Dirk Hooper Photography-http://www.dirkhooper.com/
Can you tell our readers how you got your start in the Kink Community?
I’ve been kinky since I was a little kid. I identified what I was into when I was 13, but I didn’t really get involved in the BDSM community until I found a local munch on an AOL chat board much later.
Once I attended that munch it led to my first play party, and I’ve never looked back!
What have you found most fulfilling about being a part of and working in this community?
Being in the BDSM Community is more than a pastime for me. I’m all in. My business, my art, and my life are all directly involved in BDSM. While I’ve tried to engage in vanilla relationships over the past 20 years, it’s always been awkward and unfulfilling. Kink is a part of me. There’s not just one thing that fulfills me about kink. It’s an integral part of who I am and what I do.
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to working in the Kink Community?
I think the biggest challenge is communicating with people outside of the community. There are so many restrictions, biases, and misconceptions in the world. Much of what I do is a direct reaction to my own struggles to get quality news and information out to a wider audience, and helping others to do so as well.
What would you say is your overall mission in regards to the Kink Community? How does your work help to accomplish this?
I remember what it was like to not BE in the community. It was terrible. I knew what I wanted, but I had no idea how to get there. Once I got in, there was so much poor and/or contradictory information, and so many people set themselves up as gatekeepers.
What I want to do is knock down walls. While part of my audience are members of the Kink Community, my people, I also want to reach out to people who have not found their way yet, or people who don’t understand what’s going on. The vanilla crowd is also my target audience.
My photography is focused on portraying my own kinks and the fantasies of the models in the photos, but it’s also to give a positive view of another world to the general public.
My writing, journalism, podcasts, and adult marketing consultation are designed to educate, inform, and entertain. Not all of my work is kinky, but it’s a large part of what I do. Also, I like to help people out.
How did you get your start in writing and photography?
I’ve been an artist and writer since I was very young. When I was little, I would draw superheroes, and write stories about time travel and spaceships.
My professional photography developed alongside my burgeoning interest in the BDSM community. I needed something to take photos of, and I was meeting new people and learning about the lifestyle, so naturally that’s what I took photos of.
I returned to college and took four years of media arts (film, video, and photography), and that led to a professional career in photography.
As for writing, I’ve been serious about doing fiction and non-fiction since 8th grade. I’ve been published as a poet, as a comic book writer, and I’ve written articles for numerous print and online publications.
About five years ago, I got really serious about writing, which led to being published at HuffPost, Slate, Business Insider, Quartz, and even The Sporting News and MSN Sport. I’ve won the Top Writer Award at Quora for the past three years, and I’ve written countless articles for various BDSM sites and my own projects.
With writing, what I’ve discovered is–the more I write, the more positive things happen.
Are there differences in the processes relating to kink photography vs. non-kink photography? If so, what are they?
My process with working with people, kinky or otherwise, are exactly the same. Good photos rely on making a connection with the subject and creating an environment where they feel comfortable.
You’d think that it would be more difficult to get a kinky person comfortable in front of the camera, but that’s usually not the case. If they are into fetish/kink/BDSM, then a photoshoot is often the culmination of many of years of fantasies. This is their moment!
I work often with professional dominatrices, and they appreciate my experience and knowledge of the community.
If anything, I try to find something, or someone, who is interesting to me from another angle to do non-kink work. But the process is actually similar no matter who the person is.
Now, I do create some work that I call my “Walkabout Series” that consists of urban and landscape photography in a particular location. That’s really a meditative process where I explore a location, and try to take photos that are challenging artistically. That’s very different from what I usually do with people.
What do you find most fulfilling about mentoring? What do you find most challenging?
I guess that a lot of what I do right now is influenced by how much I wanted to be in the BDSM community when I was growing up. Since I’m “in” now, and I’ve had a lot of great experiences, I want to help pass that on to others.
Helping someone to experience the lifestyle fully is extremely fulfilling to me, since I know about the joy it’s brought to me.
What I find challenging is “deprogramming” people from all the low-quality information outside of the community, and self-serving misinformation inside the community.
