Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by acm, Aug 12, 2009.
Is it possible to predict the gender of the photographer by looking at a photograph?
Like it can be predicted in case of handwriting for example. Even a novel has some traits by which experts can predict the gender of its creator!
At a primitive level I can say I see more pictures of flowers and kids in women's portfolio.
Not gonna touch that one!
Not sure it shows in the images, Apurva. But I'll bet I can guess which gender might want to smack you in the head for asking!
Now, if you asked which gender is more likely to obsess about Leica cameras, or get into rambling rants about Canon vs. Nikon? I think I it's safe to guess.
No kids in my gallery but I do have some flowers
Sort of like predicting if it was film or digital. A guess at best unless blown up to
billboard size, but even then, a guess.
A valid question to me, Apurva. Yes. A qualified yes. it's always a guess of course but i believe there are signs. Back in my school days i heard it said that photography was one of the more equalizing mediums of expression. I agree but frequently i feel the gender of the photographer does often emerge, why wouldn't it. There are clear cultural differences to be recognized and used by like people.. Many exceptions but many similarities can be found. Culture, gender, age, all go into the pot. I think in photography These similarities and differences were more apparent 30 years ago and before. It's often used to the advantage and motivation of a photographer, i do.
To be perfectly correct, Apurva, a prediction is something in the future. What you're asking, I believe, is rather you can accurately guess with a degree of certainty. I know, picky, picky, picky
Average amateurs: Yes in a sense, usually by the portfolio ensemble. It reflects the daily life which, whether we like it or not, still typically has a strong gender specific component, and therefore it might give a godd base for a guess.
Advanced amateurs: No, although there is an individual handwriting I see nothing gender specific in there, or rather say it I feel one of the less important influences to style.
Average pros: No, they're trained to leave individuality behind and deliver what the customers like
Advanced pros: Sort of yes, but only in the sense that they're style might be so unique that you not only tell the gender, but who was the person.
And why does it matter?
Thomas, good distinction to make by introducing client. As always there are exceptions. many. I think there is a good case to be made for photographers gender in fashion and advertising. Sarah Moon, Deborah Turbeville, Richard Avedon, Paul Outerbridge .... the world of fashion and advertising has a long list of recognizable strongly, gender specific photographers. Many really learned to use it to their advantage and development of style.
I have reservations regarding the distinctions, or categories that you point out as having influence on recognition of gender. If the line between professional and amateur is defined as one who makes a living as a photographer is a pro, I can only note that individuality or 'that they're style might be so unique' is not connected to being a pro or amateur. So why an advanced amateur would not communicate their gender equally to an advanced pro eludes me. Voice or expression is not qualified by wether you are a pro or amateur. Recognition most often is but ability is not.
If on the other hand one were to consider a pro as in level of experience and ability then the difference from advanced pro and advanced amateur is not a consideration to the expression of gender.
If its a self portrait, I can usually tell. I was once a sign painter and it was common practice for sign painters to be able to recognize others work by the style. Most could guess with a fair amount of accuracy whether a sign was painted by a woman or a man. I still try to tell what gender certain photos were taken by, seems like it may be just an old habit that won't go away... and no, I'm not very good at it!
Well, apart from the motif or subject matter has anybody noticed a sublte difference in composition, cropping, color saturation, color preference, high key-low key etc?
I don't mean that kids and flowers are sissy subjects only suitable for women photographers-an emphatic no. Kids are actually a very very difficult subject. Its only the biological constitution given by nature to women who are more tender and caring that they might choose these subjects often.
After saying the preceding sentence I would be resigned to a smack on my face if ever I was going to get one
why an advanced amateur would not communicate their gender equally to an advanced pro eludes mesorry for the misunderstanding. I meant both they communicate their personality, whether or not the gender is a prominent part of the comminication depends on the person. It is just that you are far more likely to know/recognize the name and style of an advamced pro than that of an advanced amateur.
23.4% increase in cat pictures *runs and hides*
I think the basic answer is going to be no.
To the question, "Will pictures taken by the population of all women photographers be different in some significant respects from those taken by the population of all men photographers?" the answer is probably yes. You're more likely to get pregnant-tummy pictures and pictures of children from women because women have more access. You're also more likely to get pictures using soft-focus techniques. With the men you're going to get more combat photography, more extreme sports such as racing cars, more street photography, more in-your-face paparazzo-type shots, more black-and-white and dependence on texture and grit.
You didn't ask that--you asked if gender would be predictable in specific instances. The answer is probably no, because the logic of individuals is different from the logic of populations. Girls range from frilly to tomboyish, and boys from macho to emo, and a single adult can range over the entire masculine-feminine continuum, depending on content area. To the extent that you're trying to validate a stereotype, you're not experiencing the person in front of you.
Apurva, I am not sure you meant to address your last comment to me. If it was to me i am unsure of the context?
Just for the record, I'm a guy and I love taking pictures of flowers
"At a primitive level I can say I see more pictures of flowers and kids in women's portfolio."
Well, if that was the case, you would incorrectly guess on mine. I enjoy taking pictures of anything - I like abstract, landscapes, macros, animals, nature, insects, flowers, people (street particularly though I am still not brave enough most of the time), kids, architecture, obscure objects, etc. I take alot of flower pictures and pictures of my kids - I would love to take candids of other kids, but I don't because people may think I am a creep or sicko (I am not and it is too bad that society is like this).
I find alot of beauty in flowers - alot of mine are closeups/ macros at wide aperture to focus on stamen leaving the rest of the flower to be a blurry haze of colors.
Sometime in the past several months, Popular Photography asked just this question- how gender influences the practices of the photographer. Try to search for the article at their website.
Plenty of photos of flowers in my collection, and my wife really enjoys viewing them. But then I enjoy shooting a lot of the natural world. I'm not fond of shooting kids.
OK, the kids postulate is true, the flowers, no. 100% of my wife's photos are of our kids...Only 90% of mine are. The rest of mine are flowers and other pretty, colorful things.
I think that there is much more to recognition of gender in photographic expression than subject matter.
As Apurva observed "Like it can be predicted in case of handwriting for example. Even a novel has some traits by which experts can predict the gender of its creator!"
Separate names with a comma.