Thanks for visiting my photoblog, my name is Mark Varley, I grew up and live in England, I've always had a love and enthusiasm for art, during my time at school I tried every artistic medium I could, but I had a big problem, I was terrible at all of them. Then a revalation happened with the aid of my very keen new art teacher when I was around 14, she descovered the school had an old dark-room, so she send me off with a roll of B&W 35mm film in my old cheap plastic compact camera and I just wandered around the countryside near my home taking photos of anything that looked interesting, unlike my later work which includes landscapes punctuated with naked women, much to my frustration at the time (I'm sure) there was a distinct absence of boobs, but I did seem to have an eye for composition and I did a great deal of photography over the following two years or so. I had found an artistic medium that worked for me, I appeared to have some natural talent with a camera in my hand, unlike the mess I made with oil paints and batiks and clay sculpture etc etc etc.
After school photography became a hobby, with my limited free time I'd usually have a camera with me during the time I spent out in the coutryside in some of the more remote areas of the UK.
Around 2002 I had a significant career-shift which left more time for my hobby which I started exploring deeper, around the same time I was seriously considering studying computing and forming a new career from there.
I had become a fan of artistic nude photography a few years previously, always an admirer convinced such beauty was beyond my humble abilities, until some friends pursuaded me to try it, nothing to lose and all that, so in 2004 I worked with my first model in some bluebell woods close to my home, I loved the beauty of it, the contrast that somehow blended, it spoke to me in ways I really can't put into words, but I was still unsure of my ability, however I framed a few photos form that day and a local gallery accepted them for a very prominant display (several right in their window), within a couple of days the first one had sold, it had caught the eye of a gentleman walking past and he just had to have it, the first photo I uploaded to my photoblog was that same first photo to sell - http://markvarley.shutterchance.com/image/2007/09/09/
That was a huge boost to me, I felt at home photographing the nude form and feedback indicated I was good at it, possibly very good, a couple of years before I had purchased a book of 'erotica' which contrary to it's title was artistic nudes, fine-art nudes and figure nudes, photographs of current and recent photographers in those genres, some of the best around, initially I admired this work and I set myself the goal of equalling it. While it's a matter of opinion and artistic quality is subjective, I felt I not only equalled much of the work within a year or two, but I felt in artistic quality I had surpassed much of the work within, I don't think that was a delusional perspective.
Since that first nudes shoot I have very rarely photographed anything else, I started with artistic nudes and quickly also incorporated fine-art nudes and figure nudes, those became my main work, motivated for the pure love of creating beautiful photographs.
With all of this talk of the artistic nudes it may seem odd that I am best known as a bondage photographer, how did that happen? read-on..
My interest in rope bondage, bondage generally, began at the age of just 15 (probably even earlier, but I became 'active' at 15), initially it was purely sexually motivated and crudely functional. When I was 18 I acquired a japanese magazine filled with shibari, and I was immediatly hooked, the beauty of it mainly captured my imagination, I began finding out everything I could from anyone I could find to learn how to create such beautiful things with only a piece of rope on a body, it was much harder to find information pre-internet but by 2005 when I first brought my interest in bondage out of the bedroom and into the studio, I was already profecient enough to be teaching others.
Initially I started using very simple bondage and sometimes just rope, as a variation in texture and lines in my artistic nude photography, within a year I had started photographing bondage-proper and in 2006 I published my first book 'Beautiful Bondage, the art of rope bondage', whcih was a mixture of a how-to and artistic photography, while it was very popular at the time I feel it failed in both areas, most of the bondage how-to books I own are much better at that and my subsequent bondage photography books are also far better at that area, but for a first book it wasn't bad.
This along with the photos I was sharing with the world helped me become well known as a bondage photographer, something I initially embraced and then disliked, I was very happy that people loved my work, but I never thought of myself as a bondage photographer, my main love photographically was and still is Artistic Nudes, Figure Nudes, and Fine Art Nudes.
However after a few years I softened to the idea and more fully accepted that I couldn't choose what I was best known for, I can just put my best work out there and people would form their own opinions.
My bondage photography definately has a style, based on my preferred approach to tying, I like my ropework to be functional, it's bondage to the model has to really be tied, restrained, functional bondage, but there is no reason it can't also be beautiful, hence my bondage brand 'BeautifulBondage'(.net)
I have a policy of continued exploration and development, I am quite strongly of the opinion that I should not stagnate, in my photography I am always trying new things, when I encounter somethign I am good at, I explore it fully and add it to the genres I cover, that's how I transitioned from landscapes and wildlife to nudes, then to bondage, most recently I have been exploring Erotica, a genre I always shied away from for fear of being considered a pornographer, something which I'd find upsetting considering my artistic motivations and intentions, for years there had been no sign of genitalia in any photos, careful posing and lighting took care of that, but firstly I felt that was often restrictive and secondly I wanted to try it, so for my Erotica project I decided to go all-the-way and photograph solo men and women as well as couples (m/f, f/f, m/m) engaging in intimate sexual activity which I photographed in a way that appealed to be aesthetically, artistically, if I can photograph that and produce artistic results then I need never shy away from a glimpse of labia in an art-nude again. Of course the opinion of my success will vary between people, one factor that made me more willing to try is that some people already considered my work erotic, so I realised that just the sight of a naked breast was very erotic to some people, so there really isn't such a clear line between what I was doing and Erotica anyway.
My photography today is now split between my own artistic projects, usually published as books with many photos for sale individually and viewable online for free, covering the genres of Artistic Nude, Fine-Art Nude, Figure Nude, Erotica, Rope Bondage, BDSM and occasionally general Fetish. As well as working on specific projects I am also often hired by people who have seen my work and want photos like that of themselves, usually very very few people ever see those photos yet they are the most rewarding work for me because they are so incredibly valuable to the client.
As well as tying bondage for my own photography I also tie for other photographers, hardly anyone was photographing rope bondage when I first started doing it but now it's much more popular and common, I tie for everything from high-fashion to artistic to bondage-porn, always interesting jobs. I also teach bondage still, both to the public learning for private use and to photographers exploring the visual art of it.
Main camera: Nikon Df.
Main lens: Sigma 24-70mm f2.8
Photoshop CS6 for editing on a custom PC.
Ropes & Bondage Equipment form my own store, BeautifulBondage.net
All images copyright © Mark Varley All Rights Reserved.
Most photographs available for use either commercially or editorially, no use of any image in any capacity without permission. Please email me if you would like to purchase a print of any of my photographs. Commercial licensing available on some images.
Steal my images or imply they are yours and I will hunt you down, immerse your camera in salt water, burn down your house, gouge out your eyes and eat your dog. Have a nice day!