You, dear reader, may have seen her pictures:
Or this one:
Or this one:
They look amazing, polished and artistic, don’t they? And if you have ever created your own images that are powerful, artsy and evocative, you know how much work, sweat and often pain, frustration and tears goes into making them. In the words of Anna Akhmatova,
I wish you knew the kind of garbage heap
Wild verses grow on, paying shame no heed,
Like dandelions yellowing a fence,
Like burdock and bindweed…
An angered yell, the bracing scent of tar,
And walls with runic mildew like a sign…
And soon a tender, testy poem answers
To your delight and mine.
(Translated from Russian by Poems In Translation)
Puppet is a perfectionist. For each image selected for public posting hundreds end up on the proverbial cutting floor. Sometimes none of the takes from a given session make the cut. It could be because none of them express her vision of what she wanted to achieve. Or it could be that she isn’t feeling attractive that day or that moment, and no picture would be good enough, not even if Annie Leibovitz herself took it.
She is a perfectionist by necessity. Two forces fight inside her: a strong exhibitionist need to show off, and extreme body image issues. And the way these two antitheses synthesize is expressed in her constant refrain
I must control the angles!
And so she does. Boy, does she ever! Only the perfect angle will do. This body part needs to be seen from a bit up. That one should not be seen at all, at least not today. The dress must be arranged just so. The rope… don’t even start me on that rope thing. Eventually she manages to figure it out. Mostly.
But sometimes she needs a bit of help. And I am happy to help her. Which creates a situation where she needs to be in control, giving instructions, but at the same time also hating being in control, submissive brat that she is, at least in a sexual or sexualized context. If you guessed that this might result in a bit of friction, and not necessarily of the good kind, congratulations! She gets pissy, alternating between trying new angles and freaking out about how her breasts look, or her weight, or her forearms, or… Well, every woman and many men have something about their body they dislike, and when her attention is on those parts, it leads to emotional landmines exploding left and right.
And guess who ends up within the blast area? Yep, yours truly. Does yours truly like being told that all his pictures suck, that he can’t listen to simple requests and that it’s time to stop this useless activity and give up on taking pictures forever and delete every social media profile? Not in the least. Yours truly enjoys nothing more than putting Puppet in her place, where she belongs. Even more so when her bratty side flares up and she tries to fight it. But getting her there requires a bit of a delicate balance. One can compare it with fishing. (Puppet’s quip would likely be “more like whaling than fishing”, because of the aforementioned body image issues.) Push her too little, and she doesn’t take the lure, push too hard, and the line can break, and off she goes deep into the bottomless dark ocean of despair, flashbacks and self-loathing.
Now, compound it by my personal triggers (yes, Doms have triggers, too, who knew!) where being told off makes me want to disengage and hide, which is not helpful in the least when handling someone as explosive yet delicate as Puppet. She gets all self-hating and self-blaming and alternates between hiding and fawning. Suicidality is not too far away. Not a pretty sight. Well, she is always a pretty sight, but I mean it metaphorically. So it falls on me to diffuse the dynamite stick with the fuse constantly ready to blow. Right, handling explosives is probably a better analogy than fishing. Or maybe controlling a nuclear reactor ready to go into meltdown. As you can guess, it doesn’t always work. When our triggers collide, a local Chernobyl results. Fortunately, she and I have a foundation that has so far been able to withstand an out of control nuclear reaction. Still, it can take a little while to pick up the pieces and rebuild what seemed forever destroyed in the explosion. Sex tends to be really helpful. Bodily fluids as emotional cement, huh. Sement! (I can imagine Puppet cringing with her whole body reading this.)
As I said, Puppet taking pictures and her sometimes hapless Dom helping her is one of those explosion-prone activities. But I do have a few tricks up my sleeveless shirt. Manipulation! It has a bad rap. It’s a dirty word, but it all depends on what it is used for, personal gain or helping someone. Well, it could be both. Puppet is a master of manipulation, no pun intended. So here and there I picked up a few things from her. What helps is to remind her how pretty she is. And how good her makeup skills are. And how tasteful she can make the pictures. Yep, a bit of flattery goes a long way. Especially when it is truly meant. That would probable be enough to refocus someone who is vanilla, but she needs more.
While she is lost in the warm fuzzies of my compliments, it’s a perfect moment to grab her firmly by one of my favorite body parts and administer just the right amount of pain and control. I can generally execute this maneuver pretty competently, but during a photo shoot it is complicated by the low availability of said body parts. Her hair and her face is made up just so and any touch would mess it up and invite more ire, a complete opposite of what is intended. Most of her body tends to be covered by a carefully selected sexy garment. Well, “covered” is a bold word for something that consists mostly of lacy fishnet, but caution is still advised when grabbing her by a delicious morsel or two.
Finally, when her mind and body is firmly in my grasp, she can be refocused on the task an hand. Reminding her that she always bounces back when something doesn’t go as planned during a shoot, asking a few questions about what she wants to shoot next and how, and her mind starts working again, and voila! I can see poise and determination returning to her, and off she goes, grabbing her phone camera and tagging me along, amused and satisfied with my handy work.
… And that’s how some of her best visual work gets conceived and eventually carried to term! Go on, have another look!