Ben is indeed a notorious photographer. His style of photography is a bit off compared to the “standard” pornography photographer, but in a good way. His flickr stream is definitely a bit extreme at some point but can also be incredibly funny. That is for sure an original photographer, a bold character and the man of the situation when there are damsels in distress … do not expect any help though 🙂 . I am very happy and proud that he allowed this interview to happen. Happy reading … and more hopefully.
-“Thank you, Ben, for accepting this interview for SLA Media. My first question to you Ben would be to understand when and how you discovered SecondLife? What did you want to discover in the new world when you started?”
Well, I think I was bored with Battlefield 2 at the end of 2006, and a friend of mine was talking about SecondLife, that it’s like a virtual world and stuff. I didn’t really expect to keep my avatar that long when I signed up, and the first month I spent pretty much exploring all kinds of crazy sims.
-“We are all surprised at how long we have stayed in the game. What led you to photography in SecondLife?”
Well, I’ve always been taking simple snapshots, but I think it really started when I took a rl photography course and got a camera. The rules for photography can be applied to SecondLife, so I started practicing taking portraits and such things.
-“… and then you arrive to the style you are producing today. How would you define your style? Do you consider it porn?”
Yes, I think it’s porn, but it often wanders into a very specific direction. There’s usually bondage or a “damsel in distress” theme involved. I’m not sure if you could call the solo bondage pictures with “just a girl tied up” porn, but it’s definitely in the erotic pictures category.
-“Why did you choose to develop those themes in your photography?”
I’ve always been into the D/s or BDSM stuff in SL, and great art in pictures lasts longer than a roleplay scene. I’ve also done Star Trek pictures, and do the occasional other pop culture picture, the bondage stuff is just one of the themes I like to pick for creating a great series of pictures. If people have their own little story going on in their heads while looking at my pictures, that’s what I try to achieve.
-“Interesting! I have seen indeed all theses themes in your stream. Speaking of that do you publish your work on other platforms than Flickr?”
Yes, I have a blog. http://kinkyslsmut.blogspot.de/. Because of all the set building effort I usually take a lot of pictures, and 2 of this set get released on flickr. It’s not worth putting a set of 10 or 12 pictures on flickr, people only get 2 really good ones of the set, and if they are interested they can check out the full set on the blog.
-“Interesting, I will have a look myself. How do you choose your models? Do you tend to work with the same people? Are you open to new models? What are your criterias?”
I have a couple of people I work with regularly, but I’m also open to new models. It’s the same people sometimes for different reasons. Sometimes it’s just a timezone issue, sometimes it’s because I think one specific model would be perfect for one specific shoot. And sometimes certain people are just super easy to work with. My criterias for choosing models are a realistically proportioned body, an interest in D/S or bondage themed pictures, and they must have a certain something. This certain something is difficult to explain, sometimes it’s their face, sometimes it’s the type of person their avatar is.
-“Now a difficult exercise: I would like you to pick in your flickr stream 3 or 4 pictures you’re the most proud of and explain why?”
Okay, let’s see:
A little backstory to this picture would be that I did a lot of “sex in weird places” pictures with PJ (read PJ Interview with us), like sex during freefall, or in a shark cage. And we always wanted to do a zero gravity shoot. and after quite some time of pushing this idea around we finally did it, together with Izzy. And I think the result is just great, it’s mixing pornography with comedy and science-fiction. 😉
-“The result is amazing indeed. Very original shot, funny and erotic at the same time. A second one?”
Well, this one is a bit more on the extreme side, but the looks are perfect for the theme, which could be described as “Sheik with kidnapped sex slaves”. It should be noted that I build sets like these myself, with props I’ve collected over the years in sl. So while the theme might not be for everybody, the editing makes it look very intriguing. Now it’s getting really hard to pick the last two
-“The set is really an achievement in my opinion. What is your third choice?”
I really like this one here, because it almost looks like an art print –
-“The color spectrum is cold, very interesting”
There are plenty of other pictures I could recommend, for example my “In the Virtual West” series, a series of black and white portraits. People who are really into photography will easily guess which photographer I’m paying tribute to with those.
-“Yes I know it’s very hard to make a choice”
Well, I’m just gonna pick an older picture now to represent one of my “specialties”, although that might be a dubious thing to be known for. The Moneyshot Portrait.
This picture is from the very first session I did with PJ, and it turned out very sexy, and very dirty. 😉
I have a whole album called moneyshots, and people seem to like them.
-“Well that’s an interesting album”
But I think it is hard to pick 4 out of a 1000 pictures, I’m not sure if that represents the whole spectrum of what I did and do.
-“OK a few questions on the tools you use in-world to take the shots. What are they? Do you post-process your picks in an editor, which one?”
I use anypose for the poses, my bondage models mostly use realrestraints products, and the lights and set I build myself. There’s also a “necklace maker” tool I use to make chains, but that’s for more elaborate shoots. For post processing I use photoshop and the nik collection plugins, a free collection of filter plugins. I’m not really good at photoshop, or at least haven’t practiced enough, but I do fix seams and other things that do not look right. Applying the filters later isn’t really a skill, it’s more like a creative decision which look I want for the pictures, and then I just play around with different things until I get there (or at least close).
-“Very interesting! So what are your projects? New themes? Videos? Anything?”
There’s still a backlog of ideas that I haven’t done yet, or which were to difficult to organize so far, and there are always new ideas. I still have the complete TOS Enterprise and a Captain Kirk outfit, so I could go really sci-fi nerdy, there’s my infamous Sheik outfit for new exotic themed bondage stuff, etc, etc. I’m not a big fan of videos in SL, but I did a couple of “comics”, so to say. Like a short porn story. “Busted” is probably the best example for this (click on the image to see the full set):
That’s something I’d like to do again some time, but something like this is a lot of work, just the shoot alone takes a couple of hours, easily.
-“Nice one! I imagine it is huge work and lot of skills … but the results is fantastic. OK my last question. Tell us something surprising about yourself. Anything that could be of a surprise”
I started out with a giant avatar.
-“Really? If you have a shot of it that would be interesting to post.”
I don’t think I have a picture of that I’d like to show, it’s a bit like showing off your high school pictures when you were going through “that phase”. 😉
-“Haha no worries. So we are done Ben, thank you for your time and patience”
Thank you for picking me for this interview.
-“No really your work is just amazing, we have to promote it.”
Thank you, you never really see it that way as the creator of the stuff.
-“Well that catches my eyes and believe I have browsed many many flickr streams before”
Yeah, it depends on what people put into their art. Some people just do snapshots during a roleplay session.
-“Actually this is what I do … and I write stories based on those sets …. it’s fun but far from the result you can produce.”
Well, I’m not giving people a real story, it’s just pictures, they can fill in the blanks, and their blanks might be much better than what I could put in there.
This here is another big set where people make up their own story about it. It was big in terms of effort too.
-“I am indeed tempted to write the stories. Thank you Ben for making us discover your world!
My pleasure Cathy
We convened to meet a few days later for the shoot and … well … it was in the typical Ben’s notorious style. Not that I would complain, I would rather sooner than later have another shoot with him. But enough words isn’t it? Let’s make room to the pictures, they use to speak for themselves in Ben’s work:
The full set is available on Ben’s kinky blog … it’s not for the softies, you are warned!
Thank you Ben, it has been a kinky moment indeed!