Lockdown shooting for RestrainedElegance.com

UPDATE: 2nd June 2020

Hello lovely models! It has been fantastic having so many of you send in “Lockdown selfie” photosets and videos!

The only thing that has been stressing me out is having to decide whether a set merits the “pro” level of payment or just the “selfie” one. As a result I’ve decided to just pay a flat rate of £125 per set or video rather than different rates for the two. I hope that’s OK. I’ve modified the post below accordingly. For the moment I’ve probably got enough of the selfie-style sets so am primarily looking for sets with full bondage.

Cheers, Hywel

Original Post:

Dear Models! This message is for you!

We have a year or more’s content for RestrainedElegance.com, so we’re doing OK: we can get by without shooting until mid-2021 if need be.

Nonetheless, it feels like a good thing to keep content coming in and so I’d love to commission some self-shot videos and photosets from you whilst we are all in lockdown if it sounds interesting and fun to you.

Ariel and I are locked down together as model and rigger/camera-operator team and a house full of bondage gear and pro cinema cameras. We know that few of you are fortunate enough to be in that situation. So we understand that what you can shoot for us will be limited by what (and who) you have around.

Self shot or “Pro”?

I’m looking to commission the following: (UPDATE 02/06/2020 – rates are the same for both)

1) Self-shot set: £125 UK pounds.

10-15 minute video clip or 75-100 still photos. I understand that this might have to be very bondage-light. See below for ideas, although I have quite a lot of these now so I am primarily looking for sets with full bondage.

2) “Pro” shot set with camera operator/rigger, full bondage and nice lighting: £125 UK pounds.

10-15 minute video clip or 75-100 still photos.

Shooting safely

You staying safe is the most important thing, especially if you are shooting on your own. Make sure your phone is to hand, turn on Siri (or whatever the Android equivalent is) so you call for help if you get stuck. It’s only a fun BDSM porn clip, don’t put yourself at any risk.

Solo ideas

If you are confident to self-rig a big old bondage set by all means go ahead. But for the self-shot sets it would be fine to…

  • Use handcuffs on wrists and ankles, with hands in front. Test the keys first!
  • Tie your ankles and knees with rope, then talk to camera about how much you want someone to come and tie your hands
  • Wrap silk scarves around ankles and wrists
  • Pose in as many bondage positions as you can think of while talking about how great it will be when you can get properly hogtied again
  • Play with and try out various different gags
  • Do a dom-sub video with you on your knees and saying how you will serve
  • A self-spanking or self-bastinado clip – don’t need bondage for that! A riding crop can work wonders
  • Dripping hot wax on yourself from a (cool-burning) candle. Be safe and do it on a non-flammable surface like in the bath, not on polyester bed sheets, please!
  • JOI about how the viewer would tie you and take you and all the things they could do to you
  • Talk about your bondage fantasies or a lie-back-and-dream bondage daydream or reminiscing about a hot bondage experience
  • A taunt-and-torment clip which starts off with you being a very unpleasant domme to the camera but switches half-way through as you’ve been captured and now are being forced to be a sex slave to the camera
  • Nude-in-metal bondage gear review trying on several different items (eg a few sets of handcuffs and a couple of gags
  • Masturbation scene imagining being tied up or being used as a sex slave or being whipped – I’m too shy to direct this normally but it would be fun to see what you can create!
  • A foot fetish soles of feet tease show whilst talking about how maybe if the viewer got their hands on you they’d tie you up and do wicked things to you

If you prefer to work from a script let me know what sort of bondage items you have around to play with (including “none”, if we have to we’ll get really inventive). I will write a script accordingly.

If you’re up for it I’d also LOVE to see what you can come up with taking the above as inspiration and knowing the RE shooting style.

Styling and Clothes

If you’ve shot for RE before, you’ll know that the aim is very elegant stuff, as pretty as you can make it. I’m not expecting Hollywood: the ring-light is your friend. Just make it as glam as you can.

Nude is always welcome, but silk and satin or cocktail dresses or maid outfits or secretaries or fantasy princess or anything you like to support a story as long as it is glam and elegant. Stripping off part way through is great.

You must be barefoot and show off soles of feet to camera for at least some of the clip. If you start wearing stockings or shoes they need to come off in the first minute or two. No opaques or ghastly socks (that means YOU, Sophia! 🙂 )

Closeups and Different Shots

I’d like to avoid long clips all shot at the same camera angle- however compelling the content it doesn’t look as interesting without something changing visually. So please change angle a few times during the video if at all possible.

Closeups are great – details of bondage, details of gags and some shots of soles of feet. A few 30 second closeups go a long way to breaking up selfie-shot stuff. You don’t even have to move the camera, just come close and show off the bondage or the gag (especially if your camera can focus really close).

4K formats and Techie Stuff

Please shoot in 4K if available. If you can send me the video files straight out of camera that would be best, but if the files are too big I can take them as eg 4K resolution 10 Mbps bitrate MP4 (which is what the final output for the site will be).

I’m happy to edit and grade the clips or you can edit before sending if you prefer.

If shooting stills, send me RAW files if available, otherwise the highest resolution JPGs you can produce.

“But my camera isn’t up to it!” – as long as it shoots at least 1080p HD or preferably 4K, it is. The photo at the top of this page was taken on my iPhone. I’m after your hot ideas, I know that it is not going to look like a regular RE clip.

Rights

For the payment you are granting me the exclusive rights to sell the sets/clips for RestrainedElegance.com. These clips are for my site, not for your Clips4Sale or OnlyFans, which is why I am paying for them.

It’s fine to shoot OnlyFans as a behind the scenes of you shooting it, of course, especially if you’d be kind enough to let your fans know that the final video will be up on RestrainedElegance.com.

I’ll send you a sale of rights agreement via DocuSign for you to sign and return with the exact wording. (I won’t put it all up here – it’s the same stuff as the RE model release).

Does This Sound Fun?

If this sounds fun and suggests an idea to you, I’d love to see you film it for us!

As I said we have plenty of content so only shoot if you have a cool idea and can fit it in.

The Infinite Multi-Dimensional Space of Human Beings (and thoughts on equality)

Hi All,

Fair warning: this is another politics-and-equality-related ramble. If you’re here for the BDSM, probably wise to skip it. I wrote and didn’t publish this ages ago. But as UK politics has descended further and further into the sewers of othering us-and-them, I thought there were a few ideas worth sharing.

I am no expert in biology, genetics, sociology, psychology, ethics or any of the other areas this touches upon. I’m happy to be corrected, debated, challenged and ridiculed – just kindly keep it civil and remember the golden rule.

The one concept I think is really important is the Infinite Dimensioned Multi-variate space of human beings. What the hell is that when it is at home?