How does one go about becoming your mentee?
I don’t have a formal process set up. What I’ve mostly done as a mentor is provide quality information to individuals or couples, both online and in person.
That could include just answering some questions, to setting up a scene and instructing someone, to ongoing back-and-forth over a long period of time.
How do you personally identify within the community? Has this stance had any impact on your work/career?
In the last two decades, I’ve been a 24/7 slave to two professional dominatrices, and I’ve owned several slaves. I’ve played on both sides of the whip over the years, and I’m comfortable in both roles. However, I do not see myself as a switch.
In every case, depending on who I was with, I’ve been one role or the other. There was no switching involved. I do monogamous long-term relationships. I’m not sure that any label nails what I am, because depending on who I’m with, I’m 100% that role.
When I was starting out, I was mostly submissive. Now I’m exclusively dominant, but if I met the right woman…
I think playing both roles has given me a broad understanding of the community and the kink experience. It deeply informs everything I do in my career.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge the community faces at the moment? What do you think should be done to help with this?
The biggest challenge for the community is fighting the misconceptions and inaccuracies from within and from the outside. Only good information and open discussions will solve this.
How does your work help with reducing this?
I’ve been at this a long time. I’ve built quite a following and a bunch of connections in the community. I do my best to use that platform to share my experiences and the insight I’ve gained through art, photography, writing, podcasts, and mentoring.
Can you give some advice to D types? To s types?
For D types:
Don’t take yourself too seriously. I completely understand what it’s like to have someone, or several someones, hanging on your every word. That’s not just power, that’s responsibility. You should respect that, and it should make you very humble.
For s types:
Be careful. Don’t ever get so caught up in someone that you lose track of who you are, or how valuable you are. If the dominant that you’re following is not making you a better person, they are doing it wrong.
What are in your opinion the best communication and negotiation techniques?
Whether you’re just going to play for one scene, or you’re going to play for a lifetime, you have to take a step back from your roles for a bit, and speak as honestly to each other as possible.
If you’re telling someone what you think they want to hear, then that could lead to hurt feelings, awkwardness, or much worse.
Just be honest and keep an open mind. And don’t rush things. Good communication makes everything better. It’s worth taking your time.
What is the best advice you can give to those who are new in the community?
I know it’s exciting, and crazy, and fun. But I can’t tell you how many people jump into this with the wrong person, and ruin their first experience. It’s a LOT. For some of those people they figure it out and get back on the horse. For others, they leave before they get started, and then regret it for the rest of their lives.
Read tons. There’s a lot of information out there now. Don’t just read stuff on the internet. Get a hold of some good books on the subject and educate yourself.
Also, I would highly suggest joining a local group, and bring a friend, even if they are vanilla. Don’t tell everyone what your role is yet (especially if it’s submissive). Watch what happens. See how people interact with each other. Ask a trillion questions (away from the action).
When you’ve found someone you want to play with, then make sure they know you’re new. Listen to what they ask you. Listen to how they answer your questions. If their answers are open and honest, and you like what they say, then take the leap. But if you feel like it’s not the right person, or not the right time, then wait. A good member of the community will understand.
What would you say makes for a great writer? Do you have any advice for how to hone one’s writing craft?
The answer to what makes for a great writer and how to hone your craft are exactly the same answer. Write.
About four years ago I started writing between 300 and 1000 words almost every day. The more I wrote, the easier it got. The more I wrote, the better I got. I found my style and I found my groove.
What helped me so much was writing for Quora.com. No matter what you’re into, there are hundreds of questions that need good answers. Those writing prompts gave me an easy place to start. The dedication to writing regularly took away any fear I had about “how good it would be.” And the constant feedback, in the way of upvotes and comments, improved my writing overall.
Can you elaborate more on your podcasts? How do these differ from your other endeavors?
I started podcasting in 2005, long before it was a big thing. I was attracted to the intimate and engaging nature of audio.
