Through the Lens with Matt Spike
Photography is a medium in which people have full creative freedom. The manipulation of light, the representation of emotion and the creation of identity. All done through the simple flicker of a camera lens.
We sat down with fetish photography maestro, Matt Spike, to find out exactly what he sees through his lens.
Firstly Matt, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. I know Pride Month is one of the busiest times for you. So we really appreciate it. I guess the best place to start, is what inspired you to start photography in the first place?
It happened at an early age really. Both my grandmothers were photographers – my maternal grandmother was a professional photo retoucher, and my paternal grandmother was an amateur photographer. They were both really passionate about photography as an art form. So, I guess it’s in the blood!
And how did this innate passion, develop into the fetish photography that you are known for today?
Well, I was known on the fetish scene anyway as an escort and from some solo movies that I did on XTube – alongside some more PG leather and smoking videos on YouTube. I always found it funny how my friends in bands, never seemed to get the same views I did. I suppose I must have been doing something right!
My big break into fetish photography though happened with an ad on a sex app. The ad on my profile simply said I was available for photo shoots. Within a year, the images were all over Recon, and I was starting to be seen as a specialist portrait photographer for social media.
This reputation continued to develop, and led to me shooting the 2nd Fetish Week flyers for Recon. That opportunity really got the ball rolling – suddenly I was being published everywhere. There’s even a DVD poster still in The Backstreet Bar in East London, from a porn shoot I was hired to do last minute.
From this exposure, I really fell into my own shooting style and things just kept developing from there. Soon, I was international, shooting porn stars in the US!
Doesn’t sound a bad job really! Speaking of your shooting style. What would you say are the foundations of a Matt Spike portrait?
Well, a lot of what I’m into fetish-wise goes into my work. My biggest fetish passion is leather, and my past work as an escort has definitely given me a lot of scene inspiration. The lighting is usually dark and shadowy. Very much a hard light approach. I really try to recreate the atmosphere of sex clubs. A dark cruising vibe, with low lighting. You’ll find that aesthetic, at the heart of most of my images.
Would you say, that this aesthetic helps drive the creation of identity in your portraits?
I think the overall aesthetic of the image, along with the fetish gear itself drives the identity created in my work. Fetish gear is transformative. It is a way of escaping the social norms of society. You look recognisable but you are creating a persona away from your true self. Coupled with the dark aesthetic of my shooting style, I believe my clients enter a journey of self-discovery. I help them form a new identity through the imagery. Whether that is a representation of their true selves or what they would like to embody – it really depends on the client.
Is this journey of self-discovery completely client driven?
Well, usually I style the client, although sometimes they have their own ideas of what they want to get from the shoot. I try to push them out of their comfort zones and push their limits. My name itself is a pseudonym from my escort work, and I draw on these experiences to help my clients explore and create their own persona.
And what does the process involve?
A lot of things go into it. The style and lighting we talked about previously, along with verbal and physical prompts. I try to make my clients comfortable in their own skin, while pushing their boundaries. To express themselves without fear of ‘the norm’. By doing this, they really begin to open up and show emotion. They create the identity through expression, discovering a part of themselves in the process.
Would you say, that this is something common in all photography or just in the fetish community?
I don’t think it’s something explicit to the fetish community. Photography gives people the chance to escape their everyday lives. Regardless of the type of shoot. It is a form of cathartic release. The creation of new identity and self-discovery leads to an increase in self-confidence for those involved. Many of my clients, tell me how they leave my shoots with a new sense of confidence and a few even tell me about how much sex, they’ve gotten from the portraits. So I think it’s definitely a positive process!
Essentially the shoot gives your clients a way of self-expression. It definitely sounds therapeutic and
not just because of the increased sex life! Would you recommend more people do photoshoots then, as a medium of self-discovery?
Completely! If there’s something you particularly want to gain from a shoot, express this with your photographer beforehand. The import thing to take from an experience like this though is to be proud and love yourself! Feel great in your skin and let the lens capture that sense of euphoria. It’s not just a creative process after all, it is a very emotional one.
I think it definitely sounds beneficial. Taking some time out for yourself, to just express your emotions
and not fear, what society expects of you. Really looking forward to our shoot now! Stay tuned for
that guys and Matt, thank you again for taking the time to sit down and talk to us!
If you’d like to see more of Matt’s work or contact him for your own shoot, check
out his Instagram. We promise you won’t regret it!