The Infinite Multi-Dimensional Space Of Human Beings

There are an infinite possible number of ways of measuring, describing or classifying people. You could measure their height. You could ask how old they is, what colour their hair is. Some stuff would be trivial, like “People wearing blue socks”. Some will be different ways of measuring the same thing: like date and time of birth, which directly tells you how old someone is when you know the current date and time. But these seemingly redundant measurements are fine, because they are useful for different things. Age is constantly changing but date and time of birth are fixed for a particular person, for example. So sometimes we might find it easier to figure out information by asking about age, other time about date of birth.

We can represent people on a huge number of different axes representing different things about them. An infinite number of axes, in fact, because there’s an infinite number of possible things we could try to measure. I like to envisage this as a huge blobby glowy green cloud in some strange mathematical space somewhere, with individual people glowing like dots in the Cerebro in X-Men.

Axiom: Each of these human beings is completely individual. No two people are alike- even identical twins. You can see that to be true in a trivial sense by including the variable of “occupying the physical volume located at” to describe the person. Identical twins don’t occupy the same physical space, and even conjoined twins don’t occupy ALL the same physical space- if they did they wouldn’t be twins, they’d be one person.

It is also true in the non-trivial sense that not everything about identical twins and conjoined twins is the same. Very similar – even to the extent of sharing the same genome or part of the same physical body- but not actually the same. One can die while the other lives, and “alive or dead” is a pretty important variable in describing the status of any a human being.

All measurements are messy, so we have to combine for usefulness

Some things are relatively easy to define and measure, like height. Even though it changes for an individual throughout their life, at any given time a human being takes up a certain amount of physical space in the y-dimension.

Even here I’m thinking of possible exceptions even to this rule- there might be rare cases where for some reason it might be hard to measure, such as in the case of an extreme stoop, so you might have to be careful in your definition!

But that’s OK. We’re in the infinite multi-dimensional space of “possible ways of describing a human being”. It’s always OK to chuck another dimension in. It might tell us something new or it might not. Doesn’t matter, just chuck it in. Star sign, for example. Probably doesn’t mean much. Definitely doesn’t meaningfully split people into 12 groups in a useful way. But still might influence people – not least because people who believe in astrology might tend to act more in the way they think they are “supposed” to by their star sign. It’s all fine, chuck in the variable. We can see if it is actually useful when we start to ask questions.

Height

Each measurement system you use is just another variable, another one of infinite directions in this space. Measured distance from flats of feet to top of head while standing, is one variable. Measured distance from tips of toes to furthest point from that whilst lying down with arms lowered is a second.

Whatever definition we choose, whichever variable, there is a distribution of the population of human beings along these axes. Each individual is a single glowing point in this space, but you can see the shape of the landscape around them – how are other human beings distributed through this space?

Some of variables will be so highly correlated as to be almost identical.

Most sensible ways you could think of to measure height, for most people most of the time, will put that person at about the same point in the distribution of human beings.

The height you measure for a whole bunch of people lying down and measuring from the tips of their toes to the furthest distance from that point is probably almost 100% correlated with what you measure doing flats of feet to top of head whilst standing for them.

The actual numbers for these two different ways of height might be different- gravity squashes us progressively through the day, so measuring “stand up straight” height in the evening might well give a smaller absolute number in metres and centimetres than that same person’s “lying down extent” measurement. And those differences might vary from person to person: an older, taller man might get squashed more during the day than a younger, shorter girl, say.

But someone who is “tall” by one measure is very likely “tall” by other measures too.

There will be exceptions, like people who are unable to stand upright. One measurement might give a misleading figure for some people, or might not even have a well-defined value for some individuals.

That’s fine- that’s why we look at a LOT of variables. We can look at as many we like, and see if any happen to be of use in understanding anything about humans.

This cluster of variables (ways of measuring vertical extent of human beings) is so tightly correlated, so clustered and so nicely in correspondence to the every-day experience of most of us that we’ve got a non-technical term for it which does fine for discussion most of the time. We call it “height”.

We only need delve back into the technical details of its definitions if we encounter an edge case. Like, say, Stephen Hawking. How tall was he, towards the end of his life, given that he couldn’t actually “stand up straight” for a regular height measurement?

Let’s not forget that those technicalities are there as we move on to other, messier, less-easy-to-define things. This may seem like nit-picking to you but for people with certain medical conditions it might be a frequent annoyance, dealing with inappropriate or contradictory measurement schemes for height.

I don’t know whether that’s actually the case for any individual human beings out there, but I can imagine that it could be in principle. And as we move on to other variables we’ll see that forgetting these measurement distinctions can lead to very serious consequences for individual human beings, when the generalisations don’t fit the specific circumstances of the person. (“What do you mean, can’t enter your standard height on the medical form because you can’t stand up to measure it, Professor Hawking?”)

Messier Variables

Other things have “everyday” terms but turn out to be more complex – like sex.

There are a significant number of human beings with external genitals which include both “male” and “female” aspects, internal genital differentials likewise. You can’t use chromosome makeup to define it either (there are people with X0 – only one X chromosome; XXY, Androgen insensitivity syndrome, and many more characteristics which are now broadly described as intersex, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex).

But for the sake of argument let’s accept that one can at least define a whole bunch of variables like genitalia and chromosome makeup, on which human beings fall along a multi-dimensional distribution, and which have strongly correlated clusters.

We should be VERY careful about making generalisations which exclude human beings in rare parts of the distributions of these variables- while rare, there are many many millions of human beings with these characteristics which we think of as “intersex”, or intermediate between “male” and “female”.
Remember that some people might not even appear on some axes in the space at all- like in the variable “XX or XY chromosome”, where someone with XXY or X0 doesn’t appear at all because it is not relevant to their situation.

However mindful we are not to ignore those millions of human beings, it remains the case that in making any headway at all about thinking about the distribution of traits and characteristics of human beings we inevitably end up speaking of “men” and “women” or “male” and “female” human beings, in every culture and every time.

A lot of problems come about for people who happen to lie at intermediate points on the variables when we forget that these are all distributions. There is no such thing as a “man” or a “woman”, even less so a “typical man” or “typical woman”!

There are only individual human beings with a spate of characteristics that happen to lie pretty close to the centre of a cluster in multi-variable space that for reasons of practicality, brevity and laziness, we often label as “male” or “man” or “female” or “woman”.

Sex and Gender

If you’re up on your terminology, you might have been bristling in that last section that I’ve mentioned “sex”, “male”, “female”, “man” and “woman” but not gender, trans or queer.

The use of these words has been adopted exactly because of what I was just talking about- the realisation that there are many more variables that should be examined, and a lot of them are at least as important to the human beings concerned as their physical body characteristics.

