THE DIFFERENCE WITH VIDEO
Do you actually do the film work as well as the photography?
I shoot some of the video myself, but I don’t have time to do it all. It’s mostly shot by ex-models who we train up internally. We have tried some professional videographers, but they miss our point, and are often influenced by mainstream porn – they think they know what we want. We regularly review the video that we have shot as a team, and look to improve it technically and creatively.
How does filming girls and sex differ from the photographs?
I much prefer shooting stills, but the video is a very popular aspect of the site.
Do you get more natural, fluid activity from the girls when filming?
Some models take to video shoots like a duck to water, they really have their chance to go nuts, show us their fave yoga moves, do a dance they designed in year nine, take us on a tour of their attributes… Others find it really tough going – they are too shy to talk at all, and don’t like moving for fear of showing their wobbly bits. Usually at the end of the shoot they are much more relaxed, and I sometimes think we should shoot twice as much video… But it’s exhausting stuff, especially for the crew, wrangling these models.
Does filming hinder your desire for those tight close-ups and ability to study the body?
With shooting video, as there is a lot less detail captured, and the image is constantly moving, closeups don’t work so well. I like closeups a lot, so this also ads to my preferring stills. But, video show models in a way that stills never can: movement and talking, which are undeniably attractive. I am not happy with the technical or creative quality of the video on the site generally, so we’re aggressively working on making it better.
What do you think is a more effective medium for viewing your work and erotica?
The internet is suited to erotica in so many ways – it’s fast, reliable, flexible, cheap, efficient, private, and, best of all, interactive. It thrives on discussion and group collaborations: a huge part of our site are our forums, where many thousands of members can interact day to day with models and staff. We can float an idea for a photoshoot, get comments on it to make it a better idea, go out and shoot it, and we can post images from the shoot minutes after we get back from the studio – and the model can chat with the members in real time.
As the net becomes more and more ubiquitous, I think we’ll see a place for magazines and DVDs less and less. And that’s not a bad thing, just because the medium and delivery method is changing, the message stays the same: spunky chicks naked is good fun!
I am proudest of the stills stuff on the site, but there is some utterly amazing video stuff on the site. We have this categorization system for videos, and one is “just really damn good”. About 5% of our 800 vids have that rating.
How did you get into the busines of erotic photography?
I got into this game when I was a consumer; I was so disappointed with the quality of the stuff that was out there – not the technical quality (though that was not great), but their creative qualities. Sites at the time (1999 or so) got models like ours, but made the tragic mistake of dressing them up like porn stars – thus missing out the whole point of shooting amateur models in the first place. To this day, that mentality has not changed much.
I thought I could do better than them, so I did some shoots of my own, my plan being to sell my shoots to established sites. When I showed my work to those sites, they told me I had no idea what people wanted – come back when I have a clue. I got a similar answer from about five different sites of the day (some of whom have since gone bust, heh!)
So a buddy and I decided to start a site ourselves. We knew nothing about it, but he was a web designer, so we muddled our way through. We went live on October 14th, 2000 – just after the Sydney Olympics had finished.
Since then, the site has grown well. The same way I thought it was obvious to shoot amateurs as amateurs, I have also always thought that if people are paying you for a subscription, you should make it easy for them in other ways – not bombard them with ads or popups, reply to their emails promptly, treat them with respect. This keeps the members happy, and more likely to tell their friends – and come back in the future.
We also vowed to treat models with respect and honesty, as they get ripped off so often in the industry. We don’t refer to the models as “cum soaked sluts”, and members appreciate that as well. When we released our line of DVD’s, we attracted a lot of attention from people who were sick of the gonzo porn from LA, and that attention spread into the website itself.
Abbywinters.com is now one of the largest and most successful sites on the net, all from humble beginnings! We employ eight people full time from an inner-city office in Melbourne.
What plans have you for the future? Expansion of the site and other projects?
In the future, we plan to keep doing what we’re doing. It does not feel groundbreaking for us, it’s just obvious.