One of Unholys all time favourite award winning photographers, owner of erotic website Shot With Desire
and Sydney Sex Therapist, took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about cross-dressing, paddles, The Sydney Hellfire club
and much much more.
Miss Em: How did you get into photography?
Cat: I've always loved photography since I was really little. I've been obsessed with vintage erotic postcards and sepia images of women in corsets and men in breeches. I loved documentary photography. I spent many, many hours in high school, locked away in the red light of the darkroom. Throughout uni, I was obsessed with photographing and filming all my friends and the gigs that my bands at the time played. I was heavily into the underground punk metal scene in Sydney in the 90’s and my friends looked like walking artworks in themselves. We were young and angry haha! I had dreadlocks down to my bum and screamed in a crust band and my friends were all musicians, artists and performers. It was this defiance and attitude I was intent on capturing. Our music was DIY and our clothes and fashion were our own. We weren't interested in mainstream fashion or expressions. We screen printed our own band shirts, made our own clothes, organised our own gigs. It was this DIY spirit that led me to creating my own erotica and porn. I wasn't particularly impressed with the erotic and adult material I saw out there, so just like we made our own bands I decided to make my own erotica. Being so heavily immersed in this alternative culture from a really young age kept me fascinated with documenting alternative expressions, performance and culture. Back in those days, that scene and lifestyle were pretty inaccessible, so I loved capturing it all with my camera. I felt like I was capturing things that I haven’t really seen again since. I have years and years of black and white photography from Sydney punks picnics, protests and Gurlesque the lesbian strip club, from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. It was a really exciting time to be in Sydney, we were breaking rules and writing our own scripts.
My professional photography career started in 1999 when I had my first photographs published in some books. Then I shot news and feature stories for newspapers. I was keen on becoming a photojournalist but Lady Luck had other ideas. Suddenly, around 2001, all these opportunities to shoot adult material for Australian men’s magazines, lesbian magazines and fetish websites kept falling into my lap and I revelled in it! It was by accident I started shooting erotic material, but I've been specialising in it ever since! I laugh to myself when I think of my indecision to take up a big feature bondage story for an Australian men’s magazine back in 2001 now! I shot a bondage mistress complete with mohawk, piercings, paddles and huge black boots in the warehouse I lived in at the time. That was pretty ‘out there’ back then, and the magazine loved it! It sure was different to the rest of the glamour models in the mag.. It was really fun to shoot for such mainstream mags while also shooting centrefolds and covers for dyke magazines like SLIT at the same time. I was shooting for all different sexual appetites and this was endlessly fascinating. I shot and filmed for a fetish website for a number of years in Sydney and while living in London. Every shoot requires such remarkably different criteria to be filled. It makes sense that I became a sex therapist I suppose hahah!
Miss Em: What is Shot with desire and how did it come about?
Cat: Shot With Desire is a kinky and sexy walk into my erotic imagination and the imagination of the characters I am lucky enough to photograph in various stages of undress.. All the photo shoots and photo stories of men and women on the site are characters that my character, “Cat O’Nine Tails” meets.. It’s the erotic world purely through my eyes and my lens as I’m the only photographer for the website, and I often write erotic fiction or poetry to accompany the shoots. I created the website around a mythical story about my character and her adventures in the late 1700’s and 1800’s. I get to “meet” (photograph) a wide diversity of original and unique men and women of different sexual persuasions. The shoots range from black and white fine art nudes in nature, to retro 50’s shoots, to retellings of Australian bushranger history in sepia from the 1800’s, to bondage and discipline, gender bending, cross dressing, hostage fantasies, submissive men, dark fairy tales, punks, goths, dreamy pin ups, explicit retellings of vintage postcards and heaps more… About three quarters of the people I get to photograph haven’t ever modelled nude before, so there’s a definite freshness to a lot of the shoots. I’m really blessed to be able to work with some fascinating, courageous and beautiful people! I’ve been working on shotwithdesire for about nine years now and it’s been running live for seven years on Valentines Day this year! Yay! So Happy Birthday to shotwithdesire! Shotwithdesire is an alternative expression of beauty and sexuality, it’s erotica retold and rewritten. It came about because I’d been shooting for Australian men’s magazines, lesbian magazines and fetish websites for many years and I wanted to create something different to everything I’d already seen. I also couldn’t find any sexy photos of men for women to look at and that really pissed me off! There was hunky photos of men for a gay male audience, but where was the stuff for the women to drool over? So I made sure from the start that shotwithdesire would be 50/50 men and women. I also have noticed that the way I photograph men, is very different to male photographers, which is interesting.. When you become a member of shotwithdesire, I want you to enter another world, a lush and erotic Garden of Eden where you leave behind the cares of your everyday world. It’s all about the magic of sensuality and sexuality and the spell it can cast. When I launched the website it was Australia’s first ever alternative adult website and since then has been nominated for all sorts of International Adult Awards… After working on something so underground for so many years it’s also pretty gratifying to win awards for my photography work, like the Australian Adult Industry Awards Photographer of the Year and the Eros Shine Australian Visual Artist of the Year! I work really hard on it and I’d be thrilled to bits if any of your readers decided to support my independent website and become a member! It’ s pretty original content, and you can’t find most of the models posing naked anywhere else on the internet!
