Men / Women and Photography

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by sam_chua, Feb 5, 2005.

  1. I've noticed this interesting phenomenon.

    Tell a guy you're into photography, chances are that he'll ask "what
    camera do you use"

    Tell a gal you're into photography, she'll probably ask "what do you
    take pictures of"

    I just found that kinda interesting.
  2. This is a common conception. Has it been verified by any kind of survey, or is this merely another one of those 'common sense truths' that we 'all' assume to be true without actually finding out whether it is or not?! (I don't know, but I've seen no attempt to verify this 'knowledge' either.)
  3. See if you can get hold of Alan Pease's book "Why men don't listen and Women can't read maps".

    Pease argues that due to the roles the sexes fell into in the early evolution of mankind there were advantages to different traits in each. So men (in general) and women (in general) do have differences - though it is dangerous to try to force-fit a specific man or woman to these templates. For example women will want to talk about their day, and men will treat this as being brought a problem to solve ... women can hear quiet sounds than men, but men can tell the direction more acurately than women and so on.

    Interest in tools is a generally male trait Pease would probably argue this is down to ancient men making spears :)
  4. Painting with a broad brush.....
  5. I'm with Neil D. I would like to see some data to back up your claim. Personally, I don't recall ever getting either response.
  6. try going out and asking.
    it feels like this is the general way things happen.
  7. John said, Painting with a broad brush.....
    Has Sam stereotyped his friends? I'm sorry to say so, but I think he has. Yes, maybe gender has something to do with the responses he's received from his miniscule survey. But it is ridiculous to say that his data shows this. The few friends he is referring to are complex individuals with many factors contributing to why they have the interests that the have. I'm sorry, but it is just plain silly to disregard all this and jump to the conclusion that gender explains what he heard.
    But, if he had hundreds of such conversations, then perhaps the gender effect would stand out from all the other important factors that play a role in determining our interests. It's like the signal-to-noise ratio issue. And when you see what you want to see in the noise of a small sampling, that is a prejudice.
    Brian said, I would like to see some data ...
    Brian, I suppose that if you got more data -- lots of data -- you would surely measure a difference between the sexes. Then how would this data get used? There is a good way and a bad way. Let me explain:
    Imagine that you're explaining to a gal all about the latest gear you have, and you see her eyes glaze over. Then it's helpful to remember this kind of gender-difference data -- it's a clue that people can have widely diverse interests for perfectly natural reasons. That's a good thing to understand and remember. (But also remember that her eyes may glaze over because she had a hard day working at a camera store.)
    Now imagine that a gal voices an opinion about the latest gear you have and you dismiss her opinions because you believe that chicks really aren't into gear. That is the kind of behavior that is upsetting. That is painting individuals with a broad brush. That is stereotyping people based on generalizations, even though the generalizations may be based on reliable data! That is good data used the wrong way.
  8. I believe Sam was just making an innocent satirical comment, not reporting on some in-depth financially backed sociological study. Easy does it now.
  9. Yes, you're right, Daniel. That was a bit over the top. My apologies to Sam for letting my rant sound like a personal attack. I meant to chew on the issue, not on him.
  10. Anecdotally speaking, I would agree with Sam. I have taken over twenty photography classes at local colleges here in Milwaukee and I think women are naturally better photographers than men. Many men do concern themselves with equipment matters much more than most women that I have had in my classes. To generalise once more, doctors and engineers (male or female) are the worst photographers, they spend so much time trying to figure out how to do something that they never do it. The engineers and doctors also think they are so smart that they should be able to produce Avedon type immediately. When their work proves to be mediocre, they blame the instructor. None of my observations are scientific but feel free to ask me about any profession, I have seen and worked with them all. Don't ask about wedding photographers though, I would be forced to lie through my teeth.
  11. Well, I certainly wasn't having a go at Sam myself; I was merely asking for some background support for his statement (by the way Sam: replying with "try going out and asking. it feels like this is the general way things happen."seems not to be defending your position at all - instead, it suggests that you have no evidence to back up you claim whatsoever!!).
    Satire can get lost along the way with "emotionless" text as the only means of communication!! (and I'm chuckling here now, not fuming!! LOL!!)
  12. Anecdottaly speakink...I think those photogs who fancy themselves as being great photogs...comink in all sizes and shapes, not neccessarily restricted to just Doktors und Engineerinky types :)
  13. That's my observation as well. I'll ask a photographer, "What do you shoot?" an
    intentionally ambiguous question. Guess how it's answered, based on gender...
  14. For an overall generalization, I'd say your probably right... but in general I frown upon such generalizations because more times than not, its used as a reason (excuse) to behave negatively towards females. For years, girls & women have been overlooked in the classrooms when it comes to maths & sciences based on such excuses. Also, I do not believe such differences are brought on via biology. I think its environmental... nurture i/o nature, IOW. We women are taught throughout life that gear, equipment, tools, etc... are not for us in surprisingly subtle ways. Almost all tests that measure this kind of aptitude are also biased. A lot of us are naturally apt towards all things mechanical, electronic & similar just like a lot of guys... but we are subtly (and a lot of times, not subtly at all) pushed away from such things our whole lives. Few women ever take advantage of this natural aptitude.
  15. my apologies for not reading the entire thread.<p>
    i've found that men who hear that i'm a photographer want to know what interests me, why i like what i like.<br>
    women, on the other hand, always ask...."what camera do you use?"
  16. John, you must be an engineer, I know you can't be a doctor.
  17. In my photography class, the men will go out of their way to buy the newest and fanciest gear they can get hold of. The women will tend use whatever they could borrow or whatever was workable.

