Ted Tahquechi has had a love of the visual arts for over thirty years. His obsession with photography started in the late 1980’s with a black and white darkroom course in college. Ted spent years refining his darkroom technique and photographic skills, then made the move to digital in the late 1990’s.
In 1999, when corporate careers were in full swing for Ted and his wife Carrie, an auto accident stole the majority of Ted’s eyesight, leaving him with 5% low functioning vision in one eye and none in the other. With Ted finding himself in need of help visually in most situations, his career in software development working for Atari, Accolade and Mattel Toys was at an end. Living in Santa Cruz, CA, Ted found himself surrounded by the amazing natural beauty of the central coast and picked up the camera again; this time to capture what he was not able to see at family functions. Though it is difficult for Ted to see the photographs that he is taking, he visualizes the light and shadow in his mind. Ted holds degrees in fine art photography and studio art photography and has set out to create work that celebrates beauty in all body sizes, sexual orientation, gender and ethnicity.
Fetishscapes is a collection of images that grew out of Ted’s years spent studying light and the way it wraps and shapes the curves of the human form. Ted had the desire to create a body of work that juxtaposes the sometimes harsh fetish and kink activities with soft beautiful, sculpting light. All the images in the collection embrace the use of negative space and represent the remaining portion of Ted’s vision. “I want people viewing this set of photographs to share how I perceive the world. A significant portion of my visual field is black: I compose the photos based on what I can see and leave the rest as negative space, this is how I see through the camera,” says Ted.
“Throughout the creation of this project, I have learned a lot about myself and met some truly amazing people. I always strive to challenge myself and constantly change the perceptions of what a blind person is capable of. Fetishscapes is my second major body of work focused on the human form, and though it employs techniques learned from years shooting my Landscapes of the Body project, this undertaking is my first that features multiple models on set at once and captures movement. I employ several techniques to direct the participants when movement will be involved. Since I can’t see the movement during the moment of shooting, I rely on these techniques for composition and timing to capture these images. Coming up with different ways of shooting a scene has been challenging and fun.
Technical challenges aside, I found the process of learning about the kinks and fetishes featured in Fetishscapes fascinating. In my research leading up to the start of this undertaking, I realized early on that relying on experts in the lifestyle who actively practice the fetishes I was looking to capture was a necessity. I believe there is a huge difference between hiring two models, then haphazardly and likely improperly, directing them to “do” an impact (whipping etc.) scene and inviting a couple who are in a dominant submissive relationship full-time to perform the same scene. I wanted the imagery in this collection to be as accurate and real as it is artistic and beautiful. Why fetish photography? because I think the negativity surrounding fetish play is misleading. The participants in these acts are not engaging in them without explicit consent. Just because an act is something we don’t agree with doesn’t mean the people participating aren’t enjoying themselves.
Before I started this project, I held what I would consider general knowledge of the kink and fetish lifestyle, mostly what I had seen in movies and in media. After completing this project, I don’t see myself jumping into any particular fetish, the fetish play didn’t “rub off” on me. It was great fun creating this work and meeting many people I am honored to call friends along the way.
I would like to stress the importance of education and acceptance when discussing fetish play. I learned a couple of things while walking this road: first, learn about something before you pass judgement. If someone you know is into or wants to try a fetish or kink – let them. Realize that your aversion for their activities is your issue not theirs. Let other people be happy and do what makes them happy without judgement. Second, you may not think you identify as being a part of kink culture, but nearly all of us take part in Voyeurism in one form or another.
Voyeurism: the practice of taking pleasure in observing something private, sordid, or scandalous.
Without the participation and belief in this project from my partner Studio Friction, and all the fantastic volunteers from the Denver (and other areas) kink communities, Fetishscapes would not have become a reality. My deepest appreciation goes out to all the participants, especially those who were willing to step outside of their comfort zone and show their bodies for the sake of creating beautiful art – you are all truly amazing.”