So a few weeks back I did a test shoot for Casey, a local aspiring model. After I started showing some of the photos online, I received comments from multiple girls I know in regards to him being “easy on the eyes” (to put it politely). And I can agree in straight sort of way – I mean, he certainly is not some troll that I found under a local overpass at all, is he? But what really struck me was a couple of the girls’ comments to me in particular. These comments were more about me posting the photos than Casey himself. They told me that they respected me for having the courage to post the photos online for others to see – stating that they felt a lot of male photographers would have no interest in photographing a male model in such a way, much less posting them online to be seen. Basically saying that a lot of male “photographers” they knew would feel that it was in some way a showing of homosexuality or lack of manliness.
This came as somewhat of a shock to me based on the photos that I was showing. Why would any photographer feel that way over showing nicely done and effective photos? Moderate insecurity? Yeah, for sure. But it goes deeper than that – some of these “photographers” see very little value in photographs or photography in general unless it involves a scantly clad woman. Why do I say this?
Ever since I got into photography on a professional level I have told many people that I am a photographer when asked what I do for a living. Women usually are much more interested in this. They might want to know more about what or whom I photograph. And then if I actually show them my work they seem to really take interest in not only the work – but also who the subjects are in most cases. They want to hear stories about the work.
On the flip side -- not always, but more often than not -- when I tell random guys I am a photographer they might express interest in hearing more about it from me. Well, countless times I have had them look briefly at a photo or two of mine and say something along the lines of “Wow dude, you’re really good! You should go be a photographer for Playboy or something like that. Got any pictures like that you can show me – I wanna see them.” Ok – so yes it is always good getting a compliment – even the ones that sound ignorant like what I have paraphrased above, I guess. Maybe I should be flattered that they see my work as being of good enough value to grace the pages of Playboy magazine. But other than this I am pretty put off by this attitude. It is as if they feel that my work or any other photographer’s work is of no value unless it shows attractive women wearing little to nothing. I get pretty sick of hearing it -- and I know I shouldn’t, but I actually take it as an insult sometimes.
Ok – so yes – I can agree that there is a certain “cool factor” with getting paid to photograph beautiful women for Playboy magazine. It is probably seen as one of the top dream jobs for a lot of guys out there. But do these guys really care about getting to see or interact with a lot of naked women all day? No – you can do that at any strip club with a lot less work and effort involved. So what it is? I’ll tell you what it is – it’s the status they would have amongst their buddies. They want to have the bragging rights for being a “Playboy Photographer”. That is the real draw – which brings us to “that guy”.
My buddy (and talented photographer) Lee Starnes and I were talking about “that guy” just the other day and expressing our frustration over him. “That guy” is the guy that cruises Model Mayhem 24/7, looking for young girls to photograph in next to nothing. “That guy” is the guy that has really no interest in photographing anything but scantily-clad women. “That guy” is the guy that more often than not has questionable skills as a photographer. “That guy” is the guy that might not have any idea how to interact with women in general – much less a highly attractive one without using his camera as a crutch. “That guy” is the guy that gets into photography just because that is the only way he is able to get a girl to acknowledge his existence. “That guy” is the guy who would be hard pressed to get a woman to just remove her clothes for him or so much as even consider for a nanosecond the idea of sleeping with him. And most importantly “that guy” is the guy who gives the rest of the male photographers out there a reputation as being creeps in some cases.
Don’t be that “that guy”. Sure, it is ok to appreciate a beautiful woman – Lord knows I do. And yes, it is ok to photograph them, too -- but don’t ever think that they are the end all, be all of the entire photography world. And when you do photograph them be professional about it: No, it’s not ok to hit on them while working with them. Or assume they are into you because they might be looking at your camera as if they are longing for your loins. It is their job to look that way for your camera and any other way you might request of them if they are a professional or aspiring model. As the photographer it is your job to make that easier by working to put them at ease as best you can – and a real good place to start is by not being “that guy” – because they most likely will not be fooled by your façade.
Please note that this post was not written with the intention of putting down photographers that do nudes, fashion photography, etc. in a professional, tasteful, or artistic way. It is a field of photography that requires a certain skill set that not all professional photographers have and I respect that. This post was created and written with the sole intention of A.) Giving the ladies something to look at while mocking any male that might look down on me for doing so and B.) Hopefully making “that guy” aware he is doing himself and the photo industry no favors by aspiring to shoot nothing but women wearing next to nothing with less than honorable intentions.
For those interested in technical side of these shots: They were all made with a single moonlight and large Octobox boomed out just above and in front of Casey. I had the subject standing maybe fifteen feet from a white cyc wall. The one exception to this is of the tight-in headshot, which was made with the same lighting rig. It was placed at a forty-five degree angle to his face at camera left and a little high to get the classic Rembrandt-style lighting. Special thanks to Scott Moore for assisting for me on the shoot and staying on top of things while doing so -- and to Casey for being a real down-to-earth, easygoing subject to work with.