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Capturing Kink: Scenes from the Folsom Street Fair Photo Booth

Howard Schatz has trained his lens on everything you could imagine—and many things you couldn’t—at the annual BDSM fest.


Liz Coplen

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7 (left) and John Baker

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Michael Garcia (left) and Smashwolf

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Bill Townsley (left) and Thom Loeffel

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Jose Gonzalez

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Tilda Ampersand (left) and Lizzie

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Brent Ray Fraser

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Glenn Peterson (left) and Leni Lennie

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Mako (left) and Dragion

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See all the Affinities photo shoots here.

Every year for the past quarter century, on the last Sunday of September, photographer Howard Schatz has made his way to Folsom Street for the world’s largest leather and BDSM street fair. Schatz opts not to dress up; he usually wears a T-shirt and shorts, plus plenty of sunblock and a baseball cap. He gets there early—before the crowds—to set up his photo booth. And then he spends the day making portraits of the bondage enthusiasts, kink beginners, pups, sissies, and dommes who flock to Folsom Street Fair. (He first stumbled on the “tremendous, unusual, spectacular, magnificent, wild, unlikely, shocking scene” while dropping off film at SoMa’s Faulkner Color Lab.)

Schatz, who during his photography career has shot subjects ranging from athletes to expectant mothers, recently released Kink (Lawrence Richard Publishing, 2018), a book celebrating the fair’s most colorful characters. While Schatz himself identifies as “pretty straight and boring,” he credits Folsom Street with opening his mind. “It helped me understand that we’re all a little different,” he says. “It’s the way the world is—it’s wonderful.”

Originally published in the September issue of
San Francisco

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