Monday, April 29, 2013

Day Dreaming

One of my favorite things about erotic art is it's role as a mini-mental-vacation.   Whether  viewing images that slip me from my daily grind into a special memory or fantasy,  or creating images that will hopefully do the same for others ... I find that mentally sidestepping into another world is very refreshing and calming.

I know there are many advantages to techniques like meditation ... but I am absolutely inept at emptying my mind!  Nature abhors a vacuum and my brain is just too busy.   But the allure of beauty and passion can at least slow me down enough to remember to breathe deeply for a moment.  I defy you to spend 5 minutes visually absorbing these lovely ladies without lowering your blood pressure (if not your pulse!), clearing your mind of minutiae, and smiling at the possibilities that lie outside of your routine.   

Looking forward to sharing another week of erotic getaways with all of you here at shadowsexposed! :-)

Daydreams - 042913 - Miz B

Grace - 042913 - Miz B



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden Fruit - 042413 - Miz B - photo courtesy of Zakka


In discussing another post, reader Warren made this very accurate observation:

Forbidden fruit is always more tempting. 

Freedom to express one's sexuality in the open in no way invalidates the allure of the shadows ... there is something so much more exciting about fulfilling secret desires, concealed in the darkness, and eluding discovery!  

What is the allure of the taboo?   Is it the thrill of the danger that we will be caught?  Is it the naughty feeling of being "bad" and getting away with it?   Is it the elevated value of anything that is rare and nearly unattainable?   I'm going to go with All of the Above!  

Even Adam & Eve, cavorting naked and unashamed in the blissful Garden of Eden could not resist the pull of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.   Nearly every mythology in history includes certain things that are off limits - and thereby obviously irresistable and the cause of the hero's downfall.   Cautionary tales abound ... but nevertheless, we are drawn to forbidden fruit like moths to the flame.

So let's assume off the top that we've learned through experience that when it comes to forbidden pleasures, the juice is worth the squeeze ... the risks and the potential for disastrous consequences don't even come close to discouraging us because we KNOW that the potential rewards are worth it all!   

We all want to be the wild child sometimes ... we want to be daring and reach for the brass ring.   If someone somewhere doesn't want us to have something, it must be REALLY worth having!   In our jobs, in our daily lives, in our relationships, we may be limited by the rules.  But in our fantasies, we can have it all ... sex is that magical part of life where anything is possible.  Whether through conquests or role-playing, alter-egos or simple imaginings ... the forbidden fruit is in reach.

For me personally, I crave challenge... low hanging fruit holds no appeal.   What really lights my fire is a puzzle ... a quest for a forbidden goal.   Tell me someone can't be had, and their seduction becomes a true prize.   Tell me I mustn't, so I can scheme how I may.   Tell me never, so I can prove you wrong over and over again.   I am contrary, offended by limits, and competitive.   Forbidden fruits are my birthright so grow them atop massive peaks and guard them well ... the sweetness of their harvest is ripened by their taboo!



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ying & Yang - Double Standards in Erotic Photography

In a comment on our last post, reader V posed the hypothesis that there is a gender factor in how artists are perceived in erotic photography ... an idea that rang true with me and got me to thinking about many aspects of the double standards we encounter.  Some of these benefit me, some of them confound me, and almost all of them piss me off by their very existence!

First, let me say that one of the reasons I was super-excited to undertake this blog with Side B is that we do offer the balance of both male & female perspectives.   Many contrasts between our works reflect this basic difference and the fact that we complement each other so well in many ways is a major strength of these early days of shadowsexposed!  From my perspective, it's not about denying that there are differences between genders, but in embracing them without judgement and not trying to cram someone in a box of our preconceived boundaries of that gender.  I suspect that a consistent reader has already begun to recognize which of us is offering up an image without reading the credit ... but may not always predict correctly.   

