I take issue with the insistence of imposing a gendered/sexual structure on the process of image-making. I'm not saying you can't make the case (which I think he can argue, but it's certainly not absolute or indisputable). If you want to go down that road, you can open yourself up to a queer theory critique of heteronormatization of the photographic process, imposing a feminine gender on the camera and a masculine gender on the photographer who by virtue of the process as outlined by Van Leir would become the insertor of the content into the camera. The whole world is not organized into phallic and vaginal dualities - there are things which are clearly neuter (rocks, rivers, oceans) and things that are utterly gender-defiant (are all trees phallic and all caves vaginal? what about trees with knotholes? Stalactites within caves? Is the dome of the US Capitol phallic? Is it a female breast? what about trans-people/hermaphrodites?). The camera would certainly fall into that hermaphroditic tradition - the function may be genital/vaginal, but the object itself is outwardly phallic. The process of taking the photograph has been described throughout the history of photography as an invasive, dominant, penetrative act, which makes the decision to locate the act of photographic creation as genital/vaginal rather counter-intuitive. As a photographer, regardless of personal physical gender, I must employ a phallus that is in turn itself penetrated and impregnated by the action of taking the picture? No matter the locus of and relationship of genders of the subject and the photographer, the camera becomes a queer object because it both penetrates and is penetrated. It is both intimate and alienating by interposition between the photographer and the subject.

I refuse to buy into the "unknowable black box" approach to describing the camera and the photographic medium, because we can and do know absolutely what happens when each and every photograph is made. If we did not, cameras would not work. They would work as well as magic does - upon performing the ritual, if the ritual succeeds, it is because we performed it correctly, but if it fails, there was something we did not take into account or failed at, despite everything being performed in a scientifically controlled environment. I CAN take the exact same picture twice in a studio. I cannot guarantee the harvest with a ritual sheep sacrifice, even if I were to do everything in my power to control equally consistent with the first time I sacrificed a sheep and got a good crop.