I love good eye contact in spanking scenes. You know: that moment when the gazes of top and bottom meet and the air crackles between them. There might be fear, love, frustration, anticipation, or sexual tension in that look. One of the reasons I love spanking dramas is the range of emotions that are played out in them, and nothing reveals that emotion better than the expressions on the faces of the players. Spanking scenes where I can't see the face of the top, bottom (or even, sometimes, both) hold little appeal to me. I want to be able to read them, to glimpse an insight into how they're feeling. Body language is also important, but I don't want to look at headless figures. I want to see the whole person, and few things show that better than the look in someone's eyes.
I was thinking about this as I worked on the above scene with me and D, in which we play out a hot library fantasy. It's one of those scenes where the punishment far outweighs the crime, and the textbook is a flimsy excuse for the sequence of punishments that ensues. In this sort of scene it's not really the plot that's important, but the connection between the players. We're either seeing disproportionate cruelty or sizzling, semi-consensual eroticism, and either way what's important is the power dynamic between top and bottom and the energy that's exchanged between them.
There's another kind of eye contact in spanking photography: eye contact with the camera. Some people have a strong opinion on this sort of "glamour" style: it can break the immersion in a scene, and many viewers wish only to watch the players interact with each other. Personally I like to look at spanking photos in both styles, and I think each has its place.
Some photographs are delightfully ambiguous: a look of conspiratorial excitement or nervous anticipation on a spankee's face could put you in the scene with them as a fellow victim, a voyeur or as their spanker-to-be. But at other times eye contact with the camera makes assumptions about the viewer. A sexy, flirtatious glance from a female performer assumes that the viewer is attracted to women. If the camera takes the point of view of a spanker and captures the fearful glance of the spankee looking up at them, then that is an image aiming to appeal primarily to toppy viewers. Not that a fellow spankee couldn't empathise and identify with the spankee in the picture - but the implied interaction is between the spankee in the picture and an invisible top, whose place the viewer is invited to take.
This is pretty much what we mean when we talk about the concept of "gaze".
It's an age-old technique and it can result in some very powerful, engaging, direct imagery. Most usually, in F/F, M/M or M/F spanking photography, the camera is focussed on the spankee and it's the spankee making eye contact with the viewer. By contrast, in F/M photos you'll often see the camera focussed on the female top, who might flirt with the camera while their bottom ducks his head. So the unwritten rules seem to be that the viewer is probably interested in women, unless they're gay; they're probably a top; and if they're a sub, they're definitely male (and interested in women).
The above are generalisations, of course, and I'm always interested in digging out the exceptions. But that's the general pattern you'll see on most "mainstream", high-traffic blogs and websites.
Anyway, I like looking at that stuff or I wouldn't have got into spanking porn in the first place, but I also like variety, so I've been trying to create images here and there which buck the trend. For instance, in making F/M photography where the submissive man connects with the viewer while his top is wholly focussed on him:
Sounds like it shouldn't be radical, but images like this are surprisingly hard to find.
Or how about spankable men looking flirtatiously over their shoulders at the camera?
I don't know about you, but I can't look at this photo without wanting to pick up that tawse.
But the biggest missing piece in this jigsaw puzzle, for me, is photography of dominant men engaging with the camera as a submissive viewer. Which seems a shame, because eye contact is one of the hottest D/S tools a dom has at their disposal, and when I'm flirting with someone it's one of the first things I notice. My doms can turn me to a quivering submissive puddle with a glance, and I'd love to see some of that energy communicated in spanking photography.
So, assuming that some of my viewers are, like me, going to be subs or bottoms who like playing with men, I'm experimenting with showing male tops in all their power and beauty, just as the F/M photography tends to show off female tops. Spanking photos where the top has just noticed you, and has something to say. Whether that's:
Hey beautiful, why don't you join us?
Wipe that smile off your face, young lady: you're next.