The original discussion that led us here pertained to Side B's need for anonymity and his conflicted feelings about reaction to his erotic work were he to claim it in the light of day.   V insightfully perceived that as a male, he might encounter a very different reaction than the one that meets my more open acknowledgement of my life on both sides of the wicked lens.  I think there is undeniably more of a stereotype for men to overcome on the photographer's side ... the genre has been soiled by creepy guys with cameras, predators who promise fame and glory to naive young things and then abuse and use them most horrifically.   They are "dirty old men," "smut peddlers," and "scumbags" exploiting women.   On my side of the gender line, even if I'm perceived as a predatory cougar, luring muscled young studs into my studio with ulterior motive, somehow this is a fantasy fulfilled rather than a nightmare come to life!   I'm reminded of the moment in American Pie when the lead character wakes up  in the morning to find his lover gone and says, "I was used ... I was used!!  COOL!!"  This is a distinctly male perspective, methinks!   I've never heard of a single female model who lies about having slept with a photographer to try to make themselves look good, but it happens all the time with male models in my experience, "Hell yeah, I hit that!"... ummm, no you didn't Junior! 

This idea leads us to the next major element of the double standard which impacts more on the model side.   I call it the SSS ... stupid slut stereotype.   A man who gets naked on camera is a stud, who is right to be proud of the body he works hard for, and is clearly an alpha-male.   A women who does the same is a slut, showing off, and most likely too stupid to know she is being exploited.  Furthermore, she is probably "asking for it" - whatever the hell that is supposed to mean!   It's actually kinda fun to watch conservative, judgemental people try to argue that in my case I am both the stupid slut being exploited AND  the evil mastermind behind my own exploitation!   Whatever my personal opinion of her work or personal life, I'll be the first to admit that Jenna Jameson was a trailblazer in taking advantage of the tendency for society to underestimate a woman's intelligence and business sense simply because she has more than a B-cup bust and isn't afraid to show it!  Simply put, underestimate me, PLEASE!! While you are calling me degrading names, I'll be cashing checks and building an empire.

Finally, I'd like to revisit the objectification question in the double standard debate.   I've worked with models of both genders who will do things for me that they won't do for a male photographer.   They inherently feel more free, more empowered, and less objectified because I am female.   This isn't my guess, it's been explicitly stated.  90% of the time, the shutter is being triggered by a male photographer on set ... but the vision is mine, the vibe is mine, and the trust is directed towards me.  Part of this may be attributed to a solidarity because they know I've been in their shoes.   But I suspect that there is another idea in play that I am truly seeing them instead of a conglomeration of body parts  ... that I am seeking to expose their essence instead of their surface ... that I am validating their sexuality instead of exploiting it.   While it may be true in my case, I don't believe this to be true of every artist with a vagina ... and I believe it to be equally true of Side B.   But how is a model walking in off the street to know this?   We all sometimes rely on our primal, instinctive wiring ... in this case that the female represents the nurturing spirit and the male personifies the predatory.   We must all remember though that nature presents no more ferocious creature than a hungry female with young to feed and no more steadfast creature than an alpha male who has taken responsibility for the pack.     Welcome back to the ill-defined spectrum, where one must actually evaluate each being on their character rather than their genitals!  

Alpha - 042113 - Miz B

I appreciate Miz B's view on this topic and have little to add to it.  I agree that the double standard can come from the predatory nature of men and the bad guys-with-cameras (gwc) out there that hurt us all.  On top of that, I have to admit it also has to do with just history of erotic creation.  Most published erotica of all media over the history of humanity was created by men.  I want to emphasize published because I don't know how much of erotic materials created by women exists that never got to be published.

For centuries, the male gaze has dominated all media due to men controlling the publication of it.  Thanks to all these centuries of it, we have a pretty good idea of what a guy sees in the erotic world.  I want to acknowledge there have been female contributors to this, such as Anais Nin, Ruth Bernhard, and other important creators, but the preponderance of it has been made by men.

This brings us back to the double standard then and one of my thoughts on it.  I am one man, among so many, that has created this stuff.  I think one reason there is more acceptance of women's erotic creations is that these creators are bringing a new voice, new beliefs, and new views into erotica, sexuality, and the art coming from it.

Even though I believe my art is unique and offers something new to view, I must acknowledge that as a male producer of it, my perspective may be overwhelmed by the centuries of the other male creators in the past.  My goal is to continue to create it and get it out there and to also eagerly encourage, promote, anticipate, and celebrate what all others in the genre create.  I am comfortable with losing room so we can learn from new pioneering voices that haven't been heard from, or not heard from enough.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Is that a camera in your pocket ... ?

