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Bondage and beauty (2020)

You can listen to this musing here, or read it below.

I realize that my musing from last week as a bit of click-bait when I called it “how to take good bondage pictures” but wrote a thousand words on the intimate meeting of hearts. I will not promise that this week will be any better when the theme is bondage and beauty – or why beauty is so essential to me.

First and foremost, let me state something that might be controversial clearly, that I really think that bondage and beauty should be closely connected. Holding this belief is problematic with today’s hyper-focus on physical appearance and the mental illnesses it causes. I believe that broadening and deepening one’s relationship to beautiful is the best way forward, and that is what I want to talk about in this text.

For me, beautiful and gratitude is deeply connected. I experience this when I get the chance to pause for a movement and marvel in the grandness of life. It brings me presence, and the longer that I can stay present, the more details are revealed to my awareness. Therefore in my bondage, I believe that the more I can perfect details by seeing them, the more beautiful my results will be. The connection to presence is essential because a specific knot is only pleasing when it is in the “right” movement – that is transient, elusive, and ever-changing. Therefore there is no pattern to beauty, and there is no beauty in patterns. Instead, the key is to practice presence and perfection. And I know it is “right” when I feel gratitude.

I first got in contact with these ideas when studying photography. I could spend hours in a gallery analyzing the golden ratio and Fibonacci patterns of every picture. But in the viewfinder of my camera, I always failed. Because once my brain was done calculating, the movement had already passed, and I was longer present. So I changed my strategy, to instead look for presence and gratitude inside myself when walking through the gallery. Later on, when looking through my camera, I simply had to recognize the feeling and take the picture. In more engineering terms, I would explain it as building intuition, and accessing that intuition through the sense of gratitude. To bring this attitude into my rope bondage, I must allow myself to perfect details dynamically.

What details do I see?

Well, it is ever-changing, but I tend to get hung up on a particular kind for a while, and then I move on. To give a tip, start to look at where the rope starts, and where it ends – so the knots and the tie-offs are neat and consistent. And next, you can look at visual balance and proportions, in the relationship between body and rope. For example, tying a weighty body part with few or thin ropes makes it non-proportional, and the same applies for suspending a lighter weight with a massive suspension line. Then there are thousands and thousands of details to discover. But more importantly, I want to talk about is how the perceived beautiful interact with the bound person.


The ropes are the defining aesthetic element; in the same way that clothes are central in fashion, personality in a portrait, and so on. The bondage should guide the attention of the viewer and the focus of the scene. I believe it should express the emotional state of the bound person. In my experience, it is a bi-directional interaction, as the ropes shape the emotions, that then develops the bondage.

My approach to this that I want my partner to feel unique, by knowing that I see every little detail. Of the tie, of their body, and their emotional state. I want them to trust me, to shape a beautiful scene where the bondage expands beyond our individual experiences. And I think it helps to relax performance anxiety. Establishing a consensual power dynamic helps to encourage one to surrender their self-image, as I describe in the text What do you surrender. In the end, someone that feels attractive also becomes so in the eye of the beholder. And when we are seen as beautiful, we also feel attractive. Again, the bi-directional interaction, and this is why taking time and distance to see my partner is so important.

I also want my bondage to be other-worldly; therefore, I create positions distorts how a body is generally perceived. Hanging twisted and contorted in ropes, and not knowing where the body starts and ends—moving the bondage towards something extraordinary impacts the emotional experience of the person bound. I often look for a sense of suspended urgency because it makes me feel awe and gratitude for the uniqueness of the situation. Therefore the body should be contorted the limit and the ropes just on the edge of too tight. The person in the bondage will feel it, and the person tying will empathically share that moment. I think that is why bondage photography is so fascinating because it freezes a unique movement forever in time.


I want to witness my work, either through the viewfinder of my camera or by simply being there. When tying, I probably spend half my time observing. That allows me to decide what the next step is conscious and to execute it with grace. Sometimes when I teach, I say “There is no going back, and there is no goal. There is only the constant adaptation of the present moment.”. Of course, sometimes I fail, and therefore I have to go back. I want my partner to feel that I enjoy them and the beauty we create. Because it has to be beautiful, I always come back to that—beauty, presence, and gratitude.

Finally, I want to end with paradox, because bondage is paradoxical and that makes it interesting. I also want to challenge my partner, both physically and emotionally. A classic example is tying the tongue to make them drool, or making a painful tie, so the suffering shows in their face. On one level, this serves as a contrast to graceful perfection, making it more human. There is a philosophical idea that humankind exists in–between the ideals of gods and the hedonism of animals. On another level, I find my partner most beautiful when showing their strength to face the challenge. Ultimately, I want them to win, but not by force or fighting, but by surrendering and vulnerability. Because, in a way, suffering exists only in wishing things to be different than they actually are.