Models: Queen of Hearts and Mister Inksley Model: Elle Fyre Model: Sindy Skin
Miss Em: What would be your most favourite image and tell us a little of the back story behind it?
Cat: I have so many, but my favourite fetish photo would have to be Fetish Cherrie (see below) This was an image I took for a fetish fashion shoot for a Sydney Lesbian and Queer magazine back in 2008.. It was really fun to play with the femme and butch images in the costumes and all the shiny latex! Thing was, we had about six costume changes to do in only about an hour! We had to do different hair and styling for each costume and let me tell you, you just cannot put on latex, thigh boots or corsets in a hurry. It was frantic! There was clothes everywhere! We shot it in a pub and the staff we were wandering around rather amused. I had two assistants luckily, but one of them disappeared! Hahaha! Never a dull moment!
Image: Fetish Cherrie
Miss Em: We've seen the work that you do with The Sydney Hellfire club. Is it very challenging shooting in that setting?
Cat: It’s so much fun being the official photographer for the Sydney Hellfire Club! I feel so at home there! I get to dress up in sexy, shiny Unholy clothes and photograph kinksters in their natural habitat! It’s always such a wild night! Everyone is so friendly and uninhibited and it’s a visual feast to behold everyone in their sexy costumes! It’s not challenging on a personal level, as I love meeting people and seeing regulars and I've been shooting sexy performances for about fifteen years now. I’ve also met some amazing people, and found new models for shotwithdesire at Hellfire which is so great! I try not to be too creepy and ask them if they’ll model naked for me in a husky voice though hahahaa!
It’s challenging because it’s so dam hot and I have to have a cold shower afterwards and whip myself with birch branches before I can calm down enough to sleep! Hahah just joking! Or am I? It’s true that the night is incredibly hot though! A memorable moment was when I was shooting a group of Amazon, latex clad mistresses and a man knelt at my feet and begged to kiss and lick my boots! I was wondering if I could photograph people at the same time that he worshipped my feet. That’s a new multi tasking challenge!
Lani De Viate @ The Sydney Hellfire Club
Some people laugh and say, “Oh it’s just an event photography job, it’s super easy!” It’s really not easy at all! Technically it’s quite challenging as it’s a rather dark nightclub and every room and nook and cranny has different lighting. I have to think really quickly on my feet, and be able to change camera settings for different rooms at the drop of a hat! There’s a smoke machine and laser lights in one room, dark booths with light walls, another area with red lights, a rope suspension area with very low lights and then a stage.. All of these rooms call for different settings and people are fast! You often don’t get a second chance to shoot them before they rush off to the dance floor or for a flogging! Often I’m shooting someone dressed in head to toe black latex, maybe with a pony hood, so there’s not even flesh on their face showing, against a black wall! Photography types can appreciate the challenge in that! My camera gets a real work out! It’s non stop action, there’s always hundreds of people in there and I’m always rushing around shooting! Sometimes it’s easy to miss people who really want their photo taken or are wearing a particularly over the top outfit because it’s dark and I’m so flat out shooting.. The perfectionist in me wishes I had studio lights set up in the corner to really capture people’s costumes, but it’s spontaneous documentary style photography that works best at this event! I couldn't be tied somewhere, I’d need to be dashing around in all rooms in the nightclub to best capture the action and fun madness of the night! I've also got to be really conscious of the fact that some people don’t want to have their photo taken. Some people have jobs where they can’t risk having their identity shown, so I’m always checking with people first if they’d like their photo taken. I generally err on the side of caution in this regard, rather than be too in people’s face like some mad paparazzi hahah
Cat in Unholy @ The Sydney Hellfire Club Cat in Unholy @ The Sydney Hellfire Club Unholy prize winner @ The Sydney Hellfire Club
Cat: Shot With Desire turns Seven in 2014! I might be planning a delayed huge birthday bash to celebrate, with sexy performances from shotwithdesire models and a themed dress up! I've been shooting lots of sexy new male and female cast members (models) over summer, so get ready for lots of new photo shoots in the members section! They often came round to my house on a really hot, summers day, so I just covered them in oil and pointed a hose at them for a messy, wet, sexy shoot! Lots of hot, wet shoots coming up! I've got more photos of two Hellfire regulars coming up soon which has got lots of Hellfire peeps tying their knickers in a knot! I've also got lots of new photo stories of shotwithdesire favourites to edit and upload onto the website! I've almost sold out all of my erotic photography books, and I'm about to start work on a new one! I’m reeeeeally excited about this! (I get excited quite a lot haha!) I'm hopefully holding some more ‘learn photography workshops’ soon so stay tuned for that! I'll be running more erotic photography workshops with a male and ones with a female model once I get the new venue sorted, as well as some out and about workshops using natural lighting. I'm still offering one on one photography lessons, with or without a model for the busy person who wants a bespoke lesson tailored specifically to their ability and requests. I've had so much demand to buy my erotic fine art prints that I’ll be setting up an online page that you can buy them soon! I'm still managing to get this happening while running my sex therapy private practice phew!!! Oh, and lots of top secret things for shotwithdesire in 2014 that I can’t spill the beans on yet!
Contact details and websites.
Shot with Desire.
Website & Facebook
Cat O'Nine Tails Photography.
Website & Facebook
Sex therapy and couples counselling.
Website & Facebook