Displays of hyper-masculinity in amateur photography

Something I’m really interested in is the way that men are depicted in the media, especially when it comes to photography. A while ago I spent some time exploring what it was like to shoot glamour images of men and that involved spending time looking at lots of pictures of men (oh gosh… what a hardship…).

Immersing myself in the world of amateur model photographers was a fascinating experience, especially since I came at it from the angle of photographing men rather than women. As you can imagine this particular subset of the hobby is rather dominated by photographers photographing attractive young women and initially placing photographs of men in front of this demographic appeared to cause active discomfort.

However as time went on I noticed a trend in that more of these male photographers were adding male models to their portfolios (I shan’t speculate on the reasons why this might have been the case, that is for another blog post) but that the tropes that they were photographing were in many cases as damaging as the way that women were being depicted.

Weapons. Lots of them. It seemed that if you normally photographed sexy women and you’d decided to photograph a man instead, then they had to come with a sword or a gun or some other display of violence. This hyper-masculine portrayal of the male models seemed to equate ‘sexy’ with ‘violent’ in a way that has far ranging and extraordinarily worrying implications.

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I too spent some time with the ever-wonderful Seb Morgan putting together a video based loosely on martial arts and dodgy b-movies and we got this: http://youtu.be/9BMf2aZWigI as well as some stills photography. I tried to focus on the mediative aspects of the weapon rather than the aggression that other photographers portrayed.

If I succeeded or not is down to my viewers, but it has to be worth trying to break the stereotypes down that link men’s sexuality to overt aggression and even violence.

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