A Woman, Thinking

Against a Wall as a Feminist Photographer

Because GRRLS Rock!, Life as a PhotographerPoppy Lochridge3 Comments

Up against a wall
Originally uploaded by foto_bob

In the last couple of months, there's been several things about my hobby that have tweaked my nerves one way or another. First, there was the shoot in May where I walked away with all of 11 pictures - and most of those were set-up test shots - because once the models arrived, I was uncomfortable with the amount of playing to the "male gaze" going on.

June was better - everyone seemed to have fun, and the models, although dressed to appeal, weren't groping and hanging off of each other like they were auditioning for "Girls Gone Wild".

Somewhere in between, it started to dawn on me what was making me uncomfortable and the reasons behind it.

See, out of the usual groups of photographers, I'm often the only woman, and almost always the only feminist - and the only one educated in this area of media theory.

Take this image, for example. (click on it to access larger view). As a photographer, I looked at it and offered the feedback that the image, the pose, the choice of background.... suggest strong, independent, uncaring what the viewer thinks. And yet, that obvious nipple detracts from it *as an image*. Plus, it's something that most women might find embarrassing. It would be very easy in post-processing to photoshop it out or minimize, and I really think it would make a stronger picture.

The response from Bob, the photographer, addressed the second half of that concern - the model saw the picture before it was published and was ok with it. And since he's the photographer and presumably knows what his intention with the picture was, he has no obligation to respond to me on the first point.

What got me was the next commenter, HUBCAM, who said

"I think we're all the better for it."

What an ignorant and privileged thing to say! It sounds to me as though he is saying that what he wants, appreciates, and enjoys is more important than what the person in the image is comfortable with and even more important than the image being a stronger image with a consistent "story".

I'm rather glad I don't know who this person is, because I'd be twice as offended if we'd met. Shame on you HUBCAM, for putting your puriescent preferences ahead of art and human dignity.