike: There are many special challenges ahead in the field of fetish photography. It’s a medium that until recently hasn’t been taken entirely seriously.
One of the greatest things that has changed in our society is the attitude towards sex, particularly I think in the United Kingdom. People are so much less afraid of sex these days that it is possible to use public transport in this city now wearing obscene fetish costumes and not get any reaction from anybody.
This simply pushes the people further in terms of ideas. Where once, for example in the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, it was shocking enough to see nakedness and the suggestion of kink, familiarity with nudity and unconventional forms of sex it is now possible to explore the psychology around sex.
As I previously mentioned, the fetish scene has grown to become more inclusive. This means that there are now many more “tribes” within the fetish community. For example, people switch roles frequently nowadays. Sometimes I feel dominant, sometimes they feel submissive. Maybe this was always the case, and we have experienced a change in protocol within the fetish community, which allows people to feel comfortable about switching rolls during Power Play. One of my favourite pieces of work was one that I did with Dom Quixote, who when he came to my studio, felt torn between his dominant and submissive sides. So we created an image where he served himself. Not moving the camera on the tripod, I first photograph him as a master, and then as a slave on his knees. We created the photo so that the two images of him were looking at each other eye to eye. It proves really popular, and shows clearly the struggle within himself to find out who he is.
Another example of the communication of a message in a fetish photograph, was when I created my chem sex series of images that I exhibited during the summer of 2014. These were a series of 10 images, some of which were shot at actual slam parties, and some that would pose, but the guys were all dressed in sexy clothes and shown using drugs in a realistic way. The motivation behind this was that within the biggest community there are multiple sub cultures, and one of the strongest subcultures is the chem sex culture. It was not my plan to change anything and say whether this was good or bad, right or wrong. It was simply to photograph realistic images, and present them in a way that left the viewer of the image to decide their own opinion. Was it sexy? Was it scary? Was it dangerous?
Finally, one of the phenomena that has occurred in the last couple of years is the huge popularity of the pup play. And I’m absolutely fascinated, after chatting to many pups, about the psychology behind this. This will be one of the things that I look at this coming year, 2016, and I hope to make a short film about it.
Another theme that I would in the future like to play with is gender. There seems to have been a fusion between the fetish community and the trans / cd community. This has occurred mainly in nightclubs, but sometimes in photos and music. There seems to be a new acceptance of gender difference – and this would be interesting to explore.
MasterMarc: When you’re making photos at live events or during slam parties you’re a kind of a neutral observer, just reporting what you see in an artistic way. But I am sure, to make real good pictures you need also to feel some kind of connection to the motive. So I have really to ask you, what are your kinks? What does attract you and what kind of fetish life are you living?
Matt Spike: Absolutely, it’s impossible to maintain a neutral position when observing anything extreme like this. Everybody has an angle on something, and when it comes to documenting, say, a slam party or a live sex event, I obviously interpret the visual side of things through the prism of my own sexual fantasies.
My lifestyle is quite close to being a 24/7 fetish lifestyle. I wear a leather jacket and jeans on a rainy Tuesday afternoon at the supermarket in January quite naturally as if it’s my second skin. I have often worn it to some commercial photo shoots that have nothing to do with the fetish world. I wear it when I go to visit my parents. I find it incredibly powerful and sexy to wear and don’t see why it should only be reserved for occasions when I’m having sex.
Similarly, I will play with slaves at any time. It doesn’t matter if it is Saturday or Tuesday or at any point during those days, I don’t have any compartment in my life for fetish. It simply exists, and can occur at any time during the week. I’m always thinking about sex, feeding my imagination….. Of course I have bills to pay like anyone else, so the only time when I don’t live a fetish lifestyle, is when I am working on commercial projects, and there is no sexual element. It therefore does not feel worth the effort.
In terms of what I like sexually, I have always been attracted to being a top. But this does not necessarily mean that I always want to be a master. It’s just that I like my cock very much, and I like to penetrate with it. I don’t necessarily have to be in control or dominate. Having said that, when I do dominate you, I dominate hard… The walls and carpet of my studio have, as a lot of my friends know, been stained with a number of bodily fluids! I enjoy spanking and caning people, and have photographed this, and also kept blood, come and piss stained towels as living works of art before.. I guess I am an extreme kind of person. People are quite surprised at how friendly and perhaps sweet I can seeing if they meet me. And perhaps there is still an old-fashioned idea that exists that somebody who is essentially quite polite could not possibly be dark as well. But I am. So when I am dominating, I dominate very hard. I don’t like bad attitudes in people, so I am often very pleased when a slave has no manners or respect, because I can punish them realistically. In this sense it’s not actually role-play, because I truly am punishing the person for having no manners. So I am always pleased if there is a legitimate reason for being very rough with somebody. It makes it more realistic.
