Steve Diet Goedde: Extempore, the subject of a Kickstarter campaign that launched on Monday February 18, is the latest project from the Los Angeles-based master of fine art fetish photography-with-a-twist.
The twist being that, while renowned for his ability to make latex-clad women look as shiny and glamorously sexy as any of his fetish contemporaries do, Goedde offers rather more than the genre’s typically glossy but often ultimately predictable pin-up images.
Steve’s idea of a great shot may well crop out the head of one of his beautiful models, or catch her from an unusual angle that other photographers would probably consign permanently to the outtakes bin.
He looks for ways to capture gorgeous women as living characters rather than just clothes horses — an approach he shares with past greats such as Helmut Newton and Bob Carlos Clarke (one of his major influences).
The style of his images might sometimes give the impression that he coaxes his subjects into precarious static poses that they are obliged to hold while he fires away with the shutter.
However, with Goedde, it’s much more about capturing the perfect moment in a ‘live sequence’ to create the narrative he looks for in a picture.
And Steve Diet Goedde: Extempore is a collection of images that takes this concept to its logical extreme by focusing on favourite unrehearsed, unposed, candid and stolen moments from more than two decades of shoots.
With images ranging from Kumi Monster and Marne Lucas in 1996 through to Alejandra Guerrero in 2018, the book is testament to the pantheon of fetish modelling talent Steve has collaborated with over the years.
Within its pages you’ll find the likes of Angela Ryan, Ulorin Vex, Black Widow, Emily Marilyn, Lucy Fur, Apnea, Tall Goddess, Yee, Midori, Darenzia, Skin Diamond, Ivy Red, Masuimi Max, Mosh, Miss Miranda, Stoya, Jade Vixen and many more.
BLACK WIDOW, Beverly Hills 2001 (SD Goedde)
Fans of Geodde’s work will doubtless recognise some of the shoots represented here from different selections published in previous books. But most of the images in Extempore have never been seen before.
The finished book, to be published by London-based Circa Press, has been designed by Rosa Nussbaum to give the kind of visual breathing space to individual images that is rarely afforded in fetish photo books any more.
Approximately 100 B&W and colour photos are spread across no less than 160 pages of heavy art paper.
And given that the vast majority of the images are portrait format, this means that many of them sit on spreads opposite a white page that is blank save for a picture caption.
Some captions are just simple iterations of the model’s name with the location and year of the shoot.
But in others the author adds a few extra lines of background information that can give a fascinating glimpse into what was in the photographer’s mind or what else was going on at the time.
Take this caption to the shot taken of Ulorin Vex in LA in 2007 with most of her face obscured by a steel girder, which you can find below in our gallery of Extempore spreads. Says Steve:
To take light readings through my camera, you have to press the shutter down halfway. I often accidentally take photos by pressing the button down too far. Sometimes these result in very satisfying happy accidents
Or this accompaniment to a shot of Darenzia trying to warm up by wearing a jacket over her rubber outfit on a chilly shoot in 2006:
Not all weather conditions are ideal for wearing latex. In the heat, models boil. In the cold, their sweat freezes. As Darenzia knows, it’s important to stay comfortable between shots.
“My photographs have multi-layered intentions,” the photographer explains when we chat about the philosophy behind the book’s picture choices.
“They’re not mere documentations of sexy fashion — they’re about the human being who is wearing the fashion. They’re also about light and composition.
“All these elements have to converge in order to make a successful photograph. Most of the talent has to do with noticing these moments and acting within a split second to get the desired result in a technically proficient manner.
“I’ve captured some very unflattering ‘getting ready’ moments,” he admits, “but this is simply a collection of the ones that ‘worked’.”
Knowing a fair few of the models in Steve Diet Goedde: Extempore as I do, I’d say they’re not necessarily the type of women to tolerate too much freezing or sweltering for just any guy with a camera.