Krysta Kaos - 041913 - Side B

The beautiful Ms V. asked us the following questions:

Do you prefer location or studio shoots? What other types of photography do you enjoy? Do you feel your art separates you from a portion of society and (if so) how do you deal with it?

They are all great questions, so here we go.

Do you prefer location or studio shoots? 

I prefer location shoots for a variety of reasons.  First, I enjoy finding simple and complicated locations that create a setting for the story.  Whether it is a generic business traveler's hotel, an early 20th century home with hardwood floors, or a the model's cool apartment/studio, I like to work with the challenges they present me.  I have used Nikon Speedlights off-camera to add to whatever natural light is available.  Second, I want the location to be part of the story or narrative of the image.   I want it to convey the mood and history of the moment.

For the photo above of the great SF bay area model, Krysta Kaos, I used her retro apartment for the location.  You can't beat the green velvet couch. 

I'm with Side B on this one ... location shoots rock!   Studio shoots are too predictable and repetitive. My photographers seem to be more creative when challenged with unfamiliar surroundings and technical hurdles, models seem to be more inspired by a place with some "vibe" than a studio setting, and I enjoy styling shoots in sumptuous locations that inspire more interaction with environments.  Modeling for me is often more about acting and emoting than "posing" -- being on location instead of in a studio makes it easier to slip into a role, absorb the energy around me, and become whoever I need to be for that shoot.

What other types of photography do you enjoy? 

I've dabbled in many other types, including street photography (NYC is the holy land for that), landscape, journalism, editorial, fashion, product, portraiture, and other stuff.  All of them give me some satisfaction.  Erotic photography though is more of that special itch that can't be satisfied without expressly doing it.  I crave creating it and need it as a regular fix.  Addiction?  Maybe.  Better than heroin though.

As for media, I primarily use digital and medium format black and white film (shot in my Diana, Yashicamat, or Hasselblad).  I recently picked up a great Polaroid Land Camera and used it at my last shoot with Krysta (but not for the photo above).    It has a great voyeur appeal to it.

For me, what you see on the blog is what you get!  I do some more vanilla, commercial work in the studio, but it holds no real passion for me.   When my photogs and models are into various genres,  I'm always happy to help them with those in both styling and post-production.   We work exclusively in digital and I wouldn't know what to do in an old-school dark room aside from trying to distract the photographer from his ministrations lol!    Addiction - interesting thought, Side B!   Working on an erotic set in any capacity is a rush ... I crave it, miss it when I've been too long without it, and revisit past shoots in my head often ... perhaps it is my "drug" of choice! 

Do you feel your art separates you from a portion of society and (if so) how do you deal with it?

Short answer, "Yes".  My erotic photography separates me from two major groups, general society and family/friends.  Part of this separation is from the morals and aesthetics that may shock or disgust both groups.  The other is from my hesitation and fear of how family, friends and general society would view me for creating it.  Why do you think I use the pseudonym of Side B?

To get around these issues, I publish only in safe places or anonymously.  I share only with like-minded people (none of which includes family) and exhibit only in sex-positive places.  I strongly desire the day though when I can put my real name under the photos and take ownership.

I am luckier in that I am pretty "out" to the world ... my pseudonym is more a function of branding than  anonymity.  I absolutely feel separated from a huge portion of society ... but this is by choice.  I'm not worried about people's reaction to me - I'm concerned with my reaction to people!  (And this is for many reasons besides just my art ... I'm also separated by my intelligence, my open nature, my passion, etc., etc.)   I have outgrown the need to try to defend my choices in life or in art ... I have no patience with judgement or moral outrage ... I am content to create a sex-positive, safe zone where like minds are welcome.   I've built my team on the idea of giving people an open, non-judgemental, fun, artistic, quality environment in which to express themselves.   I often feel like a mother grizzly bear ... I know my territory, I'm comfortable in it, and I pity the person who threatens it or any of those under my protection.  Are there circumstances in which I stay low-key?  Of course.  But I am not ashamed or afraid of anyone seeing my work.  So I guess you could say I deal with the isolation by reveling in it ... it's always less crowded and more comfortable in first class! :-)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Harmonize With Us

“The body is an instrument which only gives off music when it is used as a body. Always an orchestra, and just as music traverses walls, so sensuality traverses the body and reaches up to ecstasy.”  ~ Anaïs Nin


B Tender - 041713 - Miz B

Sinfonia d'Amore


Vibration, rhythm and crescendo

Maestro resonates through me.
Lightly strumming skin ...
steady drumming deep within.   

