LA fetish and Goth photographer Saryn Angel lives in and loves the shadowy underside of sexuality. Using dark props, characters, and lighting, she captures a sensual, sinister world that delicately seduces through mystery and morbidity. We spoke with her about her scotopic vision and passion for the darkness.
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gallery slide show.
Sez G: You're originally from a small town
in Montana. How did you end up in LA?
Saryn Angel: When I was 12 my parents moved to LA for work. I came
down with them and my younger sister. I actually hated LA when I first moved
here, but after an extended visit back to my home town, I realized how much
more LA suited me. I still have family and friends in Montana, so I get
back every few years. LA is where my heart is, although I would like to
travel and live in other cities for a time.
EZ: You're often the official photographer at LA's notorious weekly
fetish event, Miss Kitty's
Parlour. Tell me about these parties and your role as a voyeur AND a
participant in them.
SA: I started going to Miss Kitty's Parlour several years ago. I
love to dress up and be surrounded by other people who are creative and
beautiful. I'm always making costumes, and the club is the perfect outlet
for that aspect of my creativity.
Miss Kitty's Parlour is a great place, and the Filthy family is a lot of
fun. I talked to Jamie 9 one night, and within a few weeks started photographing
the shows and crowd. I still do photos for them on occasion, but have more
fun being able to play and be naughty than working. They let me bring my
camera to the club and I take photos for myself and my friends. It's a great
deal, and I often send my shots over to Jamie 9 so he can use them on the
I love Miss Kitty's Parlour because the people who
attend are open to more than fashion or what's "in". Everyone has a good
time and is encouraged to do things they would never normally do in public.
EZ: What's the favorite shoot you've done so far and why?
SA: Hmm. I don't really have a favorite shoot. Each shoot is unique
and satisfying in its own way. Right now I'm fascinated by my Deadly Dolls
and Pretty in Death projects. Each shoot fills me with an intense feeling
of satisfaction and thrills me.
EZ: You've said you don't bring an agenda to a shoot. How much of
the process is spontaneous capturing of the model and how much is your organic
SA: I try to have a "theme" or a story to tell in the shoot. I've
found that it makes for a more fulfilling shoot. However, I don't generally
have a specific shot that I am in search of. I much prefer to collaborate
with the model and take it to wherever the shoot flows. I feel that if you
have a specific image that you want to capture, you end up losing the spontaneity
and narrow the possibilities that the shoot has.
EZ: You started shooting photography when you were 13. What inspired
you to turn your lens towards the erotic?
SA: I always wanted to photograph people. I've
done plenty of landscapes and table tops and product shoots, but I look
at the images and don't feel anything towards them. I've always been attracted
to the dark side of sexuality. I love to capture images that inspire emotions...
and I feel that erotic photography helps to empower a woman in a way that
pornography does not. Having said that, there is just a huge sense of satisfaction
in capturing an image that turns someone on and at the same time make them
think, "should I be turned on by this?"
EZ: You embrace many darker themes, using fire, blood, blades, black
backgrounds, and Goth models. What part of you does this come from?
SA: I've always seen things from a darker point of view. I hate looking
at the ordinary, or everyday sort of images. From the time I can remember
I've dressed in black and loved horror movies and dark fantasy. I like to
see and to show the things that you don't see everyday. It's so much more
EZ: Where do you find your models and how well do you know them?
SA: Before the internet, I would ask people on the street, at concerts
and at clubs. In the last five or six years, a huge majority of the girls
I've met have been through the internet. Some of the girls are my close
friends... I often drag them into shoots when I'm feeling creative and spur
of the moment, and many of them were my initial muses. I was very shy and
intimidated by the beautiful girls I met at clubs when I first started out.
As years have gone by, I've lost that insecurity and have no problems asking
the beautiful and striking people I meet to model for me. Others, like Jezebelle
X or Ugly
Shyla, I met online, but after shooting with them, I felt such a connection
that I consider them to be friends.
EZ: Good company! Do you bring your camera to Burning
Man? What's your favorite story from the playa?
SA: I do bring my camera to Burning Man, but
not with the intention of creating my art. For me, Burning Man is an expression
of art in every way possible. I take photos of other people's artwork and
costumes to capture the moment. I use the time that I spend there to be
creative in other ways. I have so many costumes that Burning Man is another
kind of express-yourself outlet for me. Aside from that, when out there,
time becomes immaterial. Scheduling photo shoots or even making plans while
out there makes for a disappointment. Nothing ever happens the way that
you expect it to.
There are so many things that happen out there... Last year we spent a day
just wandering from art installation to art installation. Many were just
fun, but there were a few that were intense and brought up a lot of social
One of these was the Berating Chair. It was just a chair that sat out near
the perimeter fence with a set of headphones and a notebook and pen. You
sit in the chair and put on headphones and listen to a man and woman tell
you what a failure you are and how you will never amount to anything. While
it is a horrible thing to say/experience, at the same time, it's incredible.
It only took a few seconds before I was completely out of the Burning Man
mindset... I had to take them off. I was offended and emotional and hurt
by just listening to it, and I wrote my feelings in the notebook. I don't
think it is a "good" installation, but it really made me consider myself
and realize what a wonderful experience Burning Man truly is. It allows
you to break away from the negativity of everyday life. Such a wonderful
and healing thing.
EZ: What's next for you?
SA: Well, having recently been published in Marquis
Mammoth Book of Illustrated Erotic Women,
my immediate goal is to pursue a tabletop book. I've always wanted to, but
never made the time for it. I plan to keep shooting as much as I can and
keep putting more images on my website. I also plan to do more series and
just enjoy myself.
To learn more about Saryn Angel, visit www.sarynangel.com.
Saryn Angel - by Sez G.