It’s A Guy Thing; The Difference Between Men And Women (Shooters)
Gather 'round, guys. Right here, around the campfire. Closer...that's
it. There's something we have to talk about, something I want you to do.
I want you to shoot more like women.
And I want you to do it when you're photographing other men.
Because I think you have a problem photographing men.
See, I've been looking at a lot of photographers' portfolios lately, men's and women's, online and in person. I've also been seeing a lot of individual shots people send me for my opinion and comment. And what I've realized is this: generally, women take better photographs of men than men do. Women move seamlessly between men, women, and kids as their subjects; their results are consistent. Men, on the other hand, seem a lot more comfortable photographing women and kids. Their photographs of men are...well, sort of awkward. And this goes for all types of photos--travel, studio, commercial, editorial.
Sit down, sit down...I haven't even gotten to the really interesting
I think that the younger you are and the more inexperienced you are as a photographer, the more it's true. As you get older, it appears to be less apparent in your photographs. I'm not making this up--it's obvious to me because it's the younger men whose portfolios show predominantly women and kids. I'm thinking, show me some guys; guys who look comfortable and authentic.
You see, that's it: guys don't seem as comfortable photographing men as they do photographing women. I can see it in the pictures. Their photos of men are forced, more stiffly posed, even stilted. Their photos of women and kids are natural, emotive, graceful.
This wasn't a difficult conclusion for me to make. I think I've been aware of the difference on some kind of subconscious level for a long time, and seeing all these portfolios, all these people pictures, just (if you'll permit the pun) brought it into focus. And frankly, guys, my photos don't show that difference--men, women, children, I approach and shoot the same way--so I think achieving that focus was fairly easy.
But I didn't call you all together here just to tell you about the difference. I want to talk about why there is a difference. You see, I'm pretty sure I'm right, but I need your help figuring out the why of the deal.
The first thing I thought of was that men are afraid of taking photographs
of other men because they think their motive might be misinterpreted. What do
you think? Do you think men traveling here and abroad don't feel comfortable
approaching other men for pictures? Do you think that at a fashion or lifestyle
shoot, men avoid giving to men the kind of praise and encouragement that's
become a cliché between women models and photographers? I know I don't.
I'm a talk and touch photographer. "That's it, that's
the look, you got it...you look great!" I say things like that to
men and woman all the time because it's how I work and, more importantly,
it's just how I am. I'll gently guide models into position, and
when I lower the camera I'll pat someone on the back or shoulder and say,
"Great job...we got it."
Are you uncomfortable with that when it's a man you're shooting? Is there fear of intimacy, of rejection, of being taken the wrong way?
Hold on, hold on--before you answer, I've got two more things for you.
One: why is this important? Because you miss opportunities when you don't get the most from all your subjects. Overcome this and you get better pictures, better portfolios, better photo albums.
Two: what can you do about it if you agree that it's true?
Easy. The key word is subjects. You're shooting people; take gender
out of the picture. You'd take race out of the picture, wouldn't
you? And nationality? My motto: all people are created subjects for my camera.
What you're seeing in my pictures of men are pictures of subjects.
Think about what I've said here and let me know your take. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, and please make sure the fire's out before you leave.