I’ve been looking at photos of the scenes that W and I do. He’s a photography slut, it’s as much a part of his kink to photograph what happens between us as is the desire to push boundaries. He takes his pictures in the heat of our scenes, and often captures moments of raw emotion and vulnerability, although no matter how intense the pictures are, they can only hint at the true intensity of what we do.
There is a part of me that feels very exposed by photographs, but not in the obvious way, the way of “Hey, look here, there’s a picture of a girl doing nasty things.” It’s more an emotional exposure, an exposure inherent in both the act of being photographed and in the viewing of the pictures afterward.
I feel raw when I look at the pictures of some of our scenes. Raw and laid bare in a way that cuts as deep as the experience itself in some ways. I have a very visceral reaction to my own photos, a reaction that excited and troubled me in equal measure the first time I looked at the pictures of our first scene. It both personalized the experience and depersonalized it. Made it both about me and not, like watching something happen to someone else, and yet that someone else was me, looking like that, feeling those things.
Looking at the pictures I don’t exactly relive those feelings again…I do something else. I relive them from once removed. I relive them as a story, as something I am no longer intimate with. It is as though what is in the pictures is completely divorced from me, the me that is here, now, looking at them.
Sometimes it is as though an entirely different story is being told. It is like when I look at this series of pictures we call “after,” the scene upstairs after our first scene in the basement, and I see this emotionally quiescent woman, this depleted, exhausted thing, and I don’t even know her. I don’t remember being that girl. Yeah, subspace made me hazy and drifty, but it is more than that. It is like, looking at her, I am looking outside myself, seeing myself as a different being entirely. It’s a frightening perspective, and why it was so deeply disquieting the first time I saw my pictures. I put them away and couldn’t look at them for days, didn’t want to talk about them. How could that be me?
Some part of me denies that it is. I am me, the one who is sitting here now, analyzing this stuff, thinking about all this, not that…that body part; that woman allowing herself to be used that way; that quiet docile woman; that woman in pain; that woman in ecstasy.
I look at what I call the “hand pictures.” His hand, his fingers, pulling, pinching, mauling my breasts in close-up, no body, no face connected to them. Utterly impersonal, and yet achingly intimate. Intimate because looking at the pictures I can feel his hands on me; I see the pictures and feel him again. And yet because you can’t see anything but a body part you are left with no connection to the human beings there. It is just a disembodied hand, pulling and pinching, squeezing a tit, a body part, an object. I am only that, just a body for his use, to be poked and prodded and molded, exploited by his pictures.
It is interesting in that when I was being photographed in that first scene that is not exactly what I felt; what I felt then was simply acute self-consciousness and embarrassment; it was not until later, looking at the photos, that I saw the objectification. But then once having recognized it, that feeling repeats itself when he photographs me now; I can’t escape it. So in that way the pictures have not merely recorded history, but also influenced the present.
And yet there is another part. In seemingly direct opposition to this feeling of disconnect and removal, the pictures also pull me into the story, make me relive the feelings I had, make me feel viscerally what I can only remember in words and images in my head otherwise. And part of what I see in those pictures are the moments not captured. The woman that is zinging with pleasure, that is moaning, thrusting, reaching, begging for his hands on her, his fingers in her, his mouth on hers. He does this thing, where he breathes into me when I am feeling at the end of my tether, he breathes into me and makes me okay. It is the most intensely sexual and sexy and sensual feeling, his mouth on my lips around the gag, the taste of his breath, the feel of his mouth around mine, as though devouring me, and by devouring me he is also feeding me. Or the moments when, after he has hurt me, he stands so close to me, his breath on my neck, his body molded to mine, and wraps his arms around me, holding me together, breathing with me, protecting me, letting me know I am safe and cared for.
Those are the moments you don’t get to see in the photos, and it is their very omission that makes me recall them, like a Rorschach inkblot—the story is in the omissions as well as in the inclusions. And perhaps it is to reconcile those omissions and inclusions, to make the story whole, that I return again and again to look at the photos, and have come to appreciate them in a way I never would have guessed I could, before I started all this.