Gender and self portraiture

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Poco, Jul 23, 2007.

Gender and self portraiture?

  1. I'm male and like being in front of the camera

    25 vote(s)
    20.2%
  2. I'm male and don't like being in front of the camera

    79 vote(s)
    63.7%
  3. I'm female and like being in front of the camera

    4 vote(s)
    3.2%
  4. I'm female and don't like being in front of the camera

    16 vote(s)
    12.9%
  1. Poco

    Poco Member

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    A couple years ago the local art gallery had a large, eclectic photography show that included one gallery given over to self-portraiture. There were photographers pictured dressed as belonging to different ethnic groups, as TV personalities, as family members, and as themselves in various guises. But the interesting thing is that they were all female -- something I noticed without comment to my lady companion until I read the intro to the room (of course, on the way out) which itself acknowledged the obvious fact. The discussion that followed got heated, things were said, and I admit the words "self-obsessed" may have come out of my mouth. It got ugly quick.

    Obviously, I'm not looking to repeat anything like that here *. In fact, after thinking about it, I've come to almost admire the kind of self awareness and acceptance that would make you want to routinely be at the business end of your own camera. But I still wonder how many males have reached that point as opposed to females, and why? There's a Chuck Close for every Cindy Sherman, but IS there really? For every one? I don't think so.



    *But just in case, I've waited for two years to post this for moderators to be at their top "thread closing" form.
     
  2. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member

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    Coincidentally, I was reminded of the work of Arno Rafael Minkkinnen earlier today, and I would say, he's made some of the most interesting self portraits out there.

    http://www.arnorafaelminkkinen.org/
     
  3. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Thanks for the link, Suzanne. Great portfolios and many of those just make you smile.
     
  4. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm may be self obsessed, but I think I like posing because I know how and I understand the medium -- in my own way-- and therefore prefer working with a more knowledgeable model. ;-7 having said that I have shot far fewer self-portraits as I have other portraits.
     
  5. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I *hate* being photographed. In one sense, it is a defensive tactic: I place myself on the end of the camera with the film in it, so I am not in the field of view - the other end - in front of the lens.

    I don't think those of us with this phobia are alone. The beloved (sniff!) Camera and Darkroom once ran an essay containing the images of a photographer (name escapes me at the moment) who set out on a quest to photograph the "famous photographers" of the day. His comment after five years of trying, "That's it - I'm DONE! I'll never try that again. Worst possible collection of "models" there could ever be - self-conscious, elusive, evasive..."

    One of the subjects was a fashion photographer working in Paris, named "Sasha". In twenty-five years she had NEVER allowed a photograph of herself to be taken. After a monumental amount of pleading and groveling, cajoling, begging ... She let him take *ONE* photograph. One. After he showed her the result, she astounded him by saying that she LIKED it!!

    I think you might get an idea of how much I like to be photographed from my avatar. That IS me, done by me - protection afforded courtesy of the Tilley hat and Hasselblad.
     
  6. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

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    I actually only like being in front of a camera that I am also operating. Self portraits are OK. Snapshots of me bother the hell out of me. Irrational, but hey...
     
  7. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Okay, we can stop this thread. I totally forgot about Callow and he alone blows the thesis to hell. First he's a frying pan, now he's a clown ...even Sherman never posed as a kitchen utensil.
     
  8. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    Whitey, you beat me to it. I was about to say that I'm not sure the poll as written measures anything about self-portraiture. Being comfortable using oneself as a subject isn't the same thing as liking to have your picture taken by someone else; the poll seems to measure the latter rather than the former. I hate having my picture taken, but have made several self-portraits, not because I'm self-obsessed, but for random reasons: once I just happened to inadvertently take a picture of myself reflected in a window, and liked the colors and shapes of the accidental picture so well I printed it; once I wanted a picture of breasts; since I happen to have some, I used mine for the sake of convenience. But it wasn't about me, it was about breasts, and if you think I would pose nude for anyone but myself, you are completely out of your mind.
     
  9. Wyno

    Wyno Member

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    I usually hate having myself in front of a camera, even when I'm the one taking the picture, but I have just done some nude photos of one of the mature age women I work with. To get a better understanding of what it is like, I have volunteered to pose nude for one of the art students majoring in photography. This person is female so it will be interesting to see how she "sees" me. I might have to try again with a male photographer and then again doing it myself, just to see the differences in their attitude to me and how I see myself.
    Hopefully they won't portray me in too bad a light. (Pun intended)
    Mike
     
  10. wfe

    wfe Member

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    For my money Cig Harvey has some of the most amazing self portraits I've ever seen. I've also had the pleasure of working with her.
    http://www.cigharvey.com

    Personally I don't mind being in front of the camera but I'm a terrible model so I suppose that's a no for me.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i have taken more portraits of others than of me, but just the same,
    i don't mind making self portraits, or someone asking me to sit or stand or ...
    don't know, there is something about making your own or having a portriat made
    ... its nice

    ... BUT having said that, i can't stand snapshots.

    john
     
  12. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Reading the OP, one thought immediately, came to mind.

