The Art of Rope Bondage Modeling

shaving01From 2000 to 2007, it was my pleasure to spend time as a fetish, bondage and adult film model/actress. It took me on so many wild journeys from being spanked by a certain iconic mouse in Orlando to being a beautiful clown in Seattle, being a pony for Playboy TV in West Virginia to dangling from rooftops in Los Angeles. In Berlin I tormented beautiful boys, and in Sydney masturbated with iconic architecture behind me. While being adorned with ridiculously long nails I even learned that I can tie someone up wearing them, but I could not pull up my own underwear safely.

I was contacted recently about if I had ideas and tricks about modeling for bondage photographs, having spent those years in front of the camera, as well as a long time behind it in the industry as well. I started brainstorming in the email, and by the end of the message, I realized it was a long list that others might enjoy seeing as well. I still use many of these ideas when doing stage shows or rigging for bondage shoots.

It may not occur to the outside eye, but many bondage photo shoots are not in fact bondage scenes. They are constructed fantasies built for the outside eye. We do this all the time in culture nowadays, when weddings are built not for being in the magical moment, but for the best shot for the photographer. So it is with these images. In hot scenes in the bedroom, riggers are rarely barely behind their models unless they like the feeling of their chest against someone’s back, breathing against their neck as they whisper promises of what comes next. They are not out of the shot as someone suspends; they are inches away in case a transition needs to happen or someone needs fondled.

rojo018The ideas below are for shoots, though some of them apply for play as well (such as hydration, stretching and eating actual food). That said, here are ideas I picked up in bondage modeling:

