Erotic photography | Interview with Fabrice de Bray
Couple of Secrets interviews Fabrice de Bray on erotic photography
Fabrice de Bray presents his views on the meaning of art, beauty standards and the difference between erotic photography and pornography. He talks to Couple of Secrets about his everyday professional life and gives us crucial tips about how to prepare for the perfect erotic photoshoot!
Presenting Fabrice de Bray
Art always conjures strong feelings for Xander and me. The human body as an object of beauty is at the heart of Couple of Secrets. Xander is passionate about taking pictures and I have always been fascinated by erotic photography. We like taking pictures of ourselves during sex and we have our own professional albums to boast about. Getting attracted to Fabrice de Bray’s pictures on social media was just a question of time. His work embodies the very essence of art: inspiration, sensitivity and originality.
The first thing to strike us about Fabrice was his polite nature and the simple way he interacts with people around him. Fabrice is easy-going and pleasant to communicate with. Is it the fact that he is self-trained that makes him so levelheaded? Or is it the years he has spent as a street photographer that made him observant to the details that matter? What kind of free spirit does it take to describe your life in Paris as “comfortable and boring”? We wish we could say we approached Fabrice because of these remarkable qualities. The truth is, though, that what caught our attention were simply his pictures.
Quality erotic photography is not so common. Many might attempt it, but it takes a particular mix of technical expertise, passion and audacity to take a picture that is neither ostentatious nor vulgar. It’s a fine line. We will let you decide for yourself on his oeuvre. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Our interview with Fabrice de Bray
On art, individuality and professional standards
CoS: What is the difference between erotic photography and pornography? Do you feel that people (and businesses) tend to mix these up?
FdB: There is a lot of confusion around this, and I understand it. Model Mayhem recently banned me because they considered my work as pornographic. It’s sad. For some people, sexual intercourse -an erect penis, semen, fellatio, cyprine (vaginal fluids) digital or oral play- is pornography and should not be shown in pictures. Why though? These things are only part of human sexuality, of who we are. Presenting sexuality in an artistic way -which is my aim- is the very definition of eroticism. It’s simple.
The way I see it, the sole purpose of pornography is to excite the senses by portraying sexual intercourse, without any artistic approach. Don’t read me wrong -I do love pornography. I believe though that you can depict a blowjob artistically, without becoming pornographic.
In the end, the real question is: what is art, and what is not? There is no consensus on that: not everybody perceives the same thing. To take it a step further, is art permitted to arouse people? If yes, then pornography should be considered as a shade of eroticism, shouldn’t it?
There is room for discussion here, and there is beauty in that. Unfortunately, some people prefer to point fingers with outdated certitudes.
CoS: Tricky question: have you ever been tempted to become involved with any of your models? It must be so exciting to see beautiful naked women while you are shooting them!
FdB: Well, eroticism derives from sexuality, and along with sexuality come desire and fantasies. My photos are also a representation of my own fantasies, of what I consider beautiful and attractive. It would be dishonest to claim that I’ve never felt any physical attraction for the models I am working with. It was confusing and a little disturbing at first, but I quickly managed to put it aside and create a creative bubble of sorts.
My wife and I are members of the lifestyle community of Montreal. That, along with my experience as an erotic photographer, has helped me grow accustomed to nudity and sexuality. I am not saying that I am never aroused in any way, just that I am used to it and I can handle it. My focus is always on the shooting, and that makes a big difference in terms of quality and professionalism.
“He was willing to share his knowledge because he believes artists have a moral duty to pass the torch.”
On his mentor, Viktor Tatran
FdB: So far, I have had total freedom in my photos. That’s so cool. The constraints are minimal; I like this a lot. It is vital to keep a margin for my creativity. If you ask me to work on a project that does not truly inspire me, I won’t manage: I need to maintain a certain standard of quality.