Since then I’ve recorded 100s of hours of work including a podcast station called Couch Pirates that covered everything from professional wrestling, to politics, to geek culture. Princess Zoe and I did The Fetish Show for about five years, and talked with some of the coolest people in the BDSM and Fetish Community (and had a lot of fun). More recently, I’ve started a five-minute podcast called The Dirk Side that focuses on positive stories, inspiration, and self-help.
I see podcasting as just another extension of what I do elsewhere. It’s always about information, education, and entertainment.
I’m close to launching one or two more podcasts, and maybe a series of video interviews.
I know you are also a consultant. Could you tell our readers more about that and what services you offer? What is unique about what you can offer your clients?
I’m the owner/consultant for Sexy Networking, which is a business I’ve set up to help with personal branding, social media management, copywriting, web design, SEO, and marketing for people who speak to an adult audience. That includes professional dominatrices, cam and fetish models, adult entertainers, escorts, erotic artists, and writers.
What’s unique about what I offer my clients is 20 years of experience in marketing and branding adult services. I’ve been intimately involved with creating personas and business plans, communicating with the public, and doing writing and design work for people in the Kink Community.
Very few people can match both my time in the community, and my real-time experience doing the work in the trenches to build successful brands over the past two decades.
What new projects are you currently working on?
I just completed a big redesign of my personal photography site. With that done, I’m going to be launching or re-launching several projects that will appear on www.DirkHooper.com.
I’m also looking to do more travel across the United States, and eventually the world, to offer my photography services. I’m not ready to make an announcement yet, but that’s going to open some opportunities to do a big multi-year project that could be a lot of fun.
Over the past three years, I’ve rediscovered my passion for creating erotic illustrations, and I’m going to be gearing that up.
Finally, I’m close… so close, to finishing my first erotic BDSM novel. When that’s done, I’ve got a non-fiction book that’s coming next, and a science-fiction/fantasy/action novel that’s going to be a blast!
Any closing words?
I just want to say thanks for this interview. I consider myself very lucky to have found a community that I dearly love, and I always appreciate the opportunity to share my story.
Please check out my stuff!
About Dirk Hooper:
Dirk Hooper is an award-winning fetish photographer, professional writer, audiobook narrator, podcasting producer and host, journalist for the fetish community, BDSM mentor, and adult personal branding and marketing consultant for Sexy Networking.
Dirk Hooper won Best Fetish Photographer at the 2017 Fetish Awards in St. Petersburg Florida. As a fine-art fetish photographer, Hooper’s work has been exhibited in England, the Netherlands, Belgium, China and all over the United States. His work is part of the permanent collections of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Dirk Hooper’s work has been published in magazines like Skin Two, Von Gutenberg, Fet Erotica and Sinical Magazine. His work was published in the German hardcover art book “Fetish Fantasies: The Best of International Fetish Photography.” He has done professional photography for bands, books, posters and the adult film industry. Hooper co-founded the alternative modeling site Toxic Goddess. He offers his photography services for portraits and commercial projects.
Hooper’s articles have recently been published at Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, HuffPost, Slate Magazine, The Sporting News, MSN Sport, and Quartz. He has won the Quora Top Writer award for the past two years. He has also been published as a comic writer, a poet, and performed numerous copywriting assignments for professional and private clients. He is currently working on an erotic novel and a non-fiction book about social networking.
Dirk Hooper is the Host and Executive Producer of “The Fetish Show.” He has also recently launched a new podcast about success and inspiration titled, “The Dirk Side.” Hooper has been podcasting since 2005 and has produced hundreds of hours of shows over several networks. His first audiobook narration was for the Suzanne Steele novel “Glazov.”
Dirk Hooper does journalism for the BDSM and fetish community through The Fetish Show News, FETISHWEEK articles, the Daily Fetish Chronicle and freelance writing. Hooper’s award-winning website, http://www.DirkHooper.com features a gallery of his work, informational articles and is the home of “FETISHWEEK.”
Hooper’s inspiration for his work is an extension of his interests and experience in the BDSM and fetish community. He is a BDSM mentor and has helped guide or train both dominants and submissives.
Hooper works as a consultant on personal branding, social networking, SEO, copywriting, design and marketing through his Sexy Networking business at http://SexyNetworking.com.