Gender is used to refer to socially constructed roles, behaviours and attributes, as distinct from the body characteristic ones.

This distinction is very useful in reminding us that there are many, many variables we could look at, and that correlations between them are very rarely perfect.

But it isn’t enough, and we should step back every so often to make sure we’re not doing the “what is your standard height, Professor Hawking” thing.

Some factors will correlate quite closely for large fractions of the population between sex and gender, some will correlate less strongly, some not at all, and for all variables there will very likely be some fraction of individual humans who buck the trend and lie in unusual parts of multi-dimensional space- and we should be careful to remember that, too.

Terms we use for groups of people have no inherent meaning

This is a vital realisation which comes from this picture. There is NO precise and reliable definition for “female” or “man”. Every human being occupies a unique place in the multi-variable space.

They might cluster quite closely together with other humans in bunches in some variables- like having XY chromosomes and a functioning penis. That might even go along with other variables, like liking Rugby football, a lot of the time in some places for some subset of human beings.

But that does NOT mean that “MEN LIKE RUGBY”. “Men” don’t do anything or like anything. “Man” is not a complete or precise or reliable definition of any individual human being, and it most certainly isn’t enough to specify where they sit on all these infinite number of axes!

The terms “Men” and “Women” are useful because in some projections of this multivariable space, looking at a few variables at a time, we observe that very many human beings fall into one of two broad clusters.

So in line with common terminology, like “height” as a short-cut for the cluster of vertical extent measurement techniques, we’re just agreeing to use them as a short-hand which works a lot of the time.

We really must not mistake the label for the person!

This is super, super important.

No two “men” are alike, any more than no two identical twins are actually alike. Two people will be close to each other in some variables, and at opposite ends of the spectrum in other variables. I am quite like a stereotypical man in having a functioning penis.

I am unlike the stereotypical man at least in my local culture by finding team sports in general and Rugby football in particular entirely tedious.

And in some other variables, like liking vs. hating the taste of coffee, it might be that my position on the functioning penis variable may have no bearing at all. (I have no idea whether people with penises are more or less likely to enjoy coffee that those without).

As an individual human being, I’ll be in my own place in this huge multi-dimensional space. Close to one end of some distributions (how introverted I am), entirely boringly typical in a lot of other distributions (my height is distinctly average).

Here’s a diagram to summarise all of that:

The big green blobby thing is the multivariate space of all human beings alive today.

The red dot is Hywel’s spot in the multiverse. That’s me.

If you want to know where I sit along one of the infinite number of variables, you have to “project out” along that axis. We confine our view from infinite dimensions, down to just one. We look along that axis, and for each human being alive today, we add a little “blip”.

That lets us plot a histogram, which are the black graphs. Each histogram shows the number of people with a certain value of the variable we’ve projected out along. The green curve shows the distribution of all human beings alive on that single axis.

Let’s look at the two bottom right graphs first. These are the “standing straight height” and “lying down extent” distributions. I’ve drawn in some wibbly wobbly line to represent what we’d find if we actually made this plot for all human beings alive.

If you look a certain way along the horizontal axis, you’d find a specific height in metres, say 1.75 m or about 5 foot 9 inches. The green curve tells you how many human beings alive today have that height.*

*(Two minor technical points- strictly speaking you have to specify the number of people in a RANGE of heights, say from 1.75 to 1.76 m, when making this sort of plot, and you can either choose to have the absolute number of human beings as the green curve, or you could divide by the total number of people and have the fraction of people with that height. But the basic idea is the higher the green curve, the larger the fraction of people with that height).

I’ve drawn myself, my own little +1 human blip, to the 1.75 m point. This puts me pretty much bang at the average height for adult men where I live, and is why I drew the wibbles in the green curve to have a peak around there. It’s only a sketch, we’d have to look at the real distribution to get proper information.

I also drew a second bump lower down, to represent the observation that women are on average shorter than men. There is a tail down to almost zero height, but I should have drawn it more carefully because there’s a minimum viable height for a living (and already born) human being, so there should really be more of a cut-off at the lower end. There’s a tail off to bigger heights to, and there is a maximum height- at the time of writing thought to be Sultan, who is 2.465 m tall (8ft 1in).

Underneath the “stand straight height” I drew the “lying down extent” measurement, which has almost an identical shape, with me in the corresponding place. These are almost but not quite the same distributions, and the correlation between them is extremely high- if someone is tall by one measure, they are very likely indeed to be tall by other measures, too.

Then I’ve drawn a few other projections for variables we’ve talked about. It’s not clear how we’d quantify something like “Having a fully-functioning penis” but that’s OK- think up some reasonable proxy measurement, or a group of them, and we’ll get the basic idea.

I’ve drawn this peculiar variable with a couple of peaks, one to represent “women” (no functioning penis), one to represent “men” (human beings with a functioning penis) and with some vague tails to represent erectile disfunction, accidents, prostate patients, intersex people and so on. There I am, someplace around the “fully functioning penis” peak of the distribution. Yay me.

Above it is the “XX – XY chromosome” variable, whatever measurement technique we use to put that into our multidimensional space. Two peaks, one for people with XX, one for people with XY, and importantly millions of people who don’t appear on this projection at all because they don’t possess either of those binary options and are therefore cannot be shown in this particular projection. This doesn’t make them non-people, and erasing them does them a massive disservice.

If we looked at the correlation between “functioning penis” and “XX-XY” we’d again see a pretty strong correlation, as we did with the two different height measurement techniques.

(As an aside here if you’re not familiar with the idea of correlation and the difference between correlation and cause, now might be a good time for a quick wikipedia break:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_and_dependence
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation
)

Perhaps surprisingly, we’d find the correlation was way weaker than between the two methods of measuring height. It’s actually quite hard to think up ways in which sensible ways of measuring height would come up with radically different answers for the same human being. But there are plenty of ways someone with an XY chromosome might end up without a functioning penis. Accident or infirmity or elective surgery or temporary impotence. (You might improve the correlation by choosing a slightly different variable, like “have at one time had a functioning penis”).

In the cloud around the diagram I’ve sketched a few other variables and plotted myself on them, like love vs. hate coffee and love vs. hate Rugby. I’ve totally made up the statistics- I have no idea either how one would measure these or what the distribution of the world population would be like if you did. Deceptively simple variables like these hide plenty of “What is your height, Professor Hawking”? traps too- some blessed fraction of the world’s population wouldn’t appear on the love vs. hate Rugby plot at all, by virtue of never having been exposed to the wretched game in the first place.