Before starting in photography I worked in a corporate environment. I had gotten sick and tired of all boundaries, rules, fake commitments, of the bosses, the pointless tasks, the waste of life, even though the pay was good. I am not willing to sacrifice my freedom and my time again.
CoS: How do you choose your models? What are your favourite shots? And why?
FdB: Facial expression is the most important element. Then there is the factor of experience. I examine the portfolios and I sometimes ask the advice of other photographers. Attitude and professionalism matter too. At the next level, it all depends on the concept I have in mind. I prefer natural bodies without many tattoos and with minimal alterations or plastic surgeries. I do remain flexible though; I believe there is beauty in everything. The best-case scenario is working with a creative mind like Lexi Sylver. This combination always yields excellent results.
CoS: At Couple of Secrets we prefer B&W. We feel that it renders better the erotic aspect and brings out the natural beauty of the human body. What’s your take on that?
FdB: I definitely agree. B&W is my favourite rendering for many reasons. First of all, it represents the essence of photography. It all started with B&W and it is good to see that after years and years it is still relevant, it’s timeless. It gives an extra layer to the photos, it gives them soul. Contrasts are more important and, as you’ve rightly put it, it renders better the natural beauty of the human body. And to finish, B&W gives a more dramatic aspect to the photos; I just love that.
That said -though some people will disagree- it’s also possible to achieve the same results in colour. I recently came across some incredible pieces of work. The photographer had handled lighting, colour harmony and composition so perfectly that I realized how much I still have to learn. I sometimes feel that I am still only scratching the surface of what it is possible. It excites me to think that perhaps in 10 years I will look back at my work of today with a little smile.
“The sole purpose of pornography is to excite the senses by portraying sexual intercourse, without any artistic approach.”
On the difference between erotic photography and pornography
On Social Media and other demons
We then turned to an -alas- all too familiar issue for Couple of Secrets and for anybody in the erotic business: social media puritanism.
CoS: Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and, more recently, Patreon have adopted a rather puritan approach and tend to delete racy artistic content. What’s your opinion about that?
FdB: It’s a shame and extremely worrying. Some people claim Facebook is free so we should just comply with their rules. I completely disagree. Would we say that we should not complain about the laws of some countries? There is, for example, a consensus about censorship in China or North Korea and its negative repercussions on human rights. It is fair to fight for what’s right.
2 billion users worldwide use Facebook. FB requests a copy of our ID’s, makes us divulge our real names and forces us to comply with a very conservative US censorship. If you make a mistake, you are punished, with no means to defend yourself. Everything is controlled by AI that detects (sometimes wrongly, I got banned twice for nothing) nudity and applies sanctions automatically. Don’t even get me started on their paranoia regarding female nipples. What the hell is that medieval thinking? Where is common sense?
So, with its censorship, FB influences the lives of a quarter of the world’s population. How can one not be concerned about this? What an alarming vision of society! I am starting to invest more time in other uncensored networks such as Twitter, VK and Fetlife. Instagram, although the property of Facebook, is more tolerant for the time being. However, the shadow-ban system it applies allows them to shut you down at any moment, so I am not counting on it either. I am relying more and more on the old fashioned word of mouth -it seems to be working better for me.
CoS: Are you open about what you do? Do you feel there a stigma around erotic photography?
FdB: There is judgement, of course, but I find it irrelevant. Some find my work vulgar, disrespectful or sexist. Most of my photos include nude female bodies following specific beauty standards. These might make other women feel uncomfortable with their bodies. The other comment I often get is about the objectification and sexualization of women. I wish I had more beautiful male bodies to show to balance this out. That’s a factor I struggle with every time I publish a photo.
That said, I also like to remind people that beauty standards and preferences are not something new. They have existed all along human history and every beauty standard has caused uncomfortable feelings to some people. That’s the negative aspect of every standard. Take a look at greek or roman sculptures or neoclassic paintings… No fat, muscular, hairless… exactly like today. The Renaissance, however, favoured curvier bodies.
