Model: Tobias T
I won’t label myself as a feminist only to be branded as “correct” but I do believe in equality and equal rights. Some time ago I read a statement saying something like “There won’t be any true equality between men and women before we also bring mens’ problems up to discussion”. My reaction to this was first “What?” and the next second “Yes, that’s right”. There will be no real changes unless we understand what stops the progression and why. This may, in some cases, mean that we will have to seek other paths on the way forward, but it won’t matter in the long run.
It was a pure coincidence that I made me work mostly with male models. When I decided to begin photographing models, I had no portfolio to show and one is not likely to get any sessions without a portfolio to sort of showcase what one is capable of – claiming long experience is not enough. I had to accept facts and wrote that I didn’t mind working with beginners. The first model who contacted me happened to be a young man and I accepted to do a session with him faster than the speed of light.
It was at this stage, after a couple of weeks in the amateur model world, that I understood that male models weren’t precisely in demand. The site, or rather, community I had became a member of had some male models but only three of them shared the opportunities to get photographed and to be a little creative. The rest seemed to be invisible and this meant that I saw a load of opportunities to get pictures, experience and opportunities to show my work and it worked!
My intention was to switch over to female models, but a friend of mine wondered if that was a smart thing to do, because I had by then a kind of niche and would leaving that be good for me? He was probably right, so I stayed with mainly working with male models. I learned from a couple of them that very few photographers wanted to work with male models, mostly because they thought it was too difficult, they claimed they didn’t know how to photograph men and so on.
Not admitting that there has been times when my choice felt a bit embarrasing would be like telling you a lie, but I kept working with male models (and I don’t care what people may think, I’m not ashamed of it). I also looked for tutorials on YouTube and found many more or less scientific hints and tips about how to photograph female models. There weren’t many tutorials available on the subject “Male models” and the few I found suggested one pose – two at the most – assuring that it would always work. Maybe it will, but using one or two poses would mean that my work would look “same, same but different” – in other words more a matter of swapping models, possible use a different light setting now and then. How very creative… not!
In most cases I have been old enough to be the models’ father and I have learned a lot from them about what is going on in a young man’s head today. It is often a battle between the stereotype and the individual’s own personality. There is a kind of role model one should try to be like, but what if your personal qualities, interests, body or mind doesn’t comply with it? I believe many often are acting; they behave the way they think they should when others are near and can see and/or hear them, but can relax by being themselves when among family and, probably, a few carefully selected friends.
Probably needless to say that this solution causes trouble and problems and as I wanted to do more than just classic portraits and standard model pictures which I think lack expression, I decided to take advantage of what I have learned and experienced during these four years by working with more artistic images showing what men think, feel and are facing. It won’t be a complete guide to “What men in fact are like” – that would be impossible – but it can hopefully give those who look at the photos and understand them a hint of the problems men have, thereby making it possible to talk about them and come up with solutions about how to proceed. In the end, I don’t think it’s all about shoveling men away and replace them with women just for the sake of equality – I think it’s more about understanding why we still have “A man’s world” here and there. The more we understand, the easier will the progressive process flow.