And One More Thing

Notice the innocuous little graph at the top right which I’ve called “skin tone”. Let’s say that we come up with some measurement for human skin tone. Something to do with amount of melatonin in the skin, or reflectivity tested with a colour reflectance meter, or position on a printed colour chart. As before what we really have to do is to use all of those variables, and many more besides, because none of the measurements are quite the same and there are always reasons why a few individuals might not appear or be in a surprising place even if the measurements are highly correlated.

I’ve drawn a wibbly green line with me at a random position on it.

Race isn’t a real thing. It’s impossible to define in any meaningful way that stands up to the slightest scrutiny. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brief-History-Everyone-Ever-Lived/dp/0297609378.

Differences and Similarities between people

Right, now we have our infinite dimensioned space of all human beings. How can we assess differences and similarities between people? And can that tell us anything about equality?

Well, it’s tricky. We can see that people could be clustered together in lots and lots of ways. People with fully-functioning penises are very likely to have XY chromosomes… and people without functioning penises are very likely to have XX chromosomes. But people without functioning penises who once did have functioning penises are very likely to have XY chromosomes. It gets complicated really quickly when you start zooming in, because individual humans can pop in unexpected pockets in the distributions which don’t show up until you start to look at things in detail.

We do notice definite clustering effects. The vast majority of human beings fall into either the XY or XX chromosome peaks (even though there are millions of people who do not). And a LOT of other things genuinely do tend to be correlated with that.

This is where the “sex is a real thing” folks come in, and in one sense they do have a point. Observably, looking at the whole population, there are clear trends which cluster strongly together.

For example, the average height of people found in the XY peak in that dimension is greater than the average height of people found in the XX peak. “Men tend to be taller than women”, we generalise. Oh, you probably huff in annoyance at this point. “We bloody knew that! 3000+ words to get that far!”

But here’s the thing. “Men tend to be taller than women” hides an awful lot of edge case stuff going on. Like the exact definition of height (a bit trivial, I’ll admit) or the exact definition of a man (not at all trivial, as the existence of many millions of non XX/XY human beings and people with only partially functioning penises and all the rest of it attest).

Furthermore, it leads to dangerous generalisations because it ignores other factors which may be very relevant- like what country that person is from. The average height of women from the Netherlands is around 1.70 m, whereas the average height of men from Nepal is 1.63m. So the average Dutch woman is actually taller than the average Nepali man! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_average_human_height_worldwide.

This swiftly leads into even more dangerous thinking if we get lazy and say “men are taller than women”. “Men” aren’t anything, but even taking “the cluster of humans around XY” as a proxy, it tells you nothing at all about the height of any specific, individual human being in the world. I am a very prosaic 1.75 m or so tall; my wife is a fine and upstanding 1.89 m or thereabouts.

So an individual tall woman can be taller than an individual short man or she can be taller than the average for XY humans or whatever. Her possession of XX chromosomes and lack of penis might lead us to venture a statistical guess that she is LIKELY, statistically, to be shorter than the average XY. But in the case of any individual human being, that might well be totally wrong.

We may know that intellectually, but we drift into magical thinking and stereotyping so easily that this rapidly drifts into “men SHOULD be taller than women”, which is one of the reasons that Ariel and I get stares when we go out on dates together. And this sort of “ought to be” authoritarian thinking seeps into culture and makes tall women think that they “ought” to go out with a man who is taller than them, so they don’t feel like “the man”. (I’ve put it that way around rather than the converse because Ariel has expressed feeling that pressure, whereas I haven’t really experienced the “you’re too short to be with that woman” pressure that I’m conscious of. I just sometimes get taken to be her elderly relative rather than her husband, despite us only differing in age by about 15%).

And there are a LOT of variables. No human being will be “typical” of any cluster they happen to fall into in all of the variables. Very likely, because there are so many possible variables, there will be at least some where they are notably different from other humans who fall into a cluster with them in other variables. (Like me and Rugby).

In fact there is no unique single way to decide how alike two people are (technically, you’d have to define a “metric” – a co-ordinate system which tells you how to add up a difference in variables which are entirely dissimilar. Like XX-vs-XY (which is basically binary and excludes a bunch of people) – how do you “add” a difference in that to a difference in height or in loving coffee?

There’s no unique way to define how different people are, as a corollary. How far apart, and on which variables, do you need to be as an intersex person before you fall outside the “male” cluster? There is no universal answer, only an arbitrary choice of distance metric trying to squeeze an individual human being into an artificially defined category which might simply not be any sort of fit at all.

Sex is real? There are some broad features showing clusters of individual human beings in some axes, yes. But that tells you NOTHING about any particular individual person you might meet and thinking that it will is lazy thinking – so much so as to be extremely dangerous.

Equality

As an illustrative example I’d like to talk about equality in the workplace, starting with sexual equality.

Women currently make up just 5% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. http://fortune.com/2018/05/21/women-fortune-500-2018/

This is surely an egregious example of sexual inequality and discrimination.

It very likely is. But my question is – how do we know? If we are to take remedial action- which we probably should- should we not have some sort of metric by which we judge our success? It would be nice to be able to say we’ve made progress.

One’s first instinct is to say “well, women are 50% of the population, so it should be 50%”.

Indeed, as a starting place I’ll probably agree with you. But probably not for the reasons you think.

The reason I’ll agree with you is that until very recently, by authoritarian dictat the fraction of women in these jobs was artificially forced to be 0. The operational definition of “women” here is anyone who the people in charge say are women, correlated very strongly with most of “conventional” definitions like XX/have a vagina/present socially as female within that culture.

In an ideal world, the variable “is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company” would be very strongly related to the variable “competence and skill at running a Fortune 500 company”.

We have no actual idea what fraction of human beings have the competence and skill to run a Fortune 500 company. We have no idea how that correlates with XY/XX, penis/vagina, or any other variables which we’ll shortcut to “man/woman” at this point.

All we know is that regardless of competence and skill, until very recently the chance of a woman being CEO of a Fortune 500 company was artificially forced to be zero.

What is the “ideal” number? Well, it depends on the far tails of a distribution of skill at running a large company, I guess. Not very many human beings have that skill, and we have no idea whether of those people at the far upper end of that distribution all the human beings are men, or all women, or a mix of both, or what the ratio is. The force of history means we’ve never allowed that experiment to even be tried.

It might be that the traits which make one a good CEO correlate so strongly with being an XY that all the people at that end of the distribution are men, in the way that all the really, really, really tallest of the tall people in the world are men.

Or it might be that it correlates so strongly with being a woman that this is an injustice and inefficiency of truly mind-blowing proportions and 99% of the CEOs ought to be women. Or maybe people who have some combination of both might be masterful CEOs if only given the chance. It could be that a small group of people who are intersex should be running the show. Or people who display some of the suite of characteristics we label as “Asperger’s”.

