Friday, June 24, 2016

Hal's Interview (Toes In Action)



"I simply love seeing women walking barefoot through the city, being totally carefree and leaving their shoes at home."


For years I've been an active member on the Wu's Feet Links Forum and have gotten to know a number of other webmasters in the foot fetish community. One such person has been Hal, the photographer and webmaster of Toes-in-Action

Like me, Hal began his site in the early 2000's after running a free site in the years prior. His work was something I've admired from the first time I saw it. Beautiful models, bright colors, and unique settings are just a few of the reasons why I can't wait to see what Hal is posting next. These are all aspects of my own photography as well, so it's great seeing someone else's work who does many of those same things. Hal really does some great work.

In addition to his photography skills, one thing I have to say up front is that Hal is, and always has been, a personable guy! Never once have I had a bad interaction with him. He's been a great help with keeping up with the forums after Wu's passing and is always willing to assist in any way possible. Because of that, I have been wanting to approach him about taking part in an interview for some time now. As I figured he would be, Hal was more than happy to take part.

Thanks for taking some time out of your schedule to do this interview, Hal. It's funny how we've never really talked about any of these things in all of the conversations that we've had over the years. It was fun getting a little glimpse of how you grew up dealing with your fetish and, in later years, opened up Toes-in-Action and grew it into the site that it is today.

Introduction & Interview by: Patrick (solesofsilk.com) 

Some of the Basics

When it comes to female feet, the reason why we're all here reading this interview, do you have any size preferences? Do you like them bigger? Smaller? Does size not matter?
I do have a weakness for large, slender feet with longish toes, but I have also seen many small feet that I found to be stunningly beautiful. So size is not really an issue as long as the feet are attractive.

Do you have a favorite part of a woman's foot?
For me, the most exciting part of a woman’s feet are toes with nice, large nail beds and slightly longish nails. If they are sporting a perfect pedicure along with some foot jewelry I'm very happy. I also like soles a lot - be it clean and soft, or dirty from having walked barefoot.

I've always loved the colorfulness of your photography. When it comes to color, what are some of your favorite colors to see a woman's toes painted?

Thanks a lot, Patrick. Yes, I love perfectly pedicured toes - especially red, pink and dark colors such as purple, dark blue and even black. When I started becoming more seriously interested in feet in the 1980's, there were only a few colors on the market, mainly shades of red. Nowadays there seems to be every color under the sky available, which is great in my opinion. Amazing tones such as neon-pink, black with silver sparkles, brown with a shade of gray, mint-green, sparkly turquoise... I love all those crazy new nail polishes.

When it comes to footwear, what kinds of shoes do you enjoy to see pair of sexy feet trapped in?
My favorite way to see female feet is without shoes - women walking barefoot outdoors will always be on top of the list. If I had to choose a shoe, I would probably say flip flops because they show almost the entirety of the tops of the feet and the toes are completely visible.

How about things like socks and stockings – do you have any interest in them as well?
I can understand how stockings and nylons can look sexy, but I prefer bare feet.

You've shot a lot of models, but if you could shoot any two famous women, whether they be actors, athletes, or any other kind of celebrity, who would you pick?

That is quite a difficult question because I personally prefer girl-next-door type of women - the kind of women that you see when you walk down the street and whom you can talk to. I have never really fantasized about celebrities apart from some harmless daydreams in my early childhood. 


I am quite into science fiction movies, so if I had to choose two celebrities I would go with Linda Grey, in her Buck Rogers days, and Carrie Fisher, in her early Star Wars days. Virginia Madsen, as Princess Irulan in the 1984 version of Dune would also be pretty cool. I’ve never seen their feet before, but shooting a barefooted Princess Leia would be pretty awesome!

Discovering the Fetish

Do you remember about how old you were when you first began to take notice of women's feet?
My earliest childhood memories actually involve feet. I've been interested in female feet since my kindergarten time when I was around three to four years old. I remember it becoming stronger when I started visiting regular school. I grew up in South Africa and it was common for girls to walk around barefoot in the classroom, in fact, the school encouraged it. Even female teachers would sometimes walk around barefoot in class. It was a dream for me but also quite distracting when trying to concentrate on the lessons.

What were some of those earliest thoughts like?
I didn't really have an explanation for my preference of feet and during my childhood and preteen years. I never talked to anyone about it because I was a little ashamed of it. I kept it to myself until I was about 17 years old and had my first serious relationship. She was the first person whom I could freely speak to about my love for female feet.

How long afterward did it take you to realize there was something called a foot fetish? Did you views change afterward once you learned that there are others who also love women's feet?

