Back in the Netherlands in 2007, one of his first moves was to form the performance group The Blood Squad (TBS), which has been active ever since and has now racked up more than 40 live performances at various events.
This is something that distinguishes Peter Diablow from most photographers covering alternative subcultures today. Most stay as observers behind the camera, whereas he obviously likes to, er, get his hands dirty.
Is he conscious of the distinctiveness that being both a documenter and a participant confers on him? And how might this influence his photography?
“Film school and appearing in a lot of student films gave me a lot of acting experience,” he says, “so being both a photographer and a performer gives me the advantage of meeting more organisers, models, other performers and random lunatics than I would if I just did one of these two things.
“With Blood Squad the focus is more on doing Vampire and Goetia [invocation ritual] performances, which is why it’s limited to the fetish and Halloween parties where I meet people for shoots.
“The photographer part gets me into fetish and burlesque parties and overall art meetings where I meet different people to do shoots with.”
Peter Diablow reckons being both a performer and photographer gives him “a good mindset of what both parties expect from each other”, therefore helping him to play both roles.
“When I perform, I try to ‘freeze’ sometimes so the photographers can get the shots they want,” he explains. “When taking pictures I kind of know what images people from the performance world like to have to show the greatness of their acts.
“Plus it’s a great outlet to let all your creativity come out through multiple perspectives.”
As a photographer who had just returned to Amsterdam from America, Peter Diablow found in 2007 that he was immediately interesting to a lot of the Dutch gothic and fetish models then in the city.
“In the beginning a lot of them thought I was a real American, which had an appeal to it. Plus, the fact that I worked with fetish models in NYC that they looked up to also worked.
“So I never had any problems finding models in Holland. Most of them actually came to me once word was out that I was here. I didn’t need to find femmes fatales any more — they would find me.”
There was, however, one particular model the photographer connected with who would open the door to a new area of artistic expression for him, as a regular collaborator on DeMask latex photoshoots.
During his time in the US, while getting into the fetish scenes in Boston and New York, Peter had picked up a copy of Marquis issue 27, whose cover featured “a beautiful French model with her legs in the air”.
That model was Louva — now co-owner of DeMask, but at that time, just beginning a new life in Amsterdam with Anton Koot, then right-hand man to the label’s founder Steve English.
When Diablow discovered after his return that Louva had moved to Amsterdam, he quickly contacted her about a possible photo shoot.
“She was friendly enough to invite me into her home to talk about the shoot and set up a shoot location at Mistress Madieanne’s dungeon,” he recalls.
“This was a great beginning of working together. I knew the DeMask name from my time in New York; one of my models worked at the DeMask New York store, so I was familiar with their products and quality.
“When Louva and Anton took over DeMask, they did a fashion show at the Wasteland party in 2011 which I filmed and made a compilation for. They really liked the video and so we talked about doing some photoshoots and a videoshoot with their products.
“That’s how we came to work together. I really liked too that they wanted to do something new with the brand.
“My favourite collection of theirs was the Egyptian style clothing I shot on Milla Vie and Kristina Deetox. Plus their quality of clothing is supreme and appeals both to me and the models I work with.”
Peter Diablow is on record as saying that what makes his images of fetish and other related subjects look different is that he lights his photo shoots as if lighting for a film — making him, again, pretty unusual among photographers.
“Since my education was in film and I worked on many film sets, I saw how the lighting of scenes can really add to a great atmosphere,” he says. “So I dedicated my photography work to achieving the same effect.”
Major influences on his style include film directors Alejandro Jodorowsky, Dario Argento, Clive Barker, Dante Tomaselli, Stuart Gordon, David Cronenberg, Takashi Miike and Stanley Kubrick.
But since he began shooting a lot more latex, had he found it necessary to modify his lighting to get the best out of the unique qualities of that fabric?
“With latex shoots I try to adjust a little so the details of the latex don’t fade with the use of light,” he explains, “because it is important to so some shoots like product shoots.
“But I do try to bring some atmosphere with some of the latex shoots as well. Lately I have been trying to mix more latex shoots with elements of the occult and light them in a specific way to get that mood across.”
If you visit Darkmindedangels.com, you will see that Peter Diablow groups his work into various categories with tags such as Burlesque, Cult (for his ‘bizarre portrait shoots’), Fetish, Horror and Arcane (for his occult-themed shoots).
So, I ask: who does all that stuff? Does he have a whole production team on standby? Far from it, he reveals.