It might well be a lot more complicated than that, because it could depend on situational factors… a fairly compelling example being the possibility that women might perform better if there are a certain fraction of other women around in the company, and worse if a different fraction of women. Margaret Thatcher and the male cabinet ministers, or a more collegiate style working which is reputed to come about in some female-led workplaces. Some people who fit broadly in the “women” cluster might do very well if surrounded by other people in the “women” cluster; others might do really badly but might shine if totally surrounded by yes-“men”. We just don’t know.

So the answer is very complex. Getting a 50% ratio in a few decades time doesn’t mean it is right or we are done; we still may not know what the “ideal meritocracy” solution number is. So it is very difficult indeed to know whether or not we’re granting equality.

It’s an absolute bastard of a problem!

Worse, it allows Snorting John the male chauvinist arse to make unwarranted claims about “It’s a man’s job love get back in the kitchen” and all the rest of the endless fuckwittery poured down on women’s heads day by day, minute by minute.

But we do no-one any favours by pretending we know the answer is that everything is right with Fortune 500 company CEOs if we have equal numbers of men and women in the jobs. Not only do we have limited ideas how to tackle the problem, we don’t even really know how to measure our progress. For a real meritocracy we might be aiming for 90%… or 9%. Or 0% because the people who would really be doing the best jobs fall outside the typical “man” and “woman” clusters. We simply don’t know. It’s a real bugger.

So do we just throw up our hands and give up?

Equality of Opportunity and Equality of Reward for Measurable Things

No. We start off by saying that we don’t know what the “optimal” faction of people with label X doing job Y might be. So we’ve got no reason to discourage anyone from having a go. We should provide them equal opportunity, and do our best to police the process so that if they’re actually really good at it, they can succeed. We should stop looking at the labels and care much more about the thing they’re actually doing.

Representation helps a lot. Showing that there are people who share labels with you who can do a thing certainly seems to empower people to go for it and succeed. (“A woman can be prime minister”. “A gay dude can be an action hero”).

We must tackle broader structural inequalities, especially those that have glaringly-obvious historical basis.

Like saying “no female CEOs”. Fuck that, obviously.

Police things like promotion and salary tracked by observable, measurable performance indicators. In my own field, particle physics, in the UK, it was clear that amongst people with the same exam results or measured achievements, the fraction of people who went further towards a career in the field was radically different between men and women at every step along the way. To the extent that there was just one female particle physics professor in the country at the time. Faced with that sort of evidence it seems pretty clear that your field is getting something wrong and needs to change. (It did, although I’m sure there’s still a hell of a way to go).

Like the fact that the richest families in Florence today are the same rich families from 600 years ago (https://anarchimedia.com/2019/01/15/rich-families-in-florence-today-are-the-same-rich-families-from-600-years-ago/). The chances of that being due to those people having some magical family clustering on the “great at running a business” axis are slim compared with the chance of it being a historical tendency of capitalism and a failure to redistribute and give someone else’s family a go. Britain is not a richer country than Mozambique because people born in Britain are clustered in some mythical white-supremacist-wet-dream-master-race cluster of supernatural wealth-generators. Chances are very high indeed that it’s physical, geographical and most of all historical factors, not anything to do with the inherent properties of the individuals born there.

Rampant racism is fucking nonsense, as is classism, which clearly runs deep through British society. There’s just NO WAY that the factors which make a good UK cabinet minister are so tightly correlated with attendance at one of a very small number of private schools because of merit, rather than social exclusion.

Take-away Message: People Are Not Labels

This has been a ramble, I was putting some of my own thoughts down and it doesn’t have quite the through-line I usually try to provide in my posts. I got distracted.

Important points:

  1. We are all in a minority of one.
  2. We sit at different points in all of the axes of infinite multi-dimensional space of human beings.
  3. Labels are gross generalisations which I would contend are much more often harmful than useful. They are not real. Being a man is not a real thing. Being a woman is not a real thing. There are just human beings in infinite multi-dimensional person space, sharing more or less of certain characteristics with other human beings.
  4. Physical reality always presents edge cases. How high was Stephen Hawking? Is an intersex XXY person a man or a woman? (The answer is “no, and nor is anyone else”).
  5. Mistaking the label for the people is pernicious evil and we should stop doing it. We should all start saying “People” instead. “The Welsh” don’t think or do or possess characteristics, it’s not even a well-defined term. People born in Wales? People who live here? People who moved here when they were a kid but moved to England in 1999?
  6. You can speak about people in aggregate only by being clear about what axes in multi-dimensional space you are considering. Then you can start to make meaningful statements. Like that “people who were educated in schools in Wales” are much more likely to speak Welsh than people educated in schools elsewhere”. Which might sound stupid but has some actual meaning, unlike something like “The Welsh have a sweet tooth” or “Whites are superior” or “Women shouldn’t be CEOs” or “The Welsh are sheep shaggers” or “The Chinaman is mean and not to be trusted”. Which are pernicious lies, not even wrong but hugely corrosive and damaging and an awful way to think.

END RANT.

2020 Plans

Hi Everyone,

I mentioned recently that the world has moved to wanting bondage videos rather than still photosets. Recent custom commissions drive home just how much so- we’re getting about 15 video commissions for every 1 stills set commission.

As a result I’ve decided to change the RE update schedule as of the site’s 19th birthday on 1st April 2020. It’s really important to me that I make sure I deliver exactly what I promised when you signed up. The longest membership period you can sign up for is currently 3 months, which is why I’m giving so much notice of the change.

We will move to updating with new material every other day, plus at least two archives every day.

At least one update in three will be a video, and at least one update in three will be a stills photoset.

For the moment I am planning on one video update then two stills, so it will go video update, stills update, stills update, video update, etc. Plus at least two archives every day as at present.

I reserve the right to vary that in future (e.g. if we’ve got a huge number of videos to get through) but guarantee that at least one in every three updates will be a video and one in every three will be a stills set.

To compensate for the overall slight reduction in the total number of updates, I will no longer be trying to split videos when they reach the 10 minute mark and so the videos will often run longer than I’ve allowed them to at present. This fits better with the average running time of the story-led custom videos we’re currently shooting.

If you’re interested in why I’ve decided to do this and the business and artistic case for it, see below. But the short answer is
that I’ve not changed my prices since 2014 and since then we’ve gone from 7 minute HD videos to 20+ minute 4K videos as the norm, as well as making stills sets bigger and longer. Something has to give and I think this re-orientation best suits the way we’re shooting today- we can spend longer shooting each stills set and shoot more complex story-led videos better this way.

Why Are We Doing This? Business and Artistic Case.

Pricing

I have managed to hold our subscription prices the same for the last six years. Inflation in that time has raised prices at least 10%, including my main expense (paying the models). In 2020, something has to give.