The first time I heard the word fetish, and realized that I had one myself, was when one of my teachers explained the term to the class. We were reading a book that mentioned the word "fetish" in one chapter. Unfortunately, my teacher made it sound like a horrible, sick psycho-perversion that will eventually drive you crazy. 


At first I was pretty much shocked about what I had just heard and thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Reading up the term "fetish" in psychology books in our school library didn’t help much, as those articles sounded just as bad as my teacher. This was all before the internet – in the late 1980's. Fortunately, I soon realized that there was nothing wrong with me or with having a foot fetish - especially when I met my first girlfriend who was very open minded. 

The first time I noticed that there were more people into female feet was when I visited the UK with my girlfriend and we found a copy of Leg Show Magazine and Footsy Magazine, a British foot fetish mag. This must have been in the early to mid 1990's. These magazines were truly a revelation to me. I looked at them dozens of times and read the articles over and over again. 

Do you remember your first experience with female feet? Care to share some details of what that first time was like?
I was already attracted to feet at a very young age, so I don't really remember my very first experiences or thoughts. One thing I do remember well was at around the age of 10, when I slept over at a female friend's house. She was a little older than me and I had seen her barefoot lots of times, but this time I was suddenly very strongly attracted to her feet. Something had changed in my head, it was as if a switch had been turned. I remember her letting me touch her feet. Nothing much happened because I was still a little ashamed and we were just childhood friends, but I guess you could call it my first real foot experience.

As you've grown older, can you describe how your views toward your foot fetish have changed from those early days? What has caused them to change, if they have?
When I was younger I was quite confused and a little ashamed of my foot fetish, but since I started running the website I have become very bold and open about it, not just in my relationship but also in everyday life. All my friends know about my love for female feet and we also talk about it on a regular basis. Unfortunately none of them share this passion, but that's okay. 


I was lucky enough to meet a few cool foot lovers in real life and was especially privileged to become friends with the great Feetosopher from Italy. He runs Barefoot Urban Girls and Barefoot Nudity, and is a regular contributor to Wu’s Feet Links. Every time we hung out I had a really big confidence boost - it is great being able to share your views and experiences with another intelligent, like-minded person who happens to also be a photographer and webmaster.

[Editor's Note: Read The Feetosopher's Interview from March 2016.]

Filming & the Internet

What year did you begin posting foot fetish content online?

This must have been around the year 2000. I went out and bought an Olympus Camedia C-900 digital camera. It was a little camera with 1.3 megapixel and cost a whopping 1000 Deutschmark. I was in heaven because now I had the ability to shoot photos of female feet without having to get them developed in a store. 


I immediately took pictures of my girlfriend's beautiful feet and then published them online. I had no knowledge of web design, but I built a little rudimentary website with the help of Netscape Composer. I steadily filled it with free content and we got a lot of positive feedback, so I expanded the site and made it look a little more professional and called it Rise-to-your-Feet. Some of the people reading this may remember my old website. That was when I started getting in touch with a lot of other webmaster and models from the early days of the internet, mainly people from the USA. 

Wu's Foot Forum was a big help, as were some other small forums and those old Yahoo! Groups. We started exchanging photo sets and talked about our fetish online. People were sending requests and my girlfriend was getting a lot of compliments via email. It was an exciting time!

Were you into photography prior to that? If so, what kinds of photography were you into?
In the late 1980's my father gave me his old Minolta camera and I sometimes shot photos of my friends who were all into skateboarding and played in punk and hardcore bands, but apart from that, I didn’t have much experience with photography. In the mid 1990's a friend let me use his professional camera for a weekend and I shot about three to four rolls of film of my girlfriend's feet. Those photos turned out pretty neat and that was my first ever experience of real foot photography.

Your site, Toes-in-Action, has been online for some time. What year did you begin that and how did it all come about?
I started Toes-in-Action in 2003 and it was basically an expansion of the free website my girlfriend and I were running at the time. It was actually my girlfriend's idea. 
She asked me, "Why don’t you try making a second website with multiple models?"

That was a really great idea! I had no clue how to do this, but I put an ad in a local online market asking for models with attractive feet and mentioned that no model experience was needed. It worked like a charm and about 10-20 girls wrote me an email and I eventually ended up shooting most of them. That is how I met the first models that appeared on the website: Jeannine, Fela, Tia, Carmen, etc. 