    The end result.

    About the same *LOL* Neither Gender seems to take better pictures.

    I wasn't putting down women or painting with a broad brush. I was just merely pointing out what seemed to happen most of the time.
  18. There's nothing wrong with that. It's GOOD that we, men and women, are different.
  19. The last time I told a woman I am a photogrpher she said, "That's wonderful, pick up your meal at the next window." ba bum G.E.
  20. Here's something I found in the July 2004 issue of Professional Photographer:

    Carol Andrews, M.Photog.Cr., of Houston, has a fresh spin on networkin to present at this year's PPA-sponsored Women in Photography Retreat.

    PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER: What is the calue of a photography retreat without men?

    CAROL ANDREWS: I was amazed last year to hear a different language, and common threads spoken by all the presenters. It's the language of mothers, sisters and daughters, all spoken deeply from the heart. The emphasis was on the spirit of photography. I don't think I heard an ISO or f/stop mentioned the entire conference.
  21. The people I discuss photography with rarely talk equipment or technical details as they're usually not germain to the image itself.

    The only time equipment comes up is when there's a shift in image making. I have a friend who's well known for his documentary photos using 35mm. When I saw some posed 16x20 portrait prints that were totally different from his previous work, I asked him if he'd changed his working method and he said, "yes, those were all done with a 4x5." That's as far as the equipment discussion went, and it was back to the images.

    However, knowing he'd changed equipment also explained the change in aesthetics and why the look of the images also changed. In this case, knowledge of equipment was important to better understanding the evolution of the work.

    I personally could care less about equipment. The whole idea of f/8 @ 1/60th, 28mm lens, etc. says nothing about the image - I've never understood the penchant for some photographers to label images with that kind of dreck. Or, the need to make it the center piece of image discussion.

    Have never seen a painter label a painting with Windsor Newton 1/2" sable, Rembrandt oils, pre-gesso'd canvas, etc.

    I'm not sure it's a male/female thing, it's more of a personal viewpoint as to what's important - the image or the equipment.

    It's certainly easier to discuss equipment that image because you actually have to think for yourself to discuss the image - while "tech talk" revolves around tangible three-dimensional objects that are really self explanatory in and of themselves.

    I think a lot of men try photography because they get to use mechanical devices that are fun to play with; or, get to go into a darkroom and play mad chemist - and image making is just a by-product. Most women photographers are into it as a means of expression and the technical aspects are just the means to the end.

    If you're of the mechanical-diddly toy penchant that's what's important to you and that's what you want to discuss. It's the same type of conversation you have about custom cars: engines, drive train, paint, etc.

    To get past the camera as toy phase ("I just love the way a Leica feels in my hands..."), you have to want to make photographs and not caress equipment.

    It's not male/female, it's you're personal motivation.
  22. well....i DO love the way my leica IIIf fits my hands, but then ditto for my Hassy etc etc. i don't particularly enjoy talking about exposure details, but as a classic camera collector/user i do very much enjoy discussing the little minute details of various mechanical cameras.
  23. "well....i DO love the way my leica IIIf fits my hands, but then ditto for my Hassy etc etc. i don't particularly enjoy talking about exposure details, but as a classic camera collector/user i do very much enjoy discussing the little minute details of various mechanical cameras."

    Do you collect the equipment to have the equipment, or for it's picture making capability? I understand people who want to own equipment or things because they appreciate the designs. I own a 1941 Chris Craft Custom Runabout & hang out with wooden boat collectors.

    I have a lot of cameras but I don't collect them as such. They're only tools that provide specific capabilities in certain imaging situations.