One possibility was to keep the update schedule or even add extra videos, but that would have meant a substantial price hike, and hiring a video editor (which I may still do but I’m nervous about taking staff on in the current climate- I’d like to see how things go for a while and maybe hire indie contractors for specific jobs instead).

I know times are tough in my major markets and just don’t think an increase would be affordable for a lot of people. Refocussing towards video and a gentle reduction in the frequency of stills updates is more sensible.

Regular Updates

One of the things that has always kept me coming back to my favourite sites is regular and frequent updates. I want to be encouraged to come back often because there’s always something new to see. Every other day (plus archives every day, as now) seems to keep that, which I really like.

Sustainability

Videos take longer to shoot and WAY longer to edit than stills. An increase in video production was only something we could do temporarily to see if it looked like a better way to go- and it does. To sustain that increase rate of video production, the stills have to come down. This also makes the update schedule feel more sustainable as I get deeper into my fifties (my aching back will thank me LOL)

Every other day feels like a really nice way to go. I know how to do things better now, and I want to allow the time to do it. My burnout at the start of 2019 also shows that fewer, but better, is the way to go for me at this point in my career. A gentle reduction and refocusing is necessary and this seems like the best way.

Time for other projects for art’s sake

As we ramped up custom video production, all the side projects (like Elegance Studios long movies) had to be put on the back burner. It’s really important to us to have at least a bit of slack in the production schedule for personal artistic projects.

That was driven home to me by how much I LOVED being able to set aside a week of prep and production and shooting time to do the recent Cosplay Dungeon fantasy story with Faye. I really want to shoot more in that series and get back to shooting some longer and more ambitious projects “in our own time” (i.e. not based on custom commissions).

The whole RE team really love doing the location shoots as well and this change will allow us to have a greater fraction of the shoots on location and fewer just trying to meet the update schedule. It means the guys and girls who come on location can spend more time on crafting each set and less time making the numbers.

The change to updating every other day will make this difference: it’ll let us concentrate on doing fewer things better, both for the membership site and for the extra self-contained projects which this will allow us to bring back into production for 2020.

Fits in much better with the custom shoots, longer clips on RE

As well as having to fit in more shoots, it is noticeable how many of the customs are coming in substantially longer than the “regular” short RE clips. Many of them are more like Elegance Studios film length! Moving to this update schedule will let me deliver more of those at their natural length, or split sensibly into two, rather than trying to force a split into 10-15 minute long segments to keep the site in its bandwidth limits.

Takes account of the big changes in what we deliver

The last time we raised prices back in 2014, a typical RE video update was about 7 minutes long and we’d just started updating in 1080p full HD. There were longer videos, up to half an hour, but once a month at most.

Of videos due to go up on the site in the next couple of months only one of them is under 10 minutes long, and most of them are over 20 minutes. And we’re now delivering in 4K.

These are VERY different beasts to shoot, edit and upload than the 7 minute HD clips of six years ago. I had to buy an expensive new iMac this year just to be able to physically process the video footage in the available time each month!

Since these 15-30 minute 4K videos are the new normal, for sure something has to give. And since customers are paying us to shoot videos, it has to be stills.

We still love stills. We’re doing them better and will continue to improve.

Since the last price increase in 2014, we’ve moved up to 42 megapixel shooting for stills with a sack of expensive lenses to get the best out of the sensor. Not that the Hasselblad was bad, but it couldn’t deliver in available light, low light or mixed lighting scenarios. We’ve got a lot more strings to our bow photographically as a result.

I hope you’ll agree that we’re shooting more interesting, varied and sexy stills than ever before… but doing four stills sets a week is a drain. The new iMac helped a lot with the physical processing and editing time, but that’s still quite substantial. What’s more important is the drain on creativity. It sometimes feels like a bit of a production line. We REALLY enjoy it when we can take more time for each one and put more creativity into it as a result.

The every-other-day update schedule will allow us to so this. We can go from an hour per set to shoot to an hour and a half easily, even two hours for some sets, and still leave time to film more videos each day than we do now.

As a result we will be able to do an even better job of every stills set we shoot by taking the time to make each one that bit more considered, varied and special.

Reduction in length of time stuff stays on the members’ site

One thing I will have to monitor over the next few months is the total bandwidth as we move to more and more of these monster video updates. For most of the last six years updates and archives have stayed on the site for six months from release date.

I’ve recently reduced that to five months. I may need to reduce it further to four months. This won’t have any effect on those of you on recurring subscriptions, since you’ll still see everything, but it will mean those who only join occasionally are more likely to miss out.

Well, sorry – I do need to encourage you to stay as a recurring member as that’s the whole basis of the business model. It spaces out the bandwidth usage much more for example.

Change is exciting (and a bit scary)

I didn’t realise myself how much things had changed on the site since 2014 until I looked up the numbers to write this post. I thought that the reason I felt so stressed out and overloaded earlier in 2019 was just me not working very efficiently.

But looking at what we put out in a typical month now, compared with what we were putting out in 2014… the difference is stark. Photosets have got longer, and at 42 megapixels, bigger. Each one takes longer to process as a result. Video have got a LOT longer, and a LOT bigger – it’s no wonder I ended up working so inefficiently. I needed to be working to 10pm a lot of nights to queue up exports and video compression jobs, at least until I invested in the new iMac.

Now the question is more about editing time- editing video scales roughly linearly with video length, so a typical 28 minute video now takes four times as long to edit as a 7 minute from 2014. No wonder I was feeling the strain – I literally have about four times as much video to edit as I did in 2014! Adding probably 25% to stills editing time even with the new iMac as well it’s no wonder I suddenly ran out of time to shoot Elegance Studios videos.

I’m excited to get working on shoots for 2020, because of the extra leeway this will give us to improve each one… and that makes me think that this is the right plan for me moving forward. I hope you’ll agree with me that it’s an exciting prospect! I really look forward to showing you the results in 2020!

Cosplay Dungeon Ideas

Hi All,

Our first attempt at the “D and BDSM” idea crossing tabletop roleplaying with BDSM and round-the-table dirty talk with cinematic filming worked out far better than I’d any right to imagine.

You can watch the trailers for part one and part two of Faye’s cosplay dungeon adventure or buy them here: part one or part two (released on Friday 22nd November 2019, which is tomorrow as I’m writing this).

I’m thrilled with the way it turned out, so I’m going to make more. Faye and I had some ideas about which models might be interested, and sure enough they were jumping up and down with enthusiasm when we posted about it.

So I’m just setting out ideas for characters they could play. We need vivid personalities who will be proactive, getting themselves into a lot of sexual and BDSM adventures.

Here are a few thoughts.

N.B. Images are grabbed from Google without attribution, sorry – hopefully the artists won’t mind me using them as a mood board as a jumping-off point for costume ideas.