The second thing I needed was a better camera than the 1.3 megapixel Olympus and I was lucky to find a new Minolta Dimage 7, with 5 megapixel, for a very reasonable price. I also wanted to start shooting video clips, so I bought a Panasonic camcorder and a bunch of mini-DV tapes. Then I needed to build a better website, so I started working with Adobe Dreamweaver instead of the pretty rudimentary Netscape Composer. I had some issues with my old hosting company and after launching Toes-in-Action, I soon switched over to BHE and have stayed there ever since.

When you set in the beginning, what was the online foot fetish landscape like? How has it changed over time?
It was a really exciting time. The internet was still kind of new and there was only a small fraction of foot websites compared to today, but most of those sites were free and had this sympathetic-naive DIY spirit. It was awesome to be a part of this and to contribute to that new online foot fetish scene. I was always very excited about the next updates and communicated with other webmasters, fans and models on a daily basis. I think back very fondly of that time! 


What has changed in the last 15 years is the amount of sites, stores, social network pages, etc. that are out there now. There must be tens of thousands of places that you can visit to look at foot fetish material. It is a good thing of course, and also the natural way things evolve, but there is also a certain over-saturation of material. On the one hand, it is great to have access to so much free random material. On the other hand, it takes the excitement out of finding really good photos and clips. In the early days it was more of an Easter egg hunt to find photos of perfect female feet. There was nothing more satisfying than eventually finding couple of pictures showing a pretty woman with beautiful feet on some small, random website. Nowadays you can just type "beautiful feet" into a search engine and thousands of photos will pop up within a split second. That exciting and satisfying feeling has vanished. It's a bit of an overkill, in my honest opinion.

With those changes, how has Toes-in-Action and your work changed? You've told me personally that you made the move to shooting a lot more of the dirty soles facet of the fetish. Is that one of your biggest changes? Why was that choice made?
You’re absolutely right about that change. I basically only still shoot photos and clips of women walking barefoot in the city. The main reason is that I love seeing this. I am totally into women walking around barefoot in public, especially in places where it is quite uncommon to be barefooted. Seeing a woman walk barefoot at the beach, on the lawn or next to a swimming pool is not as exciting to me as seeing her walk around in a super market, an office, the public library, at university or in the city. 


I am lucky enough to live in a city with lots of open minded, free spirited women who walk around barefoot outdoors. Many of them are students at one of the large universities in my town. They leave the house without shoes and socks and just walk around outdoors on their beautiful bare feet. Approaching them and asking them to model for Toes-in-Action was just a logic development. There was also a point when I noticed that there are thousands of websites out there that show clean feet - mainly photos and clips shot in indoor studios. Only a handful of websites show natural, everyday women outdoors in public, walking barefoot in the city through crowded streets. I decided it would be a good idea to fill this small niche.

Do you, yourself, enjoy seeing a woman with dirty soles? If so, care to explain the passion? When did you begin to notice that passion in regards from when you first began to know that you had a foot fetish?

Yes, for me this is one of the sexiest things - not so much the dirty soles by themselves, but the fact that they turned filthy-black from having walked around barefoot outdoors. I simply love seeing women walking barefoot through the city, being totally carefree and just leaving their shoes at home. For me this shows a certain type of boldness, an "I don't give a damn attitude" that I love about women. 


Wearing shoes is considered to be the norm in our western society, so leaving the house without them is something uncommon, something brave and something very sexy, in my opinion. The dirty soles are "proof" that a woman has walked barefoot outdoors. There are so many alternative/punk/hippiesque women in my city who will walk around barefoot for months in summer. I'm really lucky in this respect.

What was your initial fan reaction like when you opened Toes-in-Action?

It was extremely positive. I think on the first day about 20 people already joined the website, even though there was almost no content in the members area yet. Now there is 13 years worth of material. I received tons of emails and requests in the first months. It was flattering, but also quite overwhelming and I soon stopped taking requests because it was too time consuming. Some of the requests were also very difficult to carry out, or jut not my cup of tea. I'm always open to ideas and suggestions, but I stopped taking requests.

What is the fan reaction like today?
Since I changed over to mainly shooting dirty soles barefoot girls out on the streets, the fan base has shifted. The reactions are very positive to the video clips and photo sets, but these are probably different people than the fans of the early years, around 2003. Coming to think of it, it would be interesting to see who has been a fan since the very beginning.

If you could say something to all those fans, especially those who have supported your work, what would you say?
I am very, very grateful for all the support from the fans. When I started in 2003 I wouldn't have thought that Toes-in-Action would still be around 13 years later. I’m very happy that there are still people out there who are interested in my work and support the site and stores. Thank you very much!

