Estimated reading time: 8 minutes —
Second Life Erotic Photography: An interview with Nearly Doune
Warning: This post is about Second Life Erotic Photography, therefore, if this post was a Second Life Sim, it would be rated adult. So if you’re not an adult, or are an adult that would rather not see material that might be considered “adult”, then you might instead prefer to have a look at these pictures of kittens.
Nearly Doune, who also goes by Almost Finished, is an erotic photographer in Second Life aiming to “create erotic impressions of the intimate, intense and loving nature of sex”. I first encountered Nearly’s work when he casually sent me a snap while I was dancing at the KamaSutra Gentlemen’s Club. It turned out to be one of his first published photos, making me his first ever model.
Since then, Nearly’s work has become increasingly popular, with over 15,000 views on his blog after almost 100 published photo shoots with models from every corner of Second Life. I’ve now had two shoots with him and I’ll share some of those photos in this post.
Curious about the man behind the work, I sat down with Nearly over coffee last week, where we talked about what makes his work different, what makes a successful Second Life erotic photography shoot, his recent foray into erotic machinima, and the motivations behind why he does what he does.
Canary Beck: So what makes your photos different from what others might take out there?
Nearly Doune: Well, I follow a number of people in Flickr, some take what can only be described as Second Life porn pictures. Some take what I guess you could describe as artistic erotic photographs – so, single pictures, rather than a series of pictures. The latter photos are often of exceptional quality, just amazing pictures, some of them. The former pictures, and this is where I risk sounding judgmental: I find coarse and poor quality. They are badly composed, no attention to lighting, no attention to things like zoom and angle The key thing is for me personally is they just don’t turn me on in the slightest. There’s nothing human about them. But what they do is attempt to show a sequence, something over time, rather than a single snapshot.
CB: Yes, like panels in a filmstrip?
ND: I don’t have anything against single snapshots – sometimes a single picture can be incredibly powerful but what I like is the idea of beautiful pictures in sequence showing a moment of intimacy between two (or more) people.
CB: Do you mean, in how they might tell a story, or lay out a scene?
ND: Well, my photos often form sequences, a story of sorts, but I try to leave as much as possible to the viewer, that leaves them able to make up their own stories in their head. I don’t go for these silly stories I often find on other blogs: “One day, Jane was out in her car and it broke down. She walked to the local garage but didn’t have any money to pay the mechanic…” Ugh, ugh, ugh, I hate that.
CB: The typically pornographic set up?
ND: Yes. I know loads of people love it – which is fine – but it does nothing for me.
CB: So would it be safe to say that your images capture more of a feeling or emotion, rather than a plot?
ND: I would certainly like to think that. If people felt in any way emotionally moved by my pictures that would make me very happy.
CB: So is this a business for you, or more of a hobby or interest? Or even a calling?
ND: Oh, pure passion. A calling? Not sure about that. But I love doing it, and I get positive feedback about my pictures, which I love even more.
CB: Do you also take pictures in RL, of any kind? Or is this strictly a Second Life activity?
ND: Actually yes, but not of nude models. I’ve studied photography in RL informally for some years. Not at any official level, you understand, but I learned about composition from my RL photos. In RL, I like to take macro photography – extreme close-ups – of objects. Which is also a theme of my Second Life pictures – I like to zoom.
CB: Yes, I’ve seen that. So not people so much?
ND: No. Well, apart from the usual family and friends pictures.
CB: So how did you get into this then? What gave you the idea?
ND: I wish I could say there was a big plan. Going back to earlier in the year, I started taking pictures of people and passing them to them and found they really liked them. Back then my technique wasn’t what it is now.
CB: I remember that’s how I first learned you were a photographer.
ND: Yes. It’s the positive comments I received that encouraged me to take more and work on my pictures. And then, I met Sally, who’s my number one muse. She adores being my subject and is always coming up with new ideas. So she was the first person I shot in a sex shoot and then everything just kind of evolved from there… the Flickr, then the blog.
CB: That’s interesting. Did the photos first start off as nudes or erotic portraits, and then transition from there?
ND: Just portraits to begin with I was too shy to ask nude people if I could photograph them, but then people liked the pictures, so I became more daring!
CB: Clearly! So, can you bring me back to the first time it went further than a nude portrait?
ND: Sure, well I was at one of these sex dens nosing around with my camera. And I saw a couple fucking. These places… they don’t often offer the best in avatar composition, but these two were both beautiful so I plucked up the courage and asked them if I could take pictures and they were fine with it. One of them was Sally. So afterwards, she and I carried on with our own session.
CB: That’s another difference in your art, wouldn’t you say? In that you are a subject of the art, as well as the artist?
ND: Yes, unless of course I’m shooting nude studies. But yes, what I’m recording is more than just a sequence of poses. It’s a moment – a moment of intimacy – between my model and me.
CB: So how does that come about typically? Is it a planned thing? Or does it just evolve spontaneously?
ND: Oh, it varies. Back in the summer when this all started. I would often IM people I saw and liked and ask them if I could take their picture – and in equal measure I got accepted and told to get lost. Since my blog has started to become popular, I now have increasing numbers of people IMing me and asking if they can model with me. I tend to deal with those as and when. I mean, I don’t really schedule those shoots so much. If I’m on and they are on and we both have time, then we shoot and see what happens. Sally I give priority to, however, and we will schedule in time… and spend *hours* shooting.
CB: And how long does it usually take to carry out a full shoot?
ND: Sally and I did a shoot over the weekend that took two nights to complete. It can be anything from 90 minutes to over four hours.
CB: So some marathon sessions. What does that depend on?