But Steve doesn’t seem to have a problem with earning and keeping his subjects’ trust. Reciprocal regard seems to be the order of the day.
“I’m only interested in capturing the true inner and outer beauty of my subjects,” he says.
“I only shoot models for whom I have the deepest respect, so I’m not interested in showing them in a
COVER STAR: Kumi fronts Goedde’s Extempore
This reminds me that some years ago at a big European fetish event, I was criticised by a couple of male scene veterans for ‘elevating the status’ of fetish models by publishing interviews with them that suggested they might have personalities and intellects as well as looks.
I tell Steve that it often seems to me that he’s endeavouring to explore the same character traits with his photography.
“Absolutely,” he replies. “Showing these models as real people is what makes my images successful, in my opinion. Sure, it’s titillating to see artificially-lit, hot, sexy models wearing tight, shiny, sexy fetishwear. But there’s no human connection.
“I think familiarity is very important in my work. People can relate to the models and the environments they’re photographed in. My models have flaws and are shot in familiar, everyday locations. Viewers can connect on a deeply human level and transport themselves into the clothing and scenes.”
The gentle humour in many of Goedde’s images (and indeed his captions) is another element of his style not to be undervalued. And importantly, his models always seem to be in on the joke; we’re laughing with them, not at them.
This also has a lot to do with the previously mentioned familiarity, he thinks. “It’s just a further extension of showing how human these models are and the connection I have with them.
“When I first started doing fetish photography, it was always a goal of mine to avoid clichés associated with the genre.
“Despite having separate interests in fetishism and photography at an early age, I avoided shooting fetish-themed work for a long time because I thought a lot of the genre’s imagery up to that point was fairly cheesy: dominatrixes with teased hair, with whips and chains.
“It wasn’t until I saw Bob Carlos Clarke’s The Dark Summer in 1985 that I realised fetish imagery could be photographed in an aesthetically pleasing way.
“It opened the door for me to shoot fetish-themed work the way I wanted to — that could possibly be accepted by the fetish scene, the art world, and maybe even the mainstream in general.
“And that’s what led my first publisher, Edition Stemmle, to call my first book The Beauty of Fetish — because before then , there wasn’t a lot of ‘beauty’ in the genre.”
Given the reputation of its author, you may wonder why Steve Diet Goedde: Extempore has been launched this week as a Kickstarter project rather than just being printed and put straight into bookstores by its publisher.
It all comes down to economics. If Circa had followed the traditional publishing model for this kind of high quality ‘boutique’ hardback photobook, the cover price would need to have been set at more than £100.
NATURALE, Los Angeles 2009 (SD Goedde)
But using Kickstarter enables the retail price for pre-orders to be reduced to less than half this, at just £39. This secures a signed copy of the book shipped to anywhere in the world, but there are special editions and other goodies t0 be obtained by pledging more.
For example, three pledge levels between £75 and £150 secure the book plus signed prints, while pledges of £225 or £375 get you numbered clamshell-boxed editions (limited to 30 and 20) and bonus prints.
Finally, the top pledge of £995 or more secures a numbered, boxed edition (limited to 10), various signed prints and five signed copies of the regular hardcover book to share with friends, as well as invitations to a private VIP book release party in LA later this year.
And don’t forget: Kickstarter projects like this only get the money you pledge if the campaign reaches its goal amount by the completion date. That date is March 20 and the target to be reached by then is £22,000 — an amount set to ensure the initial print run of the book and distribution of all rewards.
STEVE DIET GOEDDE: EXTEMPORE TECH INFO
Large ‘A4 ’ hardcover format
30 x 26cm (11.75 x 10.25in)
100 B&W and colour photos
First edition signed copy pre-order price: £39.00
Pre-orders ship in July from centres in UK and US
BELOW: Click any thumbnail to view/start slideshow of Steve Diet Goedde: Extempore sample spreads
Published February 20, 2019; updated with new images February 21, 2019