Hope you are all having fun at the moment. I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know what’s happening at SilkSoles.
It has been an odd year for us. Last autumn we got the tap on the shoulder from the then-censor-of-the-internet in the UK, ATVOD, telling us that there had been “complaints” about our bondage site Restrained Elegance and that they were going to investigate us. I’ll eat my hat if there was a genuine complaint from a genuine member of the public- they were investigating us because we’d spoken up about the censorship.
We weren’t going to go quietly but the possibility existed that we might get shut down. That would obviously have a drastic effect on us being able to make a living so we had to put contingency plans in place.
Cue Hywel frantically making preparations for converting his landscape photography in the mountains hobby into a possible business, agreeing to be in documentaries despite being a weapons-grade introvert, and generally shaking up the business.
None of this was supposed to have any direct impact on SilkSoles, which even the prudes at ATVOD could probably not find a reason to ban. But the indirect and knock on effects would have been considerable.
I’m probably not supposed to admit this in public but Silk Soles isn’t really a business. The sales have never justified the time and energy and money we put into it. The best it has done so far is to break even excluding my time and expenses. I keep shooting because I love it, and at least the site has covered the modelling fees.
I love telling stories about beautiful barefoot girls. I love the creative freedom it gives when the model isn’t tied up, which is one thing that provides the contrast with my “day job”. Fewer safety issues, faster to shoot, and I can just have fun with new ideas. If I think of a new lighting pattern to try, I don’t have to worry about getting it right while the clock is ticking on a tied-up girl who will have to be let out soon. I really enjoy shooting for Silk Soles!
But it’s probably cost me thousands of pounds over the years if one is to be brutal looking at the numbers. This is why we stopped the video updates last year- videos take a lot longer to shoot and edit than stills do. I was a bit burned out on video anyway with the increase in the amount of customs we were shooting. Silk Soles sales didn’t justify carrying on with a weekly video update, especially not in the absence of stories I wanted to tell. I love the videos we’d shot, but wasn’t coming up with ideas I really needed to shoot.
Silk Soles piggy-backs on Restrained Elegance for facilities- for example, the web hosting. Silk Soles gets its hosting for free because I run Restrained Elegance. If RE were to close down, SilkSoles would have to pay its own way, and make enough money for me to live on.
I know I’ve not spent the time promoting Silk Soles that it deserves, but nothing indicated that I was going to be able to multiply the membership by the factor of ten it would need to get to be a self-sustaining business that would let me pay the bills.
Hence the landscape photography franticness.
And hence the decision taken six months ago to stop shooting for SilkSoles, waiting to see what would happen, running down the stock of shot sets.
And also it must be admitted waiting to see if the inspiration would come back. I’d almost decided to stop updating Silk Soles completely and leave it as an archive site. A tough decision…
And a decision which I’m very pleased to tell you was completely wrong and which has as of this week been reversed in real style with shoots with Aria Wednesday, Faye Taylor, Claire Topaz, Tillie, commissioned shoots from my friend in Russia, and bookings to come with Ayla Rose, Ariel Anderssen, Sophia Smith and many more.
It feels GREAT, a new lease of life. For the site, and for me too. Really enjoyed the shoots this week, both the bondage and the foot fetish sets. I’ve got a new framing idea (stills sets as character portraits) that’s got me filling up my notebooks with ideas again. New ways of shooting, facilitated by finally owning a camera and lens combo that really works in available light. New light formers for shoots too. The latest newcomer, an octobox with fabric grid, immediately gained a permanent place in my travel kit bag and was fondly christened Doctor Octobox by visiting intern Philippa Clarke (who had a lot of fun shooting Silk Soles sets while she was here too). I’ve got shoots in the calendar which I can’t wait to get to- for the last six months I’d been dreading shoots because I was so drained of ideas.
I’m getting my mojo back after a year of what amounts to creative depression in the shadow of censorship. Never let anyone tell you censorship doesn’t matter: it bloody sucks. You start questioning everything about your work and your validity as an artist, and that’s insta-death for inspiration.
Somehow, coincidentally, there’s been an up-tick in signups to the site. Maybe it’s to do with us being on Kinky Britain, maybe some publicity posts have gone up somewhere, I’m not sure. But hello lovely new members, it is great to see you, and I hope you will enjoy the new stuff as much as we’ve enjoying shooting it for you. I’m hoping we can convince you to stay around- with a few more people sharing the expenses, we can shoot more ambitious stuff!
In celebration, I’m going to put up the first video in a long while- a very intense and sexual foot worship film starring Ariel Anderssen and Zoe Page which was commissioned as a custom video a few months ago. The first part will be up on Thursday. I do have a few other videos on disk which I never got around to editing- I’ll put them up over the next few months. I can’t promise a regular video update schedule, but right now I’m feeling very fired up and inspired, so who knows? Some of that may spill over from shooting stills to shooting more videos too.
I’m backing down the number of custom bondage videos we shoot for the next few months (because I’ve got a bunch of my own ideas I’m really burning to shoot) but if you wanted a foot fetish custom, now would be a great time to commission one. Email me if you are interested. And the more the merrier on the membership- if numbers are sustained, we can go back into at least semi-regular video production for the site as well.
I’ll leave you with a few teasers of what we shot over the last couple of weeks- these sets will be up on the site in the coming weeks!
All the best
Hywel Phillips (webmaster and photographer)