ND: Yes. It depends on a lot of things. There are the logistics – if the place is laggy, then it’s physically harder to take pictures. Often I have to fight asset server problems in busy sims. I know I could save to disk, but I like being able to give the pictures I’m taking to my model as I take them because that has an impact on the dynamic between us.
CB: That’s interesting, what would you say happens as you send your model the pictures?
ND: Well, simply put. If I’m taking good pictures, it turns them on and if they’re turned on, that turns me on too. And, if I’m turned on, I take better pictures. So, it’s a positive feedback thing.
CB: Would you say that that is when you know your shoot is successful? When you and the model are both equally turned on?
ND: Yes, I would.
CB: Sounds like a great job.
ND: Personally, I feel that comes out in the better shoots – but perhaps that’s just what I want to believe.
CB: If you would suggest some shoots we should share with our readers what you recommend we look at?
ND: Sure. I’ve very proud of all my shoots, but for sure I have favorites. So these are in no particular order. I adore the shoot I did with you, for colour, composition and sensuality… and, I was massively turned on as I took them… which you might not want to include.
CB: I’ll think about that.
ND: This is one of my favourite shoots with Sally, I adore the colours and composition, and the intimacy portrayed. I have so many favourites in this shoot.
ND: This I just love, love, love. Intimate and gentle. Quiet, close. Sally did a lot of the planning for this shoot.
CB: That’s quite different isn’t it for Second Life erotica, to feature a pregnant model?
ND: I really, really want to explore all aspects of human intimacy. I would be interested, for example, in doing a guy-guy shoot one day. So perhaps for that reason, this is another personal favourite shoot.
CB: She must work out.
ND: That shoot was a step for me outside of my personal comfort zone… and, as it turned out, an amazingly hot session.
CB: Oh my! Is she a… he?
ND: A shemale, yes.
CB: Well, that’s a very courageous set of pictures, Nearly!
ND: In truth, my pictures now are better than that – I saturate less – but, like I said, these sets are personal memories for me as well as just ‘photosets’. And for number 5, I think this shoot. Which I was very pleased with for a number of reasons, composition being the main one. But, the cumshot also got me lots of positive feedback!
CB: Yes, I’m sure that’s very original. On the subject of post-production, which that shot clearly is the product of, you don’t do a lot of that do you?
CB: Any reason for that?
ND: I save my pictures to inventory as 512 x 512, which is really small, so the first thing I do when I prepare them for the blog is enlarge and resize them. Now, I know the really serious photographers take pictures at much higher resolutions than that but this serves two functions for me. One, it enables me to pass my pictures to my model as I take them – for reasons previously mentioned. Two, when it gets enlarged in my graphics application, it loses definition – and that, in my opinion, makes it a bit more like an impressionist painting.
CB: Yes, I noticed that especially in my shoot.
ND: I do like my pictures to appear realistic, but I like to try to achieve realism through lighting and composition. I’m not really bothered by creating incredibly high definition pictures. So that always happens in post. The other things I do, I often brighten pictures a little and increase the contrast. I *do* now try to smooth out any particularly jagged skin parts – jagged butts just have to be corrected!
ND: And I add in ejaculation shots. Oh, and my name. That’s about it.
CB: So, I know you offer your shoots for free to those you approach, have you also been taking on some paid work?
ND: Nope. I did put up a page on my website offering paid for portraits which I did because a number of people nagged me to, telling me I’d make lots of money, but of course I didn’t. It doesn’t bother me at all.
CB: So, if someone is interested in having a shoot with you, all they have to do is ask?
ND: Yep, that’s all they have to do.
CB: You clearly must enjoy your work.
ND: Oh, I do.
CB: So where do you think things may go from here? Any future projects planned? Are you still aiming to broaden your portfolio?
ND: I think I might do another movie at one stage. The first was really very experimental; it was a lot of hard work.
CB: So you recently took another big step in the making of a short film. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
ND: Well, again a number of people were asking me why I didn’t do movies. I looked at some of the ‘Second Life porn’ movies… See, I really don’t want to appear judgmental. At one level, I think anyone creating stuff is really, really good, but they were just moving versions of the pictures I disliked. I’m going to get hate mail after this is published) they were badly composed, jerky, poor lighting, bad animations. Again, not a turn on at all. I mean, in one sense, there’s plenty of RL porn that has the same philosophy. It’s just about depicting fucking, there’s nothing emotional there. Sex continually bewilders me. It’s just the most incredibly intimate thing and yet treated by so much media in a manner such that the intimacy is practically invisible… I’m not explaining this well, but anyway, I thought I’d give it a go – try to show in a movie the sort of thing I was hoping was on show in my photos.
CB: How long does a movie like that take to make?
ND: I think Sally and I spent five or even six evenings shooting footage and I must have spent as much time again at least in editing. That’s why I won’t shoot a movie with anyone other than Sally – no one else would have the patience. But movie shooting certainly isn’t the spontaneous experience that photo shoots are, so I guess there will be plenty more of them.
CB: Would you not partially agree that by sharing intimate moments in public, you are not reducing their intimacy in some way?
ND: Yes, I guess that’s inevitable, yes. There’s a scientist guy principle – I can’t remember his name – something beginning with H. Heisenberg. I think he said, the more closely you measure something the more you end up destroying it. So yes, I think you have a point, but I still think there’s space for something of a different nature from that which is out there.
CB: And everyone, after all is doing this voluntarily, without payment of any kind?
ND: That’s right and that’s really important to me. I want my models to be delighted with the pictures they take with me, no exceptions.
Nearly Doune’s Second Life Erotic Photography Blog: http://almostandnearly.blogspot.co.uk
Nearly Doune’s Second Life Erotic Photography Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/80173466@N05/
Nearly Doune’s Second Life Erotic Machinima: http://almostandnearly.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/sally-machinima.html