Delicate flutter-tongue,
Venus sighs vibrato.
Growling teeth on throat ...
each caress  a note.

Throbbing paradiddles,
allegro, agitato!
Fortissimo amore mio...
molto dolce,  concerto nostro!

                                        ~Miz B


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hyde-ing in the Shadows

As promised, this post begins to answer some of the awesome questions posed by our readers!   D.L. Wood asked:  "Do you have a Jekyll and Hyde part of you?"

Those of you not familiar with Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,  should definitely take the time to savor his tour of the shadows of repression and indulgence of baser desires.  While many seem to consider it a simple tale of split personality, one good & one evil, I believe it to be much more nuanced and accurate exploration of desire and accountability.  Steven Padnick delivers an excellent analysis of Jekyll & Hyde  on Tor.com!


It seems to me that ALL of us have a craving within us for pleasures not socially acceptable, morally justifiable, or psychologically comfortable.   Control of our impulses separates us from lesser beings ... and from psychopaths!   Interestingly, there is a school of thought  that repression of desire and eventual inappropriate expression of these impulses are not unrelated.   Many sexual sadists are the products of overly religious, intensely repressed homes - especially those where corporal punishment greets early sexual impulses.   It often strikes me that desires and lusts and deep dark fantasies are not as dangerous as the denial of them!  They lose their sting when they lose their shame.  Obviously there are limits to this philosophy  ... most simply defined as the point at which your pleasure is derived at the cost of (unwelcome) pain to another.

I suspect, however, that D.L.'s question was more in the spirit of finding that shadowy alter-ego in each of us ... that slightly wicked side that loves to come out and play when our daily lives aren't watching.   I suppose for me the simplest answer is that Miz B *is* my evil twin ... I don't go to my kids' baseball games in snakeskin, stilettos, and handcuffs ... neither do I go to work/play in sweats and a baseball cap lol!   It is, however, highly debatable which side of me is the truer expression of my spirit ... I would be loathe to choose one persona and limit my entire life to it.  I find it most interesting that neither side is particularly acceptable to the opposite world ... people generally seem to prefer a simple one-dimensional person.  I can almost fathom why the soccer moms who have let themselves go and have no identity of their own would resent Miz B, but I'm baffled as to why the wild-siders would be threatened by a dishwashing, laundry folding, taxi-driving domestic goddess?!   Make no mistake, wherever I focus your eye, the shadows still conceal the entirety of me.   I may not be able to have it all (at the same time!) but I will absolutely BE all of me!  

My take on the Jekyll/Hyde dichotomy goes beyond the sexual.  My nom de plume here is inspired by it.  It harkens back to the vinyl days of music where we had to get up and flip a record to get to the music on the other side.  I believe we all have a Side A, B, and more.  I have my work side, my family side, my lover side, my art side, etc.  All of these have vestiges of each other, but are unique.  While I appreciate the need to separate these different sides of me for protection, privacy, and respect to others, I also realize that by so rigorously segregating these sides, I am not sure if any single person has seen all my sides.   By being so segregated or compartmentalized, am I holding myself back from being a more whole human?  

As an artist, I find that every model has more than one persona - and the thrill for me is in bringing them out!   Enjoy two sides of the gorgeous Asia from a recent shoot in Austin, Texas ... with which would you rather spend an afternoon?


Nymph - 041413 - Miz B

Asia - 041413 - Miz B

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The quickie

Valya - 041113 - Side B
The quickie.  It means many different things.  It can be the quick tryst against the wall in an alley.  You may remember that time you pulled to the side of the road and fogged the windows. After these moments end we go about our day with sly smile and slightly funny walk.

