However, after searching, begging (on my part), and planning, I was able to convince one of my amazing guy friends to model for me! So what if he lives in Colorado! Psh, I was going to be out there in April anyway! Aweeeesome!!!!! I couldn't wait! Although, I could tell he was really nervous! After planning out what I wanted the shoot to look like, and going over wardrobe ideas and options with him, we had it all planned out. But, there's a saying that starts with, "The best laid plans...."
Timing proves to never be my friend. I always think I have things planned down to the minute, then time laughs and says, "NOPE!". We managed to get about half of what I wanted done, but ran out of time. The curse of catching up with a friend while trying to shoot? Talking (and prior commitment) tends to get in the way. We wrapped with the promise (ok, maybe I "threatened" him a little bit) that when I go back in July we will finish the rest of the shoot.
Anyhow, that's not the point that I'm getting at with this post.
We had this AMAZING shoot. I got some great shots, that I'm very happy with and super proud of. But, it was everything that followed that has shocked me.
I finished editing his images, and sent him the gallery. Waiting to hear what he had to say, almost on pins and needles (something most photographers can relate to). I have full confidence in my abilities to capture and deliver a final product that will please the client (or friend!), but one never knows what the initial reaction will be.
His reaction? (And I'm totally calling him out on this) "I wish I had worked harder", "I wish I had more definition in my arms/back/abs", "I look like I have love handles". My mouth pretty much hit the floor. Really???? Can this really be coming from a strong male? From someone who dedicates a lot of his time to the gym and being fit? A man that, even though he's happily married, still turns the heads of women when he walks in a room? I was shocked. The vulnerability of a man never fails to shock me. As a woman, I assumed it was only women who suffer from self-esteem issues. I mean, you look through Facebook or Pinterest and women post/pin Healthy Recipes, Fitness Routines, and Diets far more than men do (who usually post about Beer, Bacon and hot women!). But, why can't a man feel self-conscious about the way he looks? Do they really have to be immune to feeling insecure?
His reaction reaffirmed that Male Portraits can be just as important as Women's portraits/Boudoir.
I wish that's where it ended. But it isn't. Shortly after he reviewed the gallery, I shared one of his images on my business Facebook Page. I like to share the images I'm particularly proud of, and seeing their images displayed gives the subject a small boost of confidence when they see that I'm not the only who likes something! (Silly, I know, but it's the truth. We like validation from others!)
Well, his image got likes and it got views, and even a couple comments (that totally made me laugh! I have some funny friends!!). It was great! But, it was the behind the scenes messages and emails that I got that made me pause. I was shocked that I was getting notes ranging from, "Why Male portraits?" to "What does your Husband have to say about shooting something like this?", and even, "Is everything ok with you and your husband??". Um, what? I wasn't entirely sure how I should respond to some of these people. But, I did, and I laughed off the questions. But, here I am, a few weeks later, and I'm still wondering about these questions.
Is it not okay for a Female Photographer to photograph a Male? Is something like this indicative of a troubled marriage? When did Art have to have so many "rules"? At no point did I ever feel unsafe, as I was with a very trusted friend (who is also married, as I have said). My husband was fully aware of the shoot and what I wanted the pictures to look like (I talk to him about all of my artistic ideas and plans, and ask his opinions about them). Is there some sort of "GuideBook" to how a woman is supposed to photograph a man?
After thinking all of these questions through, I've come up with my response.
First and foremost, my Husband and I are just fine. He is amazingly supportive of every crazy ass idea that pops into my head that I think would be fun to photograph--from graffiti in some of the scariest neighborhoods, to half naked/naked women in hotel rooms, and even other men. And I love him for that. Support in a marriage is a must, and I'm lucky to have such a supportive and loving husband.
Secondly, and I said this on Facebook, the human body is beautiful in any form. No 2 people are alike. Whether they're male or female. And, nobody should feel like they can't look amazing on film. Self-confidence doesn't come in women's size only. Men should be reminded that they, too, can be confident in how they look.
I'm in the business of showing people how they truly look....of giving them a boost of confidence when they might not really feel it. And, to me, that's gender neutral.
Now.....to convince OTHER guys it's ok to get in front of the camera, too! (Stay tuned for the second part of our unfinished photo-shoot in July)