On the other hand, sex does not always have to be aggressive for me. I can honestly say that one of my most favourite things to do is to provide the fist for a hungry bottom in a long, slow and very sensual fisting session. I like to send you a sleazy discovery. I feel the workings of a guys body from the inside with my hands, and I become fascinated by the way they behave when I am deeply inside them. Perhaps it is because I am getting older and perhaps turning into a daddy LOL, but I like to provide. I like to provide the pleasure using my own hands to the bottom and watching them orgasm as I massage them from the inside.
There are other things I enjoy, too. Occasionally I like to be bottom. I like to be tied up, and played with. I particularly like being tied up and then masturbated with my hands not free. I didn’t think I liked being fucked, but last year my ex-boyfriend introduced me to it, and it turns out that I have quite a talent for it. So, in an ever-changing world, my next mission is to discover that side too!
In an abstract sense, my kinks are about objectification, domination, submission, and pain. I also like exhibitionism, which is why I think I wear fetish gear quite a lot.
MasterMarc: If you live your fetish life and your kinks as intensely as you do than you know that feelings, sensations, thoughts, etc. are part of this big horniness inside you. How do you fix all this in a photo which is just showing a millisecond out of life? And how can you transfer all this feelings to the beholder?
Matt Spike: It is true that a photograph typically gets shot in at least a 60th of a second, but the creation of a photograph begins within the imagination. So I drew on my own kinks and the idea begins there. I have A little note pad on my phone and whenever a horny idea pops into my head, I quickly write it down. I also look at other works, not necessarily fetish works, and think about how that could be translated into a fetish photograph. I also think in advance about the location, and the lighting and how the lighting can play huge part in the mood of the photograph. I also have to think about the models in the photograph as well in advance. So when it comes to doing a photo shoot, a concept or idea, suitable model, and lighting have already been worked out. It is then up to me to ensure that the model is guided and the composition is successfully carried out, but what I love the most are what the French masters used to call “beautiful mistakes”. These are photographs which were not intended to be shot. It might be that the model pulled a facial expression or carried out an action that I didn’t ask for or encourage, but looks great. It’s a photograph that wasn’t intended to happen but when it happened it looks beautiful. My favourite example of this is a photograph that I took in New York in August 2014. The intention was for a breath control scene with the sub struggling for air whilst the top squeezed hard on his throat with a leather glove. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but something made the Sub laugh. However the top in the photograph, who happens to be summer colds, didn’t laugh and maintained a tough expression. Therefore the final result of the image looks as though there is pure ecstasy by strangulation. There is also a fascinating contrast between a beautiful smile and being strangled. A strange enjoyment of suffering. This wasn’t intended, but it really worked……
In other situations, it is just a question of being alert to the way people move and act and behave. This is why I encourage friendly, unstructured photo sessions with a minimum of formality. So that the mother feels completely comfortable in front of my camera, and I can carefully study his bodily movements. Quite often somebody will make a movement during the photographs that looks perfect, and I will simply say “stop!” And take the photo. So it’s a combination of beautiful mistakes, planned poses, and capturing moments that I am unprepared for.
MasterMarc: To be the photographer for the Recon campaign generates a lot of attention for your work in the fetish world. How do you like such kind of jobs and how important are them for you?
Matt Spike: I love working for big campaigns like the recon fetish week. These campaigns allow me to work with a team, where I am usually working solo, and keeps me in touch with the latest trends. They are very important to me because they reach out across the whole of the fetish community. Our last campaign was described by a marketing agency as “dangerous”, so the images go beyond the fetish community and into the wider sphere of photography in general. Which is great. They are also very different styles and photographers, so I get to work with others too and benefit from their input as well. It’s also really nice to see my work turned into posters and be interpreted by a designer.
MasterMarc: Hehe, your photos are definitly so hot that they’re dangerous. 🙂 Last two questions for today: First I have to ask you: Where you find all these hot models? That is a question many of our readers are asking and second: Where can people find your art work and how can they get it?
Matt Spike: No worries 🙂
The models that I use in my photo shoots I either find myself by looking through Twitter or Facebook, but quite often I am approached by models. I guess models and photographers are looking for each other all the time, so we are all bound to find each other! Sometimes, I just approach people in bars and clubs, and asked them if they would like to do it. It’s not necessarily the best approach as it can come across as a little creepy, but I have met some great models in bars and clubs!
If anybody out there would like to get in touch with me, then simply send me a Twitter or Facebook message!
In order to find my work, I’ve got a presence on all main social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and tumblr. But I also have a website that is going to be revamped soon. It’s at mattspikephoto.com – and also include some of my video work as well. I also exhibit. This year, so far, I will have work hanging out at the dirty show in Detroit, and I will also hope to have work done at the week fetish competition. There will also be in London a recon art exhibition through the summer.