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Photographing the Ritual of Outdoor Suspension

For over a decade I've been mesmerized by shibari, the Japanese art of rope bondage. With its intricate patterns and sensual aesthetic, shibari has been something intwined into my life. As I delved deeper into my own shibari journey, I found myself on a quest to capture the essence of this art form through the lens of photography on a deeper level. This photo series tells a story of this captivating outdoor suspension photoshoot, highlighting not just the finished art but the entire ritualistic process and connection between participants .

I teamed up with an extraordinary artist named Blue, whose expertise in rope tying is nothing short of remarkable. I had gone to a rope immersion a few weeks before and I had been seeking out someone who was knowledgable and safe. Blue bought us to a secret trail that perfectly aligned with my request for a suspension over water. I have been draw to the water element and the secluded babbling stream fed our senses.

The heart of this photoshoot was the collaboration between two incredible individuals: the model, Alina, and the rope artist, Blue. Their trust and communication provided a safe environment for art to be birthed.

Throughout the tie, I felt like a silent observer of an intimate dance between Alina and Blue. The ritualistic nature of the tie – the unfurling of rope, the precise and deliberate movements, and the communication between the two humans in front of me. I was privileged to capture the raw, unfiltered moments that unfolded during the first hour of rope tying. Many times when I see this art, I see the full suspension image - that is all. Setting the tone for what was to come and the build up of excitement and planning was a full circle for this story.

As Blue expertly tied Alina's chest harness and secured her leg, they planned their rise from the ground to between two trees over the stream. With my assistance, Alina hopped over to the first anchor point – a sturdy tree. The transition from earth to air was powerful and breathtaking to behold. As Alina was suspended in mid-air, her body beautifully intertwined with the ropes, the story was at the peak.

The suspension was not without its challenges, with a lot of the pressure on the models leg. Alina's skill and mindfulness was a parent as she leaned into the hang, defying gravity. Fifteen minutes felt like an eternity as Alina pushed her limits, embracing the physical and emotional intensity of the experience. Blue's support and encouragement were crucial, reminding Alina of her boundaries and doing check ins.

Alina reached her edge – a point where the physical demands of the suspension met the depths of her emotional journey. With Blue's guidance and control of the ropes, Alina transitioned into a back arch and leg hang. Amid the mental struggle and pain, there was a sense of serenity as Blue assured her that she was doing amazing. As Alina was gently lowered into the cool embrace of the water below, a sigh of relief and pure bliss washed over her face.

The conclusion of the suspension marked the beginning of the aftercare phase – a crucial aspect that emphasizes the emotional and physical well-being of the model. The gentle removal of ropes and the ensuing conversation were intimate moments and filled with high excited. Even the tree bore witness to this intimate interaction, adorned with "rope kiss".

As we made our way back to the car, a sudden rain shower caught us. It was as if nature itself was opening up with bliss from our collaboration. As the rain fell from the sky, we found ourselves immersed in the beauty that can be woven through the careful interchange of ropes, emotions, and mother nature.

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