Beautiful Pling is barefoot in bondage at the water's edge, hands locked behind her in cruel steel handcuffs!
Hywel's note: as part of RestrainedElegance.com's 18th birthday party I'm releasing some never-before-seen sets from the early days!
This set dates back to 2008, to what I think most of us on the RE crew think of as the high point of the website in some ways- the Sweden
location trip. That sounds a bit defeatist and downbeat somehow, looking back in nostalgia, but it isn't really that. We've had some
brilliant shoots and comparably-excellent location trips many times over the years since. It is just that this was the biggest, most
ambitious and most luckily-successful trip we ever had, with the people who would form the core RE stalwarts for the next decade,
and we managed to avoid a whole bunch of potential pitfalls on the way. Including car crashes, delayed flights, the potential for awful weather
(where in fact we got a perfect week of sunshine and clear skies), nosy neighbours, falling-out-windows, a collapsing old house, Steve and
Merlin driving for almost 24 hours after the ferry to bring the cage to the location, Kobe Lee flying in across the Atlantic and dealing
with jet-lag, and many more adventures.
I guess at that point I was at my most happy-go-lucky. The website had been on a slowly-increasing trajectory for eight years, the
credit crunch was about to happen but hadn't really hit yet, tube sites and piracy hadn't really kicked in, and I didn't really know better.
This trip was by far the most expensive and ambitious one, and it is in that sense that it's the pinnacle: the sensible business case just isn't
there for doing such a high-risk, high-payoff location shoot again. We had Merlin, Steve, Svampen, Hywel and Kate on camera, Kate, Pling, Sophia Smith,
Kobe Lee and Ariel Anderssen in front of camera. With five girls and five(ish) photographers, we could split not just into two units but three or
four. Someone was always slipping out to shoot just one more set in the supernatural almost-midnight sun - we got golden four or five hours, not golden hour.
What I think now is oh my god we could so easily have got next to nothing from the trip. At the time, I could just about have afforded to lose the £16,000+ or so that the trip cost without getting any content (which could easily have happened- if we'd all got food poisoning on the first night, for example). If I did that now, I'd be looking for a bailout and I don't know that my business would survive. So I have to spread the risk with multiple £4,000 trips instead. Which is why we've never taken so many people so far for so long in one trip ever since. The trip was a magnificent folly which, thankfully, worked out amazingly!
It also marked the final end of the shoot-JPEG era. You can see from these shots that a few have some funky stuff going on in Pling's skin tones on the very bright highlights.
This is where the red channel has slightly clipped, because of the unusual lighting conditions (very low, very red sun) and us not dialling in quite enough underexposure to allow for it. RAW records more information, so there's a lot more chance of recovering in post - the red channel may not even have actually clipped on the sensor, it might have done so in the white balance step in making the JPEG. But the information isn't there to recover. After this trip, everything we shot for RE was in RAW.
So in one sense the Sweden trip also marks the change between me being a dedicated amateur who happens to have lucked into a business,
and me deciding to be a professional photographer selling bondage images for a living and necessarily approaching the thing from a slightly
different perspective. Truth be told it is a bit less fun, which is the final reason why we look back on the Sweden trip so fondly. But
it is the reason why we are still here a decade later, producing material of a higher technical quality and just as much bondage intensity and
integrity. A lot of the other "playful" producers went out of business in the aftermath of the credit crunch and I'm SO glad we made the necessary
changes to still be here- because on a good day, something like our recent North Wales location trip is every bit as inspiring and collaborative and
creative and productive and fun as the Sweden trip was. Just not quite as high stakes!
Bondage, handcuffs, outdoors, bikini, long hair, blonde, barefoot, metal bondage