We’ve got plans for a two-girl shoot with Faye as a story sequel but I think I need to do one more solo shoot to fine tune the shoot workflow first. So looking at introducing another main protagonist character with her own storyline set in the same Duchy first.

Slave of the Sorcerer

Kidnapped and held as a naked sex slave by a wicked sorcerer, she manages to call up a demon in the sorcerer’s summoning circle and seal a pact with it. It breaks her free of her prison and grants her great magical powers. Once she has mastered them, she will be able to return to the wizard’s tower and take her revenge upon him. But first she must complete a quest, of sorts, to grow her magic.

For the demon she summoned was a succubus, a demon of tantric sexual lust. Her own powers will grow as she drains sexual power from her foes. If she has no connection with a foe’s source of power (either their blood-line or their magic) her own powers will not function against them at all. If she manages an indirect connection, like having swallowed the come of a member of that race or having made someone who uses that power source orgasm whilst they call up it, she can exercise her full powers against them. And if she has done that directly to the individual involved, she will be able to overpower their defences and have advantage against them in any physical or mental battle.

She doesn’t know either the sorcerer’s bloodline or his source of magical power, and it would be far too dangerous to confront him now (even if she could seduce him, his power would overwhelm her at this point). So she must seek out as many different bloodlines and sources of power as she can, and lure them into having an orgasm and either her being able to swallow their come of make them use their magic as they orgasm. Each bloodline or power source she consumes will make her own powers grow!

Betrayed by the Flesh

She tries oh so hard to be good and disciplined. Her intents are noble and pure. And yet she cannot resist the call of her flesh. For in her veins runs the blood of lustful, wicked spirits/fae/demons/dragons. She betrayed her duties for carnal pleasure and her home town fell as a result. Now she is on a quest for forgiveness, hunting the monsters who destroyed her home, but always just a hair’s breadth away from falling into a frenzy of carnal lust and betraying herself once again!

This would suit a more barbarian/warrior/ranger/paladin sort of character.

What she cannot deny is that the rough sex and BDSM feeds her demonic bloodline – each time she succumbs, she becomes energised and even more powerful… it is SUCH a temptation!

The Femme Fatale (aka Compiling the Kama Sutra)

A scholar or member of the college of lore, she has been sent to the duchy as a spy/investigator to get to the bottom of strange goings-on and rumours of slave trading. She has a healthy libido and has a sideline… she is compiling a fantasy version of the kama sutra! She therefore wishes to indulge in sex with as many people (and creatures) as she can, and will make careful notes….

The Vampire Hunter

A very earnest and dedicated warrior who has come to the Duchy to investigate the rulers, suspecting that there is a blood coven in action. She is extremely brave, protected by a blessing which ensures that she will always come back to life. Which means she is prone to charge in to situations which are waaaay out of her ability to handle. She’s probably going to get roughed up a lot more than some of the more consensual sex seeker characters above!

Twisted Vampire Hunter

She’s a vampire hunter with a twist – she’s a vampire herself. Rather than just trying to stake the Duchy’s vampires, she’s aiming to stake them and supplant them. More apt to use magic and sex to bind people to her, she’s more in the line of a dominatrix character who won’t always come out on top, rather than the brave damsel stereotype. She might very well be absolutely WICKED. Or she could regard her own condition as a curse and try to slay any and all vampires she meets until her own curse is finally cured, by slaying the coven master of her particular vampire bloodline. At which point she will regain her humanity (or elfosity or whatever) … but will she have become what she most hates in the process?

A Naive Fae

Counterpoint to Faye’s larcenous and manipulative brat of an elf, she is an innocent to whom inexplicably bad stuff keeps happening. Being fae, she’s probably got a very earthy and healthy sex drive and is quite unfussed about bestowing her favours widely, but lacks Faye’s manipulative twist.

We’d need to figure out why she is out and about and doing stuff, to make sure she’s proactive enough to be our protagonist and keep getting herself into scrapes. A curse, perhaps, where all creatures of even vaguely the right sexuality who look upon her lust after her, and she is seeking a way to remove it? Perhaps she too has to collect semen from as many bloodlines and power sources as she can in order to brew not potions of love or lust but potions of “leave me alone” which will let her move as normal through life without constantly being hassled?

Blood of White Dragons

A barbarian warrior or sorceress through whose veins flows the blood of icy white dragons. Not much idea for her personality, more for her outfit: lots of white and light blue colours in the costume, white furs, etc.

Perhaps she is on a quest to find a mate (a white dragon, perhaps?)

And a few snippets…

Here are a few other snippets of ideas which could be fleshed out into a proper character:

  • Monk who uses sex and tantric magic as a way around conflict with the very worst of creatures
  • Starry-eyed princess
  • Steampunk tinkerer
  • Wild magic sorceress whose magic often backfires on herself, usually resulting in her getting tied up with some sort of magical webs or tendrils etc.
  • She is a very proficient mind reader and keeps getting psychic flashes of what people want to do to her. If she lets them, she can get her way afterwards (or perhaps she’s under some sort of curse or geas).
  • Warrior baroness just inherited the barony, wakes up naked and in chains as has to make good her escape, find out what happened, take her revenge, reclaim her throne.

And Finally…

Just leaving this here as a reminder to myself.

Faye’s step-sister Renestrae

Sharp tongued, sharp witted, frighteningly competent, she’s already made herself into a god-damned princess with undreamed-of riches and power enough to be going on with. But now her cursed step-sister (we said half-sister in the film but let’s skirt around that in case the two characters have to get it on at some point!) has gotten herself into some sort of mortal peril off in a hick Duchy in the back of beyond, so of COURSE it is Renestrae who has to come to the rescue. The family insists. How very, VERY tedious.

Elegant Erotica, Silk Soles and Restrained Elegance

Hi Everyone!

As you may have seen from my recent posts, we’ve been upping our production of customs.

This has been very successful, many thanks to everyone who has ordered a custom! I’ve got 20 in my work queue in various stages of pre- and post-production for the autumn and more are coming in each week. This is fantastic and we’re having a great time making them for you!

The majority of custom requests are for videos. So this represents a significant increase in our video production rate. It also gives me a (very nice!) problem: I suddenly have more finished videos than the regular membership website schedule calls for right now.

In business model discussions with members, fans, models and other producers I learned that the majority of bondage production in the English-speaking world is supported by the customs-plus-clips4sale way of working.

Custom video customers cover the main production costs (the model fees, usually) and the producer makes their wages selling the resulting clips individually via Clips4Sale and other individual purchase sites. Clips4Sale has a LOT of traffic, and a community of purchasers many of whom seem to shop almost exclusively via C4S.

