This has been the sexiest year of my life. Of course, 2011, when I met my partner was a seriously hot one but it wasn’t nearly as deep and intimate as the experiences we’ve shared lately. It is glorious how much we’ve grown in the seven years we have been together. I attribute most of that to kink, bdsm, and love.
One of my favorite things we’ve been doing lately is experimenting with erotic and fetish photography. This isn’t really new per se, I’m a photographer, but I have been in front of the camera more in the past few months than I ever have before. My partner has been stretching his brilliant artist muscles and capturing images of me that have changed my life. That may sound a bit dramatic, but I stand by it.
I have always had the lowest self-esteem, convinced I was inferior to almost everyone I have ever met. I didn’t realize how much that had been shifting lately.
Thanksgiving, for example, is a sexy holiday in our house. It has been for years, but I found myself changing into lacy, see-through and sexy clothes to play in front of the camera for my guy – after gorging on too much food. I never in a million years thought I would be comfortable enough in front of a person, let alone a camera with a full tummy that probably doesn’t look as flattering as if I hadn’t just eaten my weight in turkey and gravy. I didn’t even think about it until we were laying in bed that night. It wasn’t lost on me how different that was.
I have found myself checking myself out in the mirror – sober. WTF? I must have asked my partner twenty times in the past few months if it was a bad thing that I was starting to like the way my round ass looked in the mirror, or that seeing erotic photos of myself turned me on, etc. He is always so kind and patient about my self-esteem struggles, and I think he enjoys being able to help me feel sexier and more confident in myself, as my Dom, my partner, and as my best friend who wants to see me succeed.
Several months ago I wrote about two notable times of increased confidence I have had in the past two years. One was right after returning home after giving birth to my youngest and the other was when I was editing my first nude self-portrait shoot post-baby. I think both of those instances were tinted with pride. I was proud of myself for going through a drug-free labor, but now I know that I carried that small bit of new confidence and applied it like a balm to some of the rawest, most severe wounds in my self-image. Seeing these photos, I was able to catch a glimpse of that strong woman again. I didn’t lose that bit of growth when I was face-deep in my PPD, even if I didn’t believe that at the time. I struggle with feeling like a complete failure to myself and my family every time I have a bit of a backslide. I am learning to trust that that simply isn’t true. You never really lose the perspective you gained, even if it feels like it sometimes.
Showing off on camera isn’t really that new for me, but I have always been the only one to control the camera. It definitely used to turn me on to sit in front of a mirror and masturbate in a video or image for my partner before we lived together. Watching myself I was able to appreciate that I had a pretty pussy, and it was sexy as fuck. I have never, however been turned on by an image someone else took of me. In fact, in the past I loathed most photos taken of me by anyone other than me. I have learned it is a matter of confidence. A fear of appearing “less than perfect” is strong with a lot of people with low self-esteem. I previously wrote about being so insecure I would cry if I caught the giggles! Low self-esteem can really fuck you up and makes things feel a whole lot harder than they need to be.
My partner and I have always had a fairly dirty, kinky relationship. I have folders and folders of images we have taken, some of me taken by him in some very vulnerable, tied up positions. I will always look back fondly at them and appreciate how young we look, and how insanely hot those moments were, but I never felt good about the way I looked in them. Especially ones with my face in them. I felt guilty about that, since I knew he loved them. He did capture our first fisting on camera and I thought that was hot, but my face wasn’t in it, and I again felt proud of myself for that. Rawr.
I have always enjoyed showing off for him. Early in our relationship, we shared a lot of our images and stories on Fetlife and that always turned me on, but for the submissive exhibitionist in me, and maybe a bit of a masochism, since I didn’t really feel good about how I looked in some of them.
That has changed for me somewhere in the last year or so. I find myself favoriting images of myself that he has taken on almost a daily basis. Now, when I am bending over in front of him touching myself, I hope he is taking pictures. Even a year ago, I would have felt self-conscious about him taking pictures of me inserting my own anal plug. Don’t get me wrong, it would have turned me on, but in different ways. This year, I was fucking thrilled that I got to see myself from that angle. It was HOT.
I wrote about how our first foot fetish shoot made me feel good about my big feet, but it has grown so much bigger since then. It isn’t just my feet I enjoy showing off, it is me. I feel more confident and sexy, like I have something to offer as his subject in our art. It is special, and I am starting to be able to appreciate it in a deeper, more significant way.
It turns me on to show off for him, it always has, but what I am learning is that I am starting to enjoy it for me as well. I feel like I have something to say or show worthy of an audience on my own merit, not just because I am his.
The past few shoots we have done, he has had the plan and it has honestly been the most beautiful and subby that I have ever felt. I loved feeling like his doll, his prize. Something he thought was so beautiful, he had to immortalize the moment and share it with the world. I didn’t feel like he was just humoring me by taking pictures of me for me because I expressed interest. I didn’t once think about my double chin, or if I had a stray hair waiting to embarrass me. I didn’t worry about fat rolls or pimples. I was just there. Soaking up his direct attention – my drug of choice, hands down, every time.
Between our dynamic forcing the open communication, my therapy and intensive self-examination I feel a dramatic shift in myself. He sometimes says he can “hear the pages turning” in our lives, and this time I can too. I am working towards something and I am thoroughly enjoying this part of the journey. I can feel the warmer sun on my face as I get closer to the top, and I am starting to fear the drop less and less as the months go on.
Nikki is a photographer, writer, and general creator of things. She writes about mental health, sex, and relationships.