    I can, however, appreciate the working differences between cameras. A Leica MP is far more to my liking than the M6 I own as the slight control changes, brighter viewfinder, and better metering system make it a more intuitive camera allowing better concentration on the image situation.

    So, to some extent I do understand your comment about how your Leica IIIf fits in your hands. After that I've lost interest & could care less about discussions of mechanical details. I always have the urge to yawn.
  24. i collect only the cameras i actually want to use, so yes, the picture making capability is part of the equation. and, since as we are often told, it is the photographer, not the camera that matters, why go out to take pix with an ugly camera when you can sport a cool looking one? altho, i must say i have my share of ugly box cameras but their retro-ness imparts a certain edgey beauty.
  25. "I think a lot of men try photography because they get to use mechanical devices that are fun to play with; or, get to go into a darkroom and play mad chemist - and image making is just a by-product."
    Damn, that's sharp, man!
    Really hurts bad...
    Ok, seriously, the thing about being technically proficient (i.e., knowing your equipment forwards and backwards) is that it makes the gear become more or less invisible when it comes to getting the shot. You can always tell a newbie by the fact that they're always looking at their camera trying to figure out which end is up, and even then they're not sure if they've gotten it right; when their results aren't spectacular they think it's because they don't have the better camera (or lens or film or software, etc).
    Anyhow, this thread reminds me of a joke currently going around on campus... The guys say Physics is an "O" major. Why? Because when you tell a girl you are one they always say "Oh".
    Better living through chemistry and expensive glass, I say!
  26. rj


    The equipment along with the technical aspects of photography are an important component to my enjoyment of this hobby of mine, however the subject and the resultant images are the true motivation behind my involvement. Guess I'm bisexual, better go tell my wife. ;-)
  27. >The last time I told a woman I am a photogrpher she said, "That's wonderful, pick up your meal at the next window<

    Haha, Glen. You must've just told her she was pretty and you wanted to take her picture??

  28. I'm sure you could make the case that it's related to our evolution but I think that it's much more to do with social conditioning which changes over time. My wife, a languages graduate who was a child in the 'forties, would probably ask 'what photos' but my daughter, now in her thirties and with a son of her own, was never one for dolls and is an electronics engineer. Her first question would likely be 'what camera'.

    It would be interesting to ask this question in another thirty years and see what answers you get.
  29. It's conditioning. What do little boys and girls play with? Boys play with mechanical things and girls play with dolls. It all starts there.
  30. It's a question of what someone knows about. Good photographers are likely to talk about images and things like that and the technology is just a trivial aspect of the work. But most people are not good photographers and they never get beyond the technical problem phase. It's a little difficult to express oneself with drawing if a person can't hold a pen etc.

    Gender affects the interest of a person in two ways: 1) through the differences in biology, brain etc., and 2) through the environment. It doesn't start with the environment, but the biology. Little children are already very very different before they have a chance to realize the gender difference. But no doubt the environment shapes us a great deal especially in school. What can be done? Should something be done? I don't think you can change the way a person thinks nor should it be tried. Changes need to come from within.

    I think it's a complement if someone asks me what is in the photo and the worst is when someone says "You must have a really nice camera." It can't get any worse than that.
  31. "David M wrote -
    It's conditioning. What do little boys and girls play with? Boys play with mechanical things and girls play with dolls. It all starts there."

    David, sorry, but I think it's heredity not environment.

    A long, long time ago (think cave people) the man had to go out and hunt. Remember eating was a pretty big deal. Women had to cook whatever was brought home.

    If you were successful, everyone wanted to know what kind of spear was used. If you were a woman, you wanted to know what it was (how to cook it). Hence the emphasis on tools by men and results by women.

    (Disclaimer: No offense intended to cave people, men, women, hunters, cooks or successful people. :))
  32. I think it is even simpler than hunter/gatherer differences... it comes down to child-bearing - the man just had to make the baby - the woman had to live with the consequences for nine months at a minimum. Talk about the difference between the implement and the method.... Certainly out of this fundamental difference, tons of social engineering has happened over the past multi-millennia to enforce and encode the acceptance of this distinction. There are lots of men who will care about the why of something, and lots of women who care about the how, but that is not the norm.