  • Let riggers and photographers know when you have 3-5 minutes left, not when you are done. It lets them get in a few last images and untie you before you have to be out.
  • Cheating the face slightly to the side and down, or side and up, etc can help hide double chins… even if you don’t normally have any. Cameras magically manifest them.
  • If you see or feel twisted ropes, let riggers know. It can be annoying in final images.
  • Rolling eyes back may feel hot, but rarely is in images.
  • Ask photohraphers what their goal is. Helpless? Beautiful? Debased? It can help you get their desires met.
  • Check in with them afterwards (or during shoot) if that is what they meant.
  • Look at pictures of yourself when you get them back. Which ones do you and they like the most? What poses should you remember for the future? Remember them, and consider what shared traits they had.
  • Everyone, no matter how thin, can have belly rolls and side-folds in pics. Never use it to be mad at yourself. You are human, and so is everyone else.
  • Find clothes that look good on you, but that also coordinates with the goal of the shoot, and avoids too much muffin-top (which happens on thighs and bras too. One size too large for normal wear is okay sometimes. However, muffin-tops happen to everyone, especially in tight rope (ESPECIALLY in thigh-ties. EVERYONE)
  • Move between poses slowly. It gives folks time to catch the mid-pose transitions that are sometimes the best shots.pearled009
  • For poses like a gyaku-ebi, the ropes staying taut is part of the look. This means not flexing further after the ropes are tied. This means you can cheat making ropes look better by pulling against loose ties.
  • Forehead wrinkles, unless in debasement situations, are worth practicing in advance as to how to avoid them when possible. But again, everyone gets them.
  • Don’t wear bras or tight pants/underwear pre-shoot for at least 20 minutes. Bra lines show, even with rope covering them.
  • Have fun!
  • Hydrate in advance. Hydrate during.
  • Pee between sets, even if you don’t think you need it.
  • Eat fueling food, not just carbs, earlier that day. Starvation can lead to passing out.
  • If folks get all the poses they say they want, ask if you can play around in the rope to see what else your body comes up with. Awesome stuff sometimes happens.
  • Wrist ties leave marks. If they want non-marked ties (karada only for example), remind your rigger that you may want to go in another order of ties, unless they like marks. Same goes for facial bondage.
  • Heels – clean the bottom before the shoot. Non-outside heels are also great. Clean off all stickiness of a label was ever on it.
  • Undies and bras – consider removing labels/tags. They will fall out, and photographers may not notice. Especially on any sort of translucent clothing of any Timothy Burns
  • Daydream ideas that you would have fun doing so that this can be collaborative sometimes.
  • Be clear if their idea is unlikely to work on your body.
  • STRETCH before and after. Real stretching, not just 2 seconds in each direction. Think about runners.
  • Look up systems for contortionist and stunt woman training.
  • Core muscle strength goes a long way in bondage.
  • Read your release contracts, and get a copy to take home. Make sure you agree with them, and that you are aware that once an image goes out with a release attached to it, you no longer control it. It can end up anywhere, even if the release says anywhere. Why? Because people steal images online all the time and cross-post them without permission.
  • Even if no release happens (such as amateur images posted on Fetlife or other fun places), this can happen too. Even if it’s just for private enjoyment, images exist in the world. Think twice before taking kink images, explicit images, sexual encounter images, and taboo or illegal images. Everyone will draw their own line. But those images can come back to you 50 years later.
  • Lint is the nemesis of clothing. Bring a lint remover brush and wipe down your clothes pre-binding, and if using fresh jute or hemp, before taking pictures. Jute lint shows in pictures. This applies to the lint on rigger’s clothes, and lint on the ground or on the backdrop.
  • Latex loves lint. Be aware, and choose your rope accordingly/ warn your riggers accordingly.
  • Big earrings only work when your head is up. They can block the face or flip upside down in other positions. Be aware of how it lays.corsetg034
  • If wearing makeup, look at it between each set.
  • Sweat. Blotters, even if a clean bandanna, go a long way.
  • Dry skin. Lotion, but not too much, goes a long way. This applies not just to faces, but to elbows, knees, ankles, and bottoms of the feet.
  • Clean your feet off. Baby wipes are a cool tool, as can just that clean piece of fabric to knock off the dust from ropes and the floor.
  • Try images with eyes open looking at camera, eyes open looking down, looking down to the side, and looking up to the side… as well as eyes closed loosely and tightly. They each look different on each person. Practice with selfies 🙂
  • Try looking at light, with light to left side of face, light to right side of face, and with hair covering face to cast a shadow. All do different effects in an image.
  • Try big smile, soft smile, soft frown, mouth open smile (big and small), mouth open neutral, lower lip bite (each side), upper lip bite, lips pulled in bite, tongue out on upper lip with mouth closed, with mouth open, and in general play with your face doing selfies.
  • With cheek down on the ground, some people look best with face pushed into ground while others look best barely touching ground or with head 1 cm off ground.
  • Try doing pics during a shoot with all 3 when learning your own face.MouseMolest
  • Hair styles – Different ones create different looks. High ponytail, low ponytail, braids, pigtails (low and high). Dark or nearly invisible hairbands look very different than scrunchies or colored ponytail holders.
  • Glittery clothes catches lighting. Ask photographers if this item will look good under the lighting they are doing.
  • Have fun playing between shoots. If the only play you get ends up being during shoots, it can lead to burnout for some folks.
  • Get your needs met. What feels like fair energetic exchange to you.
  • If it feels bad emotionally, don’t do it.
  • Make sure you vet a photographer if going to work with them solo and you don’t know them. You’re trusting to be bound by them and some people take advantage. Being bound does not equal consent, and is still sexual molestation or rape if that happens. Protecting others by not allowing their behavior to continue is appreciated and appropriate.
  • Your body is your tool. Watch out for it and care for it during shoots and after as if you were maintaining any other tool. You don’t run a car until it is out of gas, and you take it in when the warning lights flash, and so it should be for a model.
  • Enjoy the ride. If you stop enjoying the ride, be honest about it before resentment sets in.
  • lowlit001If you need to keep modeling during those windows, find ways to reduce resentment and have fun or satisfaction during shoots, as well as before and after them.
  • Spend time connecting with your body and feeling it, rather than dissociating and not noticing what hurts. Its a useful tool sometimes, but can also cause harm.
  • Play, enjoy, have a great time.
  • Try new things, but enjoy those you know are great.

These ideas are in no specific order. Other people likely have additional ideas… and maybe this is a place to start if others want to share their ideas too!  If you want to add other ideas, feel free to let me know.

Lots of love from the world of modeling,



Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.

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