“I’m blessed to work with many performers from the fetish, gothic and burlesque scenes, and I have to give a lot of credit to their creativity with their outfits and looks, which makes a lot of my portfolio as astonishing as it is.
“I rarely work with make-up artists because the people I work with are amazing enough with their own make-up and styling.
“Especially working with Natsumi Scarlett and Marnie Scarlet: they always put so much effort into their own outfits and looks that it truly is a joy to work with them, and together we come to great results.”
Misses Scarlett and Scarlet are two of the many well-established and internationally known model/performers with whom Peter Diablow regularly works.
And in fact, browsing his porfolio, it quickly becomes clear that he has probably photographed all the best known faces the Netherlands scene has produced.
But he also seems to have access to a great pool of younger and/or lesser known talents. Not least among these is our March cover star, the very striking-looking Nathaly Blue, whose image from a 2017 Diablow shoot also appears in the banner above this very article.
Where did Peter Diablow find her?
“Nathaly is a photographer as well as a model, and I saw her work earlier on Facebook and ModelMayhem. I really liked her self-portraits so I asked her to model but at that time she wasn’t interested in modelling for other people.
“About a year later she approached me for a shoot as she felt more comfortable being a model. She is great to work with — she makes her own latex outfits and jewellery, which is great because she can make anything for any theme.
“I look forward to working with her again — she has a lot of potential and ambition to become something big.
“I’ve seen a lot of models with potential crash because they don’t have the right mindset for modelling. But I think Nathaly Blue does; she seems to know what path to go along so I hope to see her develop more in the coming years.”
Apart from Nathaly, Natsumi and Marnie, who else among his numerous subjects has stood out for Peter Diablow over the last few years?
“I really liked working with Raquel Reed from New York, who I would love to work with again. Among other favourites from the last few years are Milla Vie, Virus Infekt and Dea Tacita.
“I think within Holland I work with pretty much everyone I’ve wanted to work with, except Mistress Manita from the Showboat — she is still on my list!
“And internationally I would still love to work with Kay Morgan (we share the same birthday), Morrigan Hel (we never got to it) and Audrey Love (we just missed each other while I was in NYC).”
When it comes to his choices of models, one of the many positives I see in Diablow is that he evidently enjoys shooting with darker-skinned girls — a group that is generally under-represented in UK and European fetish imagery.
He even has an Urban Dark category on his website, so I’m interested to find out if he’s perhaps on a bit of a mission to correct an imbalance he sees in the range of looks generally associated with fetish. And it seems that he is.
“While I was in NYC there were a lot of darker-skinned women working at the SM dungeons and I would see them also at fetish parties,” he says.
“It wasn’t until I got back to Europe that I noticed there aren’t a lot of dark-skinned women active in the latex and fetish modelling business here.
“The pool in Europe seems to be dominated by [white] Scandinavian, British, German, Dutch and Eastern European models and I would really like to see some more variety in this.
“I try to stimulate the interest of dark-skinned women in fetish and latex photography. I do admit it is hard to convince some of them — most care deeply what their families think of them, and aren’t comfortable showing the outside world their fetishes.
“But the ones who are into latex and fetish — we should treasure them more, and put them more in the picture. I hardly see any darker-skinned women on the cover of fetish magazines in Europe.
“The only time I ever saw a dark-skinned women in latex on any cover was when Rihanna released her S&M music video. I hope I can contribute to making that possible more often in the future.”
An admirable aim for sure. And are there any other ambitions Peter Diablow would like to realise?
“I look forward to working more with video in the future, to translate some of the photoshoots to short films or videoclips, perhaps mixing fetish with some occult traditions and ceremonies.
“Perhaps I’ll look more into assembling a crew of likeminded people for such projects, because the videos I’ve shot in the past have always been with no crew at all. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!”
Twenty-year-old Nathaly Blue (above) is quite new to the fetish world, having been actively modelling only for the last six months or so.
She says her favourite types of shoots as a fetish model are “very artistic latex shoots” or “fun characters like nurses and cheerleaders”.
A fashion student, she began making latex clothing and accessories alongside her modelling “as a means to bring life to her personal creative visions”, and hopes to pursue a career as a latex designer after finishing her education.
Her work is inspired by the macabre, surrealism and religious art, and has a playfully kinky undertone.
She adds that she really enjoys walking in fashion shows, and has already walked for Iris Thespider, House of Harlot, Jasmine Suzanna Latex and Odd Territory.
Pages: 1 2
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.