I’ve therefore decided to change my long-standing business practice of releasing everything on the membership sites first: some stuff will now debut on Clip4Sale and the eStore first.

I’ve also decided that some of the videos need a separate branding, as they aren’t always bondage or foot fetish.

We’ve chosen “Elegant Erotica” for those videos, and the web page www.ElegantErotica.store now points to our Clips4Sale store accordingly.

So moving forward, video clips in general and custom videos in particular will often debut on Clips4Sale before becoming available on the membership sites.

Will it become available on the members’ site eventually? That depends.

If the clip is branded as www.ElegantErotica.store like this:

it is exclusive Clip4Sale content, not enough bondage or foot fetish for it to be at home on either membership site.

It will therefore be available only for individual sale through Clips4Sale and other sales channels including our eStore of course.

It won’t be making an appearence on the membership sites, so if you want to see it, you’ll have to buy it individually.

If the clip is branded as SilkSoles.com (i.e. it looks like this):

Then it is non-bondage foot fetish content suitable for Silk Soles and will eventually make its way onto the Silk Soles membership site. Given the current production rate, I expect every clip we shoot like this will make it on the membership site in time.

If the clips is branded as RestrainedElegance.com (i.e. it looks like this):

it is a bondage clip suitable for RestrainedElegance.com.

If a film releases on Clips4Sale and the eStore first, it will not end up on the members’ area for months, possibly years, MAYBE NEVER.

So if you like the look of a clip and it is debuting on C4S and the eStore, don’t hold your breath for it to show up on the RE members’ area, buy it now. My intention is that all the clips with the RE branding may eventually show up on the members’ area, but I need flexibility in scheduling to manage bandwidth budgets on RE as well as making sure we have enough variety of models and bondage in the videos on the site.

I know this is not the most convenient for you as a customer. To date, we’ve been able to guarantee that everything apart from EleganceStudios.com long films will definitely be on the members’ area eventually, so if you stay a member you will see everything. But with production running so far ahead, this isn’t possible for me to guarantee, sorry.

Business Model and Forward Planning Digression

That’s the end of the public service announcement part of this post.

I know some people are interested in my business model thoughts, so I thought I’d explain what’s going on. Feel free to skip this bit.

For 18 years I’ve had a pretty stable release schedule. We’ve done a few tweaks over the years – from an update being by definition the photos that came of a single 36-exposure roll of 35mm film, to daily updates splitting sets into multiple parts, adding video at one per week, then consolidating to the current 5-days-a-week schedule with four photosets per week, not split into separate parts unless they are deliberately conceived that way (e.g. as a multi-part story with each part in a different tie and a different location). Plus one video per week. Plus one stills set a week for SilkSoles and videos for SilkSoles as and when timing permits, which in recent times means “only when we get a custom video”. I’m proud of never once having missed an update.

This schedule is nicely inside my control and allows me to plan ahead, something which is quite necessary to manage a 6-day-a-week schedule (312 updates a year, of which 52 are video, 52 are Silk Soles stills and the rest are RE stills).

For a while we made cinematic films under the EleganceStudios.com banner, but the time we used to allocate to this has increasingly been taken over by custom videos. We still intend to make Elegance Studios films, but most of the recent ones have actually been long customs rather than our own productions, and the couple of longer films we’ve shot in the last year are still waiting to be edited behind the growing queue of customs.

We’ve now reached the point where the video production needs to step up to meet demand and as I said at the opening of this post, that gives me a new problem, albeit a pleasant one- right now, we’re producing videos faster than we can use them on RestrainedElegance.com.

I don’t know if this is a temporary thing- maybe the custom work will expand even more, in which case the RE membership site model needs to shift towards video, or it might settle back to something more like the one-video-a-week RE schedule. And it’s a challenge because I’m not in control of what people want us to shoot. We can get a sudden rush of costume drama 45-minute films which will need slicing up into multiple parts for RE to control bandwidth costs, and leave the nude-in-metal fans a bit bereft. Or we can suddenly have everyone wanting 5 minute struggling videos with the same model. Maybe the custom production will suddenly drop off, as it did a couple of years ago.

For all these reasons, I’m keeping the possibility of putting clips which have been shot as customs months or years ago up on the membership site to “damp down” these clusters of flux and flow in what gets commissioned. But if the production continues to outstrip the one-a-week RE schedule, some stuff may never make it.

Planning for this is tricky.

I’ve also got a year or so of content plus months of shoots planned on the assumption that the update schedule is going to stay the same. I know a lot of RE members are members mainly because of the stills, so I’m reluctant to go to an alternative schedule which would be two videos and two stills sets per week. Videos take more time to produce and critically more bandwidth on the site, so if I’m upping the commitment on the videos, the stills have to come down significantly.

Most producers seem content to surf the waves of what’s happening this month or this year, but I guess having been in the business for nearly 20 years now, never having missed and update and wanting to keep it that way, I’m more prone to looking forward and worrying about stuff. It’d probably be wiser to make money while the sun shines, pile ’em high while the sales are good on C4S and not worrying about this stuff. And certainly not post about it, which is almost certainly counterproductive as far as sales go. (However hypothetical my discussions, someone always seems to decide it means a complete change of direction and cancels their membership accordingly. Sigh. But I like being open and writing these blogs focusses my own thoughts, too).

In the longer term, I must acknowledge that I’m no longer in my early 30’s as I was when the site launched. I’m now in my early 50’s, and with the best will in the world the update schedule will have to come down at some point. It is possible that the whole business will have a new golden age and I will be able to employ younger people with less creaky backs and knees. But if that doesn’t happen I’d rather reduce my output, reduce the membership price accordingly and gently keep doing the stuff I love for as long as I’m physically capable. Realistically, I’ll HAVE to reduce the output when I hit 60 in nine years.

Left to my own devices I’d vaguely thought sometime around a decade from now when I hit 60 to think about ramping down the video production to maybe one every two weeks, and the stills down to two per week and regard that as semi-retirement.

In the meantime, I need to actually increase my video production while there is demand. That’s fine, it eats up our contingency time where we used to shoot Elegance Studios videos and do other business ventures like landscape photography, but it is totally sustainable for now. It just messes with the RE video schedule a bit.

I could separate off the stills and videos components of RE entirely, that would certainly allow more flexibility. But given how confused customers can be by the fact that stuff on the shopping carts isn’t all on the RE members area all the time, I can only imagine how much bafflement that would bring. I may do this in the future if the video side continues to dominate, I guess.

For now I’ve decided that this is the least dislocating option. The RE update schedule stays the same, we use our contingency business time to shoot customs, I release the customs on C4S as soon as they are ready and they await possible addition to the RE members’ area some time in the future when it suits the RE schedule.

Cheers, Hywel