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[NSFW] BDSM Photography Breaks Out of the Bedroom

Ian Reid makes sadomasochism look as American as apple pie.

This article contains adult content.

Visual evidence of BDSM dates back to the 5th century BC, meaning erotic role-play hasn't always been as taboo as one might think. Still, contemporary images of consensual sadomasochism seem more visible today than at any other point in human history. Long after the writings of the Marquis de Sade and the rise of post-WWII leather culture, BDSM is finally enjoying its time in the light, and works by photographer Ian Reid exemplify the ways in which bondage, discipline, dominance, and submission have become a larger part of the cultural landscape.

A Brooklyn native, one-time graffiti artist, and near-lifelong skateboarder, Reid began taking photographs when he was 15 and first garnered attention for his portraits of New York's skate scene. Since then, he's shot for brands like Nike and Converse, and his editorial work has appeared in publications like Vogue, Vibe, and In-Style.

Reid's examination of BDSM started when he photographed a neighbor deeply invested in the subculture. He's since continued to capture images of participants enacting fantasies in public places. In A Days Work: Photographs by Ian Reid, LA gallery These Days offers viewers a selection of Reid’s transgressive images. In addition to his portraits, the exhibition includes three limited-edition skateboard decks displaying Reid’s fetish photography, all released by the Girl Skateboard Company.

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While taking a break from “tying up a nice young lady,” Reid tells The Creators Project, "I grew up in a subculture that has now become as mainstream as where I’m from in New York: skateboarding and Brooklyn." But when it comes to the subculture he's chosen to document in his most recent work, Reid is more reflective. “BDSM has become more visible and acceptable through fashion and the wide use of the internet,” he observes. “A lot of fashion designers [...] use aspects of it in their accessories or details for retail or shows. When you dig into how the designers come up with some of these elements, it traces back to the fetish world and things that were typically kept very private.”

BDSM is “now just another form of expression," Reid believes. "But also, with so many people having celebrity status and being out-and-about with things that are usually kept secret, it just gradually becomes acceptable."

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A Days Work: Photographs by Ian Reid is on view at These Days in LA through December 4. Check out more of Ian Reid's work on his website.

Related links:

Leather Landscapes as Self-Portraits of Fetish and Devotion

115 Portraits Capture the Queer Sexy 70s

Orgasm Ping Pong Is Perfectly Awkward