When it comes to the models of Toes-in-Action, how have you gone about finding them over the years?
At the very beginning, I put up ads in a local online market. After about two years I didn’t need to do this any longer because most of the models would pass my number on to their friends, sisters, room mates, etc. and women would contact me. For about seven to eight years I have also started approaching women on the street, mainly when I see someone walking around barefoot who look interesting to me. I approach them and ask if they would like to model for Toes-in-Action, and it usually works pretty well. A few dozen models on my website are also from Italy and were shot by The Feetosopher. He was kind enough to contribute the photos in the early days before he started his two websites.

You shoot a lot of photography outdoors. I've often said that I love many of the settings that you use. Do you prefer outdoor photography as I do? And how do you find such great locations?
You’re right. I’ve actually never taken photos indoors. I've only filmed some video clips indoors. Outdoor photography is the most interesting way to shoot models, in my opinion. Especially if you live in a historic city like mine, which has tons of old buildings and loads of walls with graffiti/street art that you can use as backgrounds. 


When shooting outdoors you also have the advantage of great light - the sun. Of course, however, there is also the danger of unforeseen weather changes or rain for days on end. I live in northern Germany, near the coast, and unfortunately the weather can change from good to bad quite rapidly.

With so many outdoor shoots in public places, I'm sure you have a few funny stories you could share. Anything stick out?
I never kept track of how many outdoors sessions I've had, but it must be around 500. Lots of random things have happened during those sessions. One event that sticks out was a photo session that we were shooting in a bicycle tunnel and the model was popping a bunch of balloons. The bangs were ultra loud in the long, empty tunnel and they must have sounded like gunshots. Suddenly some cops ran into the tunnel with their revolvers drawn and asked us if we had seen the guy who had been shooting. They were quite amused when we told them it had only been balloons.

Where do you see yourself and your site going in the future? Any plans you care to share?
I don't really have many plans for the future at the moment. In a couple of years my kids will be grown up, will have left the house, and then I can take a deep breath and concentrate more on the website and stores and think about the future. At the moment, I am happy when I manage to keep everything running smoothly with regular updates and new models.

In addition to Toes-in-Action, you also run two Clips4Sale stores that focus a little more on other aspects of foot fetishism. Care to tell us about them and what themes people will find when they visit?
I still run Toes In Action Video Clips and Balloons And Feet Video Clips. The first store contains about 1,500 clips and a wide mix of foot fetish themes. There are a lot of public bare footing clips, as well as many food and object crush clips, a little foot worship, a little shoes, nylons, and socks, and also many clips with clean feet and soles, foot jewelry, and perfectly pedicured toes. 


The second store is about my other fetish. Next to feet I also have a balloon fetish, meaning I like seeing women play with and pop balloons. It is actually not quite uncommon and the online balloon scene is pretty large and very dedicated. Personally my favorite way to see a woman pop balloons is by stepping on them with her bare feet - a combination of both fetishes, so to speak. That is basically the main theme in the store, but there are also clips showing other methods of balloon popping such as: blow to pop, sit popping, fingernails, etc. 

I’m quite surprised that more foot fetish sites and stores haven't picked up this theme. I seem to run one of the only stores in the world that has dedicated itself to videos of women stepping on balloons barefooted. I know it is quite a unusual niche, but I have a large fan base and the clips sell pretty well. You'd think that some other webmaster would have picked this up by now.

You've been active on Wu's Feet Links, both in the forum, and as a contributor to the main site itself. What was it like when you first found Wu's Feet Links? Did you have much interaction with Wu? If so, what was he like to you?
Wu's Feet Links has always been the number one website and forum for me. I discovered the site around 1999 to 2000 and I was hooked at once! Wu was very supportive and really enjoyed my first website. He actually wrote to us and asked if my girlfriend would like to contribute some photos. That was a real honor for me! We exchanged mails quite regularly and he was always a great guy. 


When I launched Toes-in-Action he was super supportive from Day One and really pushed the site. Without him I would not be where I am today. I miss him a lot and was in shock when I found out about his death.

Before wrapping up this interview, are there any items pertaining to your sites, the fetish, or photography you'd like to cover?

I think we’ve covered everything very well. Thanks a lot to you, Patrick, for giving me the chance to express myself and for these interesting and intelligent questions. Keep up the good work with Soles of Silk and with helping out at Wu's Feet Links. Thanks to everyone for the support throughout the years and also for reading this interview.


I’d also like to thank all the beautiful women who have modeled for my website in the last 13 years, and of course, a huge thank-you to my girlfriend, who has supported me all these years and who initially sparked the idea of starting Toes-in-Action. Also a big thank you to The Feetosopher for all his photo contributions and for just being a cool dude! If anyone has any further questions please feel free to contact me. Cheers!

How to find Hal