Before you started shooting couples, you were photographing nudes. What led you to go to the next stage?
Photographing a single person didn't make sense to me. You don't see people running around naked on their own. It's more honest if it's two people because you're more likely to be naked with another person.
How do you find couples to photograph?
They come to me. Some people want memories, some just like to do it, and some into the swinging scene want to expand their circle of friends. I only work with those who want to do it. Some photographers like to go out and convince people to do it, but I'm not interested in that.
Do they take the lead or do you?
I'm trying to find the essence of love, how a couple connects with each other. So I do talk with them about how they love. Some will be honest and tell you everything, but others are way more coy. It's not an assembly line - I look for their different characters.
Are they actually having sex or just going through the motions?
Eighty per cent is posed. People don't want to make love. They don't actually need penetration. Basically, I start by telling them to make out like they did in high school. If they forget about me, then things start to go really well.
How do you avoid shots that just replicate the conventions of porn?
It goes back to letting people be who they are. There are a lot of preconceived notions about what's supposed to go on in sex and what people should be like in the bedroom. Getting couples to do what they naturally do is best. It's not about people being nude; it's about finding their essence.
I just let them do their thing and I try to catch it. Sometimes it's not about lovemaking - it's about being together. It's not always about going full at it; it's about stuff that goes on afterwards or before. I had one couple who liked to get naked and smoke pot, so [I shot them] with their feet wedged against the walls of a narrow hallway and their heads close to the ceiling, "getting high." That was their thing.
Have you ever felt the need to walk away from a shoot?
I ended things diplomatically once when one person had too much control and the other person was not comfortable enough. It always shows in the photograph - once the person is uncomfortable, you're not going to get anything out of it. It becomes just a picture of a person who doesn't want to be there.
What's the best advice you'd give someone who's trying to do this kind of work?
You have to know how to communicate. And don't get too involved in the couple's personal stuff. I'm conservative in my own love life but I don't care what other people do. I don't judge people.
Make them forget you're there.
Technically speaking, be aware of your own style. Don't be cookie-cutter. Do what appeals to you.
How do people react when, say at a dinner party you tell them about this part of your work?
The number-one question is "Do you need an assistant?"