Why I Love Being a Female Fashion Photographer

In the mainstream fashion industry there have been alot of talks as to why male fashion photographers seem to be the ones dominating the field. There are several famous women that we would all recognize their names (Annie Leibovitz, Ellen von Unwerth..) but the thought of them is easily overshadowed by the long list of male greats such as Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton and Patrick Demarchelier. Some would venture to say that men are able to elicit more sex appeal (and yes, sex does sell) from their female models, others say that women don't have as clear of an understanding of what they want from their subjects. What do you think?

I will follow up on this post by weighing in on my opinion as to why the fashion photography scene seems to be male dominated. For now though I am going to discuss some of the reasons I love being a female fashion photographer and some of the advantages I feel females have over men in this industry.

Ability to Create a Comfortable Environment
In my experience of working with female models there is no end to the stories I have heard about models having to work with a "creepy" male photographers. Many female models have had that experience with the male photographer that was too gawky, too touchy, asked for inappropriate or overtly sexual poses, asked for more clothes to be removed and even go as far as asking to go on a date or have sex after the shoot. Much can be said about everyone knowing the importance of boundaries but experiences like these could scar a model and affect her performance, confidence and poise on shoots in the future. I believe when working with a female photographer the comfort level is at a much better point. It is scary enough to book a shoot, show up to a location you may have never been, meet someone you have never met and then put yourself in a "vulnerable" (mentally, physically and emotionally) position in front of their camera. Trust is so important and I feel that woman are able to have a different connection in front and behind the camera because the comfort level is different than with male photographers. 

Understanding of the Female Form
Women know how women feel. Simple as that. Men understand how a woman looks good, obviously because they pose them how they and other men would want to see them. Women understand how other women will feel good. Regardless of how awesome a pose looks, you are not going to get the best out of your model if she is uncomfortable with what you are asking her to do. How many times have we seen a model grabbing a "sexy" pose but with a blank, pained or confused expression on her face? Female photographers have the unique opportunity to not only pose the female models in the most flattering way but also make her feel empowered and sexy in a way that is so much more than just physical appearance. And trust me, when you feel empowered on the inside, it will show on the outside with the posing the facial expression and feeling of the image. Those are the keepers.

Ability to Illicit Feelings vs Thoughts
Let's face it, while there are many exceptions (myself being one), women are generally the "feelers" while men are the "thinkers". Fashion photography is so much about the ability to convey a feeling. The best fashion images and the best editorials are the ones that tell a story and the ones that can cause the viewer to have an emotional response to what they are seeing. I believe (and granted this one may be a stretch because everyone is different) that women have a better understanding of what acting out a feeling means. We know the faces and the demeanor that express grief, anger, depression, lust and pain. We know the posture that our bodies take when we feel certain ways. I feel like when a female photographer tells a female model an emotion they would like them to embody, there is an understanding of exactly what they emotion looks like in human form. Obviously the photographers ability to convey their thoughts and ideas is mandatory to gain any sort of response. But I believe some of the most emotional (not talking sexy or seductive) and touching images I have seen have been shot by female photographers.

In closing I would say that there a both phenomenal male and female fashion photographers, both with strengths and weaknesses. These are simply some of my experiences and observations in the fashion industry thus far. I may sound biased to women in this post but admittedly most of my favorite work has been shot by male photographers. Why? I don't know. Where do you stand on this issue? Discussion time.


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