Luke Lalor is the CEO of new website and concept Maximus. He has years of experience working in the photo industry along with prominent names within this field.
Recently he has combined his professional work with his personal passion for fetish, and developed MAXIMUS platform, where work and play can meet. He wishes to explore the market for professional gay fetish photography and raise the bar much higher, “MAXIMUS is the the intersection of 10 years as a photographers agent and a real personal passion […] for fetish”
I caught up with him last week.
LL – The principal was to make quality portrait photography available for guys into fetish. I’ve been in and around the fetish community for all of my adult life, and one of the things that came to me is that even though we seem to be very visual, as a group of people, we don’t photograph ourselves well. If you look through the daddy profiles on various sites, on Recon or whatever, you’ll find that about less than half of 1% have professional photographs of themselves. And that struck me as rather odd. When you think that fetish Is visually driven and a lot of the fetishes require someone to have a fairly good income to afford it all – I mean look at all the Bluf guys – well it really struck me as strange that people aren’t spending a reasonable amount of money on getting professional photographs done of themselves, and the idea really developed from there. I have 10 years’ experience as a photographers’ agent so I’m pretty familiar with the industry and image licencing.
GM – You make a good point. Maybe people who are into fetish may not want to approach a normal photographer about getting such photographs done and it’s a relief to know there are photographers out there, who are not only open to the idea, but know how to photograph it.
LL – Look, access is definitely one of the points that came up on the top of the list as to what we needed to enable to make this happen. Whether that be the website itself, which we’ve designed to be as user friendly and easy to use as possible, or the bricks and mortar retail networks we’re developing. Because Maximus photo shoots are going to be available in 30 – 40 stores worldwide by the middle of the year. They are already available in about a dozen now. We needed to create this access in order for people to say well this is what I’m into and I need to find a photographer who is not embarrassed about shooting that, or is actually passionate about shooting it.
We are also working on a really unique e-store concept; the tag line we are working on is a curated store of objects of desire. We plan on opening a really interesting e-store full of very limited edition exclusive stuff that the average fetish guy would be interested in. No regular fetish gear. No adult toys, but really well designed limited edition one offs.
GM- In a sense the whole fetish thing has started to become more main stream , not only on the gay scene, but on the straight scene as well, Take Torture Garden for instance, which is probably about 90% straight, though gay people are always welcome there.
LL- I’ll have to check that out as the straight market is definitely one we intend to explore once we’ve learned all the lessons we need to learn. The fetish scene is certainly a lot more disparate here in Berlin.
LL – Absolutely right, and I think that we all define it differently too.
GM – I’m assuming that clients can be assured of complete discretion and when they purchase the shoot, their photos won’t then become public.
LL – There’s actually two rights packages and the customer chooses which one they want before doing the shoot. Either they choose a package that means images are completely private (the photographer can’t use them or post them anywhere) or they can use choose a package that means the photographer can use their images on his site, they can be used on the Maximus site and social media, and, most importantly, in the annual book that Maximus intends publishing every year. We’re hoping that it becomes a real guide as to how fetish photography develops worldwide.
GM – It’s a great concept and a great site. You have photographers in most parts of the world. Do you have plans to extend that network further, into places like South America and particularly Japan, which has a strong tradition of fetish?
LL – Absolutely. Active conversations all over the place and we are launching city by city. We already have bricks and mortar set ups in Berlin and London, and are extending into New York and San Francisco. It’s happening city by city like that. And a number of photographers are interested. For instance in London, Expectations will be carrying the package. For the stores there’s a really good opportunity for the sales assistants in fetish stores to be able to talk to people about getting photos done. We are going to be holding in store competitions, in store events, photo shoots in store. We’re going to get the photographers to spend a Saturday in store so they can talk to customers directly. We know there’s a lot of talking that’s involved, and the photographers are right behind it and we are too.
LL- (smiling) I saw that, yes.
GM – How do you go about choosing the photographers, and what drew you to these people?
LL – I feel really privileged to work with some of the great figures who are already active in this area, but you’ll see on the site as well that there are a number of photographers who are just testing and coming into the area. Visually it’s an extremely interesting one for a photographer and what we want to do is talk to fashion photographers, portrait photographers who are not in the space yet, but who are eager to get into the space. For although there are a good number of great photographers who work in the area already, I think we need to look at it from a load of different angles. Photography is extremely broad and we can approach different genres by working with other photographers, a number of whom are young straight guys. Paul Green, Lars Boorman, young straight guys who are already reasonably successful portrait and fashion photographers, who just love the concept so much that they said well let’s give it a try. They’re actually getting commercial contracts in this space too.
GM – Don’t you think, though, that a lot of the gay people who come to you would be more comfortable working with gay photographers?
LL – Mmmm. Look I suppose it depends on what the subject of the shoot will be. If it takes a more personal note (and the shoot can go in whichever direction that the subject and the photographer agree on) I will have to address that on a case by case basis. We’ve not encountered it yet.
GM – I ask because one of your slogans is “No limits – no boundaries”. Does that really mean no limits? Have people asked for fairly weird or fairly explicit photo sessions?
LL – Sexual content has not yet come up, but of course it will. Photographers can of course opt out of anything that they feel uncomfortable with, but it is something we have discussed. Up until now, it’s been really fun, really creative portrait type stuff.
GM – Well I think it’s a great idea and I wish you every success with it. Thanks for talking to us.
LL – Thanks. Great to talk to you too.
Take a look at http://maximusmaximus.com