Opinion: Channel your feminine side for creative photography


Let me start with a caveat. I don’t think all men can be dumped in one camp and all women in another. But, there are some traits that are more typical of men than women and vice versa. And the two can learn from each other.

One trait that I have noticed on several occasions is that women tend to be drawn by emotion or atmosphere when taking pictures. They are experiencing something and they want to capture the feeling they get from it in a picture. Meanwhile, men tend to be more interested in the mechanics of their camera and the technical challenge of a particular subject.

When I was teaching photography in an adult education center, for example, women often presented their images with an explanation of the type of day they had before photographing them. In some cases, they would show me a second image they took of the same subject after adjusting their camera settings. And often they didn’t know what they had done but they liked the impact.

This usually leads to a conversation about the technical side of the setting change they made. I could, for example, explain the impact of the aperture value on the depth of field. And as a result, they would leave to experiment with openness and how it would help them deliver a message.

Meanwhile, men in the same class tended to present their images with an explanation of the settings they were using. In many cases, the images were direct shots.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. Women will not be able to convey their emotion or their message without some technical ability. But also, images of purely technical value often arouse no interest.

The challenge

The challenge for men is that it is much easier to learn the technicalities of photography than the emotional and creative side. Yet having an emotional connection to the subject often leads to more memorable images. The stories behind the pictures are also more interesting.

I find that women tend to describe the image they want to create more easily than men. They might not know how to achieve it, but they know the look they are aiming for. Men, on the other hand, tend to explain what the subject is, thinking less about what they want it to look like in the photo. So men need to look a bit more like women and think about the end result much earlier in the process of capturing an image.

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