LA filmmaker and photographer Nathan Strausse chronicles short erotic tales through his camera. Sensual women bound and writhing, crumpled in closets, or sprawling and stretching all seem to whisper a seductive before-and-after adventure in each still image. Strausse's skill as a filmmaker extends beyond his narrative into the lighting, framing and color of each shot. We spoke with him about his collaborations with muses and thirst for the unknown.
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Sez G: Your photos feel more to me like personal vignettes, secrets, and insights than erotica or glamour. How intentional is this, and how is it achieved?
Nathan Strausse: I guess a lot of times I want to try to say something more than what's on the surface. I try to have some kind of story, even if it's back-story, to help it along. So, maybe I am giving some personal insight or statement. I think most photographers are doing that on some level or another. How it's perceived is going to be personal as well. It just brings a bit more to the scene.
Sez G: How did your interest in bondage develop into an appreciation of it as an art form?
Nathan Strausse: I've always looked at bondage as an art from. I love the lines and structure. How it accentuates the body. Use of colored ropes, symmetry and metals. I love the way it photographs. It has lots of different textures and can bring a lot of different elements into a picture.
Sez G: Do you do your own rigging, or do you have a rigger on set?
Nathan Strausse: If it's suspension or any other type of very technical scene, I like to have someone else do the rigging. This gives me more freedom to focus on shooting and have 100% attention on the model as well. If the rigging is less rigorous, than a lot of times I will do it myself.
Sez G: You have a lot of beautiful photo sets of Eros Zine favorite Justine Joli. How did your relationship with her develop? Who are some of your other muses?
Nathan Strausse: Ahh, Justine. One of my favorites, as well. We just have a great time working together. I first met Justine on Andrew Blake's set. It was her first time working with him and it was my first time shooting with him on a feature. Later, we shot together for the first time at this seedy motel and just really clicked. We've shot together numerous times, and every time the shots come out amazing.
I would say Sapphira Chanel, Kelle Marie, Zoli & Maria Menendez are some models that I've been working with, quite a bit.
Sez G: Speaking of Andrew Blake, how did you end up working him, and how has that work affected your approach to photography?
Nathan Strausse: Andrew Blake got my name from a local motion picture rental house in Hollywood. He was looking for someone who knew film cameras and lighting but was also alright with the subject matter. Andrew Blake is the one who really introduced me to erotic filmmaking. My first real erotic photo shoot was at his studio with Monica Mendez.
Sez G: Many of your photos look like they're shot in a real life situation while the models play in the environment, though you also have several intentionally rigged and posed bondage studio shots. What's your preferred shooting environment and why?
Nathan Strausse: I like all environments. I like to go to new places, studios, try new things. It makes you think more, and sometimes not always knowing is better. You'll do something you would never have done if it was in a more controlled, familiar environment. Of course, safety is a factor. So the more extreme set-ups need to have more control… like if you want to suspend, you better be sure there's a place to support that...
Sez G: When did you move to LA, and how has your approach to your art changed since becoming a resident?
Nathan Strausse: I moved to LA in 1997 from San Francisco. I was into a lot of experimental filmmaking -- kind of run n' gun type footage. When I got down in LA, I began working on big budget Hollywood movies. It was a lot more structured and polished. So I kind of blended those two aspects. It's good to know both sides. If gives me a lot more diversity in my work. I have a broader spectrum.
Sez G: Your bathtub looks like it has seen a lot of fun! Any stories?
Nathan Strausse: You know, I don't know what it is, but I always end up in the bathroom. I guess cause every bathroom is unique in a way. The thing about bathrooms though, is that you always find yourself shooting wedged up underneath a toilet, or crunched up underneath the sink.
The most recent, probably more ironic thing, is that both on Mother's Day and Valentine's Day I was in my bathroom with Zoli tied up in some way, so throughout the shoot we would be like "Happy Mother's Day" or "Will you be mine."
Sez G: Tell me about your book My Favorite Model, slated for November release…
Nathan Strausse: I've had some contact with Goliath the past year or so, and they were asking for photographers to send in pictures of their favorite model... of course, Justine was the first to pop up in my head. They liked them and the book will be coming out later on this year.
Sez G: Is it true you're showing film and stills at the LA Erotica Film Fest?
Nathan Strausse: It's official. The film, more like a vignette, is called Bad Girl,
part II. Yes there is a part I, but that won't be showing.
Sez G: What's next for you?
Nathan Strausse: Well, I have a gallery showing in November in Los Angeles. This will definitely be an experience. I'm going to have video as well as stills… more like art installations. There will also be a lot of little surprises and such, throughout the show. But, really just keep on shooting, creating....
Nathan Strausse - by Sez G.