    to get back to the photography subject here, I think I get more of "what film/paper/chemicals did you use" or "what lens/aperture" from women, and more "what brand of camera" from men. Then again, most of the women photographers I know are diehard photo geeks, so they still want to get technical, but they're not as hung up on if it is a Nikon or a Leica.
  33. there are enough women now in photography that generalizations about male/female differences don't tell us much. you would need to do a scientific poll of photographers to see if there really is a difference as suggested in the original post. kinda like another thread going on over whether having strong feelings about your camera means you are a "toolhead" instead of a real photographer. good cocktail party banter, but not much more enlightening than that. altho i do find the "the camera is a tool and nothing more" approach a little puritanical. as if no pleasure should be derived from the process. a bit like having sex only to make babies.
  34. Ladies and Gentlemen, I really feel you should get a copy of Mr.& Mrs. Pease (James: just for the record, SHE contributed grately to the book). You would find all the data, stats, psicological and bio researches you need. I think and sincerily believe we are different (that does not mean we do not deserve equal opportunities). Of course you can not apply that to every single human being, but that is the average.
    Males have different abilities than women. But I unfortunately think we, as males, on photography grounds, are loosing: You can learn tecniques, but cannot invent creativity.
    I just accept it and take it easy. I like what I do, even if I'm not as creative as a woman, and i'm happy when I can have a little smile on the face of a friend looking at my work or of my parents looking at my children on a piece of paper.
  35. Our differences (apart from the obvious biological ones) are mainly from being brought up to fit our parent's model of how we should be.
    (Also other influences like school and peer group etc.)

    I cannot believe for a second that men and women have ANY intrinsic, hard wired differences when reading maps, piloting aircraft, creativity, photography, mending engines, hearing faint sounds, multi-tasking or any of the other pop-psychological/Mars Men, Venusian Wimmin 'differences' that are talked up on sucky TV programmes just to sell some idiot's latest book/course/video/philosophy/religion.

    (Actually I take back the 'idiot' remark, these fraudsters are admirable in their ability to hoover money out of the gullible.)

    Both of my daughters needed to be convinced at similar ages (around 11 years) that their girlfriends were wrong and that girls COULD be good at mathematics & science.

    Once they 'clicked' that what they were good at was entirely up to them and not others (including us parents) they both gravitated towards subjects they enjoyed rather than what they 'should' enjoy.

    My eldest is 20 and a 2nd year undergraduate in History and my youngest is 12 years old and has a real passion for meteorology, science and maths.

    I thought our society had got over telling men and women what they 'should' be good at.
  36. Hi, I am a beginner in Photography, and I am not a philosopher.

    Photography can be shared, used, and enjoyed by both men and women, simultaneously, or separately. But that is not something everone in the world can access, try buying a camera in Ireland.....I know what steryotypes the world has created for me and others, my interest in photography is not helped or hindered by that. Of course it is not possible to avoid the usual scenarios in life, but I guess that as long as you know what works and what dosen't, then that's fine. That is a fairly abstract view.

    To be more specific;

    People may believe in the genetic inheritance of male vs. female traits and the environmantal/conditioning gene. Others may believe that we are mice in a mouse organ, and that the world is flat. I am not about to rant about my own beliefs, which are very simple.

    Some people get heated by a Nikon vs. Canon debate, whilst others find optical science more intereting than current affairs. Why is it that the worlds best chess players are usually male? I don't know, but I guess operant conditioning has someting to do with it. Why do women wear make-up? I don't know, but chances are I wouldn't wear it.

    Society has evolved to aid us un formulating our differences, it is a socio-economic phenomenon created by the worlds business leaders.
    You go to war for oil and you put oil in your salad dressing.

    Men tend to 'covet' each others camera gear.

    Women tend to analyse the subject and the photo.

    It is the differences in life that create change and development,
    but alas it is also the differences in life that stop us talking.
  37. Hi Trevor. Please, try to be more open minded and give a second look at the scientific and statistic data being released every second day by now. It will make life much easier for all of us to accept our limits, enphasize our abilities and optimize our complementarities. As I said, its is not a rule that applies to every one of us, but surely the majority. And if it's not being discussed freely and with serenity, it's just beacuse of rock-hard, conservative positions like yours. photography would produce much better work with 4 hands!
  38. Seems more like yours is the rock hard conservative position, Marco. Trevor is the one who's proposing a less role-based view of men and women.
  39. I grew up in the sixties being told and instructed that way. I wanted to think that way. My doctrine was that of IDENTICAL beings. but I've always been confronted with realities diverging from it. sometimes positively, somestimes not. Finally somebody has the guts to speak up and say that nobody is identical nor inferior to nobody. Simply different, and what's much more, complementary.
    I really have no preconcepts, I simply see what's around me. Take it for what it is: a simple male opinion.
    Sticking to photos, I love to learn from others work, and when is from a woman's, I can "feel" the different approach to it.
    I might be wrong, but that's the way I feel it now.

Share This Page