Gear, Fetish and Bears Through the Lens of Joshi

Manchester based photographer Joshi Williams has been doing gear and fetish photography for just shy of a decade. He describes his photographic style as a mixture of cinematic and chiaroscuro since he enjoys working with light to create dynamic portraits of his subjects. He uses his talent and lens to unlock the true nature of his subjects and by doing so he hopes to help people embrace a greater sense of self-confidence and see the beauty they possess.

We sit down with this talented artist to learn more about his process and involvement with the fetish community.  

BWM: Tell us about your journey in photography. How did you learn? What led you to fetish photography in particular?

Joshi: I learn as any photographer does, by picking up a camera and shooting what we see appeals to us – at the time when I got my first digital camera, I took it with me on trips. When I was starting to get into photography, whilst I was studying, I loved focusing my work towards the industrial and worn-down, particularly in the town I was growing up in.

It wasn’t until around 2015-2016, that I was led down the path of fetish photography – I had just started coming out to the local leather meets in Manchester and noticed they did not have a regular photographer, so I offered as a volunteer to do this. I would do this for a few years, and slowly, I started working on shoots at home or in spaces, before I led myself to commit to being a fetish (or gear) photographer.

BWM: Are you personally a member of the bear or fetish communities yourself?

Joshi: I would like to consider myself a member of both, though I have been more involved with the local fetish communities more so than I have with the bear community. I’m slowly dipping my toes into the regular events held by the bear community though I have been to one or two local bear weekends in the last couple of years (with the exception of the pandemic year).

BWM: Your photography features lots of body types which we very much appreciate. Why is featuring diverse bodies in gear important to you?

Joshi: Because I do not want to follow the norm – I want to ensure that all people who approach me as a photographer in terms of their body shape or size are represented, and that I step up to that challenge. Gear, especially fetish gear, shouldn’t be exclusively marketed to just a single type or size of body – because in reality, not everyone is shaped the way brands market their products as being for.

BWM: I assume many of the men you shoot are not professional models, how do you work with your subjects to get these amazing shots?

Joshi: It’s actually quite the contrary, most of the people I have worked with over the years have been people within the community looking to brush up their profile pictures or have that experience of a photographer who knows how to get the best out of them to produce images that are more reflective of what they see or what others may see.

BWM: As someone who works with a lot of people immersed in leather and fetish, what would you say are some misconceptions about the scene?

Joshi: You are not expected, nor required, to invest in leather or fetish gear that costs you any large sums of debt – you don’t need to have the high-end gear, you don’t need to wear what everyone else is wearing. What you should do is invest in what you feel you as an individual will wear and make use of, and it doesn’t need to break the bank. Second hand is always acceptable, and nothing a lick of polish or grease can’t fix.

BWM: Who are some of your favorite artists/ photographers?

Joshi: As I’ve been growing up in the fetish community, someone that’s inspired me though I hardly got to know them properly in the time they had on this Earth would have been Sly Hands. The works, the ideas and concepts he worked with were always mind-blowing for me, and how he worked with light amazed me as there was always something so unique to his work.

Lately, I’d have to say, and give a shout out to Steven Harwick of Bound Leather Zine (@boundleatherzine) who does outstanding work (and is a very cute leather bear, I must add!) that explores some of the intricacies of leather and fetish particularly across a broad range of subjects, bodies and scenes. Secondly, to my friend and fellow artist/photographer, Eamon Yates (@patonyatesphotography) whose work blends modern stylization with that ability to also showcase a wide variety of people, body shapes, sizes and their individual styles or personalities.

BWM: How can someone book a session with you? Do you sell prints of your work?

Joshi: People can usually get in touch with me via social media, submitting a booking there or by going to my website. I am currently in discussions to get prints out there, on selective runs so watch this space.

For more information on Joshi Williams:

Twitter I Instagram I LinkTree

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