“Could we accept art arousing people?”
On pushing the limits of art
On the level of eroticism and sexuality, things have also evolved. From artistic nude paintings or sculptures to the representation of roman orgies, there were moments in history were eroticism was not perceived the same way.
In the end, I am not asking myself too many questions. I just go with the flow. It’s important to have these discussions but it’s not likely to make me feel ashamed of my work.
I accept what I do, I enjoy it and I do it the best way I can. I have explained what I do to my family and my friends. Not everyone is thrilled but they all accept it. And if anyone doesn’t, so be it: after all, art is much larger than what few people think.
“Working with a creative mind, like Lexi Sylver, always yields excellent results.”
What FdB looks for in his models
What to expect during an erotic photoshoot and tips on how to prepare for it
CoS: What advice would you give to couples who are interested in erotic photography sessions? How should one prepare for it? (makeup, clothes, lingerie etc)
FdB: It is important to think in advance about your limits, about what you want to portray. An erotic photoshoot is not as easy as posing for a 30-minute portrait session. It requires a lot of courage indeed, and the connection with your partner and the photographer are important. Communication is essential. What are your limits? What do you feel ready to expose? What mood do you wish to create, in which environment? Sometimes it’s easier to have a session in the comfort of your own bedroom or the luxury of a beautiful hotel suite. Spend some time on the phone with the photographer, explore the mood, ask him or her for recommendations if you need to. If you don’t feel it, don’t force yourself.
A session with swingers is obviously easier for me. People from the Lifestyle are usually less reticent when it comes to losing their clothes in the presence of others. Moreover, I also participate in the Lifestyle, so they know well that there is no judgement from my side.
Another important factor is your budget. Do you wish to have special makeup or to do it yourself? What about accessories or special lingerie? Would you like fetish outfits or even sex toys? Explain these things to your photographer in advance.
In the end, for an authentic result, you need to feel sexy and comfortable. It all requires some preparation.
To summarize, a good erotic photoshoot should be properly prepared so as not to look cheap. Your photographer should be properly involved and you should feel excited about your session. If not, the result might not be worth the trouble.
CoS: What’s your advice to help people with no experience -or talent- for posing to relax and enjoy their session?
FdB: The secret is to feel comfortable. There, the photographer has an important role to play, to make you feel at ease during the shooting. She or he will tell you what to do, where to look, how to position yourself. You should trust your photographer, so don’t hesitate to ask for references from models and couples who have worked with him/her beforehand. If it’s your first photoshoot, consider taking a good friend with you, somebody you are at ease with. Avoid at all cost jealous partners, who risk making everything awkward; the result would be horrible. If you cannot relax, it will show on the photos, trust me!
Sleep well before the shooting, don’t come with tired eyes or famished. The photographer is in charge of your well-being but you have to take care of your self too. Don’t hesitate to tell him/her if you feel uncomfortable or if you need a break.
“If you don’t feel it, don’t force yourself.”
How to prepare the perfect photoshoot
CoS: Are you often faced with awkward situations during photo shoots? Give us an example!
FdB: I try to create a comfortable environment where people feel free to joke and laugh. Funny or goofy moments are bound to come up during the shootings.
The weirdest incident so far was on the first day I was assisting for my very first nude photoshoot. I was behind the model, holding long strips of cloth hanging from the ceiling and enveloping her. The setup was beautiful. The model was standing on a podium, in the corner of the studio. I was trying to hide between her and the wall. By the end of the shooting she was entirely naked and at some point, I found myself with her buttock at 15 cm from my face! I was struggling to stay focused and not move so as not to show in the photo. It was such a weird and embarrassing moment for me! The lady, however, a former stripper, was not disturbed at all by the setup! She even teased me afterwards when I admitted to my nervousness.
We would like to hear about your journey towards sexual discovery. You can either comment on this post or send us an email.
Photo credit: Fabrice de Bray, Indiscreet Arts