    It's from the musical "Rent" (a.k.a. the ripped-off, Rock version of La Boehme) where one of the characters (female) admonishes the main character (male) as solely an "observer"; "narrator"; just the guy always "behind the videocam" so that he hides behind the lens. In a "lament" to which he does agree that it gives him a detachment from participation.

    Somehow, the show wouldn't have "worked" if that gender role was opposite.

    It really does seem as if the icon is always a "guy" behind the camera. Even as we celebrate many women photogs - one of the Disney logos shows Mickey (not Minnie) behind the giant camera!

    EDIT: I didn't vote in the poll. I hate these kinds of polls. It reminds me of RFF!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 23, 2007
  13. papagene

    papagene Membership Council

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    Ya, but I got a good portrait of Bill's and your feet!! :D :D :rolleyes:

    gene
     
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  15. dmr

    dmr Member

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    I'm not at all ashamed of how I look by any means, and I do think for my age I'm fairly well preserved, but I just feel more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. :smile:
     
  16. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    I enjoy being photographed and photographing myself (not that I've done it that much). I think it helps to feel and act positive about it if you are going to ask others to do the same for you.
     
  17. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    My friend (male) does lots of great self portraits. I do a few and am trying for an analog self portrait once a week as part of the 52weeks project on flickr (which is like 365days but for lazy/busy people). I just don't like them enough to post them to the gallery here. And "self portrait" is stretched so it can include just a hand/finger/toe/occasional shadow so you can be slightly coy and shy :smile:
     
  18. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    I LOATHE being in front of the camera. Part of it is indeed a body image issue. I'm not the svelte thing I once was, and so I don't feel comfortable being photographed because I don't like how I look in pictures. I especially don't want to pose nude for the camera, but there are a very few people who could convince me to do so, because of my comfort level with them. I have to be very comfortable with someone to let them point a camera at me, clothed or otherwise.
     
  19. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Your response brings up an unrelated, interesting point: how often the "nude" question comes up when approaching people to photograph. I hate asking people to pose for me and I'm sure have only done so less than a dozen times, but on three occasions I've had people's eyes go wide as they assumed I meant nude, and (even stranger) twice had them bring up the topic themselves, wanting to pose that way.
     
  20. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    The poll statistics are useless as given by the computer; the way it actually comes out at this point (57 responses) is

    males: 30% (14/47) are okay with being photographed; 70% (33/47) are not.
    females: 30% (3/10) are okay with being photographed; 70% (7/10) are not

    (however, it should be noted that there are so few responses for females that results should be interpreted cautiously, even beyond the normal caution for interpreting any voluntary poll like this). At any rate, the gender difference apparently expected by the original poster doesn't seem to be showing up.

    By the way, what's the deal with having the last response option (female who doesn't like being photographed) in italics when the other response options are in normal font style. Perhaps this was inadvertent.
    Katharine
     
  21. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Katherine- that's just showing you how YOU voted. My vote of "male who doesn't like being photographed" is in italics for me.
     
  22. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Katherine,

    Small sample size is only one of the poll's problems. The bias within the very question might create a prickly reaction in some people that affects their vote. I only included the poll because they're fun once in a while.
     
  23. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    My arms are not long enough for self portraits.
     
  24. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    Aahhh, thanks! It's like an instant exit poll. Interesting.
     
  25. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    Tell me; why did you bother taking a poll at all, if you were so certain of your theory that if the poll didn't come out the way you expected, you would explain it away by saying that the results were skewed because people reacted defensively to the question? I assure you, my answer was a true and honest answer, and would have been the same even if the question hadn't been posed so provocatively and with such an obvious bias. I really hate having my picture taken, but I also have made a few self-portraits. It's a factual answer, but perhaps not as cut and dried as you would like.

    People tend to behave in a less gender-stereotyped way (or less stereotyped on the basis of any arbitrary categorization) than those who see people as stereotypes would like to believe. We're all a lot more the same, than we are different. My 2cents.
     
  26. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    This is probably correct, at least in terms of the subject matter here.

    What's even stranger is by having the poll here on APUG - the potential "population" to be polled is comprised almost exclusively of photographers (and film ones, at that) - who, by definition, tend to find themselves behind the lens a lot more often than in front!