In this issue of WINGS, we’ve had the pleasure of being able to work with the iconic fetish photographer RAF & WAY, a Berlin-based artist whose unique aesthetic in photos has made him a household name amongst kinksters around the world. As well as showcasing some of his best work, we were able to sit down with Raf for a chat about his work, his kinks, and his plans for the future.
How long have you worked as a photographer in the fetish scene?
To be honest, I don’t consider myself a fetish photographer. I hate labels. Labels end up conveying something absolute and it’s difficult to navigate away from it. Why do this to yourself and prevent growth in other areas? Although since 2016 most of my clients are – let’s label them – “fetishist(s)”, they work with me because I’m actually not a fetish photographer and because I have a different approach to this subject.
Did you do other kinds of photography before then? If so, what drew you into the fetish-related artwork that you succeed so well in today?
My background is in fashion but It’s not that I have moved completely towards fetish and I don’t do “normal” things anymore. I always go with the flow. It just happened by chance that I met two “fetish” clients on the same shoot and that was seven years ago. They are my key clients till now. If I had labelled myself by saying, “I’m not a fetish photographer,” I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Tell me about your own kinks.
I love challenges. If it comes too easy, it’s not worth having and I lose my interest. I’m fixated on not very bright, simple, straight men. To corrupt one is an ultimate pleasure. Same with top-only guys (as there’s no such thing) who tend to think rigidly and a little too heteronormatively. Labelling our identity on the basis of a sexual position feels limiting. As I mentioned before, I hate labels and confronting them is my biggest kink.
Would you say you’re inspired by the kinks of others?
Yes, a lot. It’s like visiting an exhibition with art you have never seen before. Entering the parallel world. It’s very refreshing and super exciting.
How did you find your current aesthetic, your style that makes you so unique?
Coming from a fashion background definitely had a huge impact on my work for “fetish” clients. It’s like a fetish but make it fashion. I take a picture to tell a story, to express my feelings, to show you what you cannot see, and make you feel things you weren’t feeling before. Besides, I’m an introvert so I use my lens to express and communicate with others, to tell the stories I’m not able to put into words.
What is it that you look for in taking a good kinky photo?
A story behind that photo. The desire behind the work is what makes it important. You can express yourself beautifully, but you must have something to say, otherwise, it’s just another photo of a rubber man in a dungeon.
What have been some of your favourite photo shoots or projects? And what have been your worst experiences?
Every single project is my favourite at the time. I put a lot of energy and passion into everything that I do. In a way, photography is my fetish too, therefore I feel fulfilled every day. Doing what you love makes you feel like you are not really working. It’s a powerful combination. My worst experiences are with straight clients but that doesn’t count! 😝
You must have exciting big plans in store for everyone in the future. Any news you can share with us?
One of the most exciting recent projects was working on Emre Busse’s new trilogy Godasses. This project puts the spotlight on the phenomenon of ‘ass’ in pornography. GodassesChapter I had its debut at the Porn Film Festival Vienna last year. Godasses Chapter II and III will premiere at Brussels Porn Film Festival (21-24 April) and the films will also be shown at Porn Film Festival Vienna (20-24 April) afterwards. Furthermore, there will be screening at Porn Film Festivals in Innsbruck.