The quickie is one of those little treats in our lives like carnal ice cream cones.  They make that moment special, last only few brief minutes, and leave a little mess.

Monday, April 8, 2013

There's More Than One Way to Take My Breath Away ...

Asphyxia - 040813 - Miz B

In your grasp
Is 34 inches of leathered
Trust and devotion.
Perfectly balanced around
My neck of ivory and crème

I yield to you.

I yield to 
The slow embrace
Of leather that straddles
The asphyxiated lines
Of ecstasy and oblivion

This is the moment...
The pregnant pause
Before Le petit mort's fire
sizzles on salacious tongue
And illuminates 
Like fireflies behind delicate eyelids.
No need for safe word or safety nets
I freefall into the safety of knowing
You know me, my wants and desires 
My strengths and weaknesses
You know the light and dark of me
And this is why I yield to you.

My petals swell with the gentle nature of
Your touch, the roughness of your pluck-ing
And I exposed my neck to feel the vampire bite
Of the cool steel belt buckle across my neck.

My lips glisten with the taste of trust
For nothing tastes sweeter than this
And right here, I am the bruised fruit
Handled with care in your hands 
Take your fill of me until
My devotion runs sticky down your
Face.

You are the Master to my submissive
The sub to my dominate ways
This is the place where
Devotion and trust resides
Where I Yield to 
your willl


Thanks to R. Yearby for another sizzling collaboration ... your words take my breath away as surely as that belt!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Well I hope this old adage is true ... I've enjoyed a lovely family vacation in Orlando, but after so much Mouse & Mommy time, I must confess to a yearning for some mischief!   I hope that you've missed me a lil bit, as I have certainly missed romping in the shadows with all of you! :-)  

Let's Get Wet - 040613 - Miz B



Side B & I are enjoying sifting through your questions and preparing some intriguing posts in reply ... hopefully you are all aware by now that we'll be turning some of these questions back on you in the near future!  In the meantime, I had an interesting discussion with a friend recently that I'd like to hear your thoughts on as well.   At the risk of being too obviously on one side of the debate, I'll simply title this discussion "Monogamy :  Moronic Myth or Meaningful Moral?"  I'd give you my humble opinion, but I suspect you are all wise to the fact that I have no HUMBLE opinions!   So here's my in-your-face-of-course-I'm-right-try-to-keep-up opinion! (It's a metaphor, so bear with me here!)

Let's say that you happen to LOVE spaghetti ... I mean it is your absolute favorite dish in the entire universe.   You enjoy having it often, in numerous variations, as a regular part of life, and on special occasions.   Still, I'd be willing to bet that NONE of you would want to eat only spaghetti, every single meal, every single day, for the rest of your life.   I'd also venture a guess that were you forced to do so, you'd eventually merely tolerate spaghetti, and sooner or later outright despise it!   Take any other matter of taste - from the color of your favorite shirt to your preferred leisure activity - and most people would agree that variety is crucial to life and can actually enhance your enjoyment of your favorites as part of a balanced lifestyle.   So why on earth do people suddenly assume that sex is the lone exception?  That somehow if you love someone, you want nothing but them for all eternity?

Now before you tell me that love is magically different than spaghetti (for the record I do believe it is), let me remind you that we all acknowledge that you can have different friends whom you truly love in very different ways.  Let me also mention that most people would agree that having multiple children doesn't divide your love, it multiplies it ... even if you love each one for different reasons and in different ways.   So love itself is not inherently exclusive or selfish.  What is is about romantic love that so many people hold to be the exception to this premise?   Love of spaghetti in no way diminishes the enjoyment of creme brûlée ... love of the beach in no way negates a delight in the mountains ... so WHY should a love of one person be judged true only if it excludes all others?   

What say you, my friends?


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

More questions, please.

Leila Swan - 040213 - SideB

We received some questions from our fantastic readers.  Please continue sending them!

Are you shy?
Are you afraid of shocking or offending us?
Don't worry!  We can keep your questions anonymous.  You can ask via the blog comments or by sending an email to shadowsexposed@gmail.com.

Until next time, enjoy this photo of the beautiful LeilaSwan.