On the heels of the success of 50 Shades of Grey, the subculture of BDSM has seen a considerable boost in mainstream popularity. Despite this, the novel and its subsequent film adaptations have also reinforced a limited view as to how the fetish community operates. Photographer Danny Ghitis began shooting members of New York City’s fetish community back in 2011 as part of an ongoing exploration of a complex and oft-misunderstood community.
Titled The Fetlife, the photographic project captures each subject inside of their New York City home. Featuring kinksters, submissives, cosplay enthusiasts and other “sexual deviants”, the project dismantles society’s preconceptions and proved as adept at tackling its creator’s own ingrained prejudices.
“I thought that looking into a project about it was basically a way to expose myself and confront my own ignorance,” Ghitis said. “That way I’d be able to learn and ask myself important questions about my own identity and really face the challenges I think we all should at one point or another face.”
By framing his subjects’ so-called "deviant" sex lives in the context of their daily home life, Ghitis also manages to humanise a frequently “othered” subculture of society. Changing prevalent attitudes surrounding the subject is something that he believes can only come through honest representations of the community as our neighbours, co-workers and friends.
“Something I accomplished through meeting these people and getting invited to their homes was seeing them as real people living in New York and not as stereotyped 2-D caricatures that I think are often portrayed,” he said. “I wanted to contribute to a positive dialogue about the complexities of sexual and gender identity. I felt somewhat a sense of a responsibility as a journalist to do that, though it was sort of secondary to the primary goal of wanting to learn about this for myself.”