Tuesday’s Tales from the Shoot – Why it’s OK to be a Woman and shoot Portraits AND Landscapes

Pyramid Rock-0495This week’s topic is a little controversial, I guess that I have seen a bit of discussion lately about; Women are very good at Landscape Photography, not just shooting Portraits. I just wanted to jump in – I do not think it needs to be either / or. I, myself work in a Male dominated industry, in the company I work for, I am the only Female (apart from the HO Receptionist) in Australia, so I guess perhaps I know a little about gender skews in the marketplace. Now on the surface it does appear that Photography seems to be heavily influenced by the male population. Men, in general seem to be over represented in the statistics, but I do not think it is correct. There are a LOT of Women Photographers, true Women do tend towards Portraits, and maybe there is good reason for this? But this is not always the case, there are many, many amazing Women landscape Photographers.

woman-jugglingIn general, Women tend to multi task, Men do not, this is an argument, which has been going backwards and forwards for generations, backed by some scientific principles stating that this is some basis of fact behind the fiction. (Don’t give me that look……Google it!) So where does that leave us? Perhaps Woman can Specialize in more than one type of photography? Are we uniquely suited for a more creative concept? Or is it a personality thing? I am not really a girly girl, I do love Landscapes, however I detest camping. So if I can stay at a nice hotel, then hike to where I want to shoot (within reason) great I am all for it. Now I know some women who love camping, love 10 day hikes through the bush without a shower or clean clothes (eeewwww), this is not for me, so if that kind of dedication is required for a particular shot; count me out! However if I can drive there, short hike and a great pic……..count me in! I love travel, Moth not so much, although I can usually drag him along. I know Men who love travel, and some Women who do not! Most landscapes photographer (I believe) inherently love to travel, otherwise they would not get amazing images. One can argue that you can take photos of the same landscape in your own backyard, year after year and get different results, but I fervently believe that there is some sort of wanderlust involved in the personality of a Landscape Photographer, Male or Female. In general (don’t shoot me here) men are slobs, love camping, getting dirty, crawling through the underbrush, climbing trees, rocks or whatever, so to do this in the name of photographer, I am sure they are all for it. Or perhaps I am wrong, and I am just a big woosy girl!

beach-portrait-4-4In regards to Portraits, I think there is a more creative flair required. I have only done a few portraits, but I think it requires a little more work than a landscape. Taking out the how and why you are in a particular spot, the landscape is just there! Sure patience is required for the right light, or right angle, time of year etc, etc. but when it comes to taking a photo of a person, a certain level of humanity is required to get a good shot. I am not talking about street art or street photography, but close up, personal portraits. I have seen some technically well done portraits, but there is no life force. I have seen some amazing candid photos taken in bad light on a smart phone with great life force. It’s the ability to engage the model, that brings out the life force, is it not? I know from times I have had portraits done of my kids, it always seemed to be the women who brought out the best in my kids. Perhaps that was just coincidence?

TaylorIn the warmer weather, you will find me traipsing all over my local neighborhood, or around my local area taking in the sights, Moth and I have spent the last few month working our way bit by bit around the Victorian Coastline. We have visited some wild and rugged, yet very beautiful areas, but now the weather is getting colder and winter is almost upon us, I find that I am turning to inside shoots instead. I could do product shoots (that’s a whole other kettle of fish!), but I don’t find inspiration in these. I have been venturing more and more into the world of portraits, and in particular, Fantasy Shoots – involving a fair bit of Photoshop. I find a real creative outlet here, and not just photographic. I get some great reactions from kids when I explain what I want them to do. Maybe that is one of ‘My Things’ Fantasy Photos.

Woolamai Surf Beach-0349I guess another element is Macro, now I realize I am over generalizing here, but to me it just seems to be;  Men shoot more bugs and insects, and women shoot more flowers. I could be wrong, but does this go back to the whole Girls are made from sugar and spice and boys are made from bugs and puppy dog tails? Or is there something to men have more patience for that sort of thing? Woman are balancing 10 things at once, while juggling and standing on a ball………it’s just the way we are. Where as Men seem to have more time to sit and ponder the meaning of life and insects!

Listen I could be completely wrong on all fronts, and there is ALWAYS an exception to every rule, I do not believe in putting people in pigeon holes. You should be able to photograph anything you want, Male or Female, and why do you have to specialize? Surely you can shoot various different formats and still be a great artist? Or should you just pick one style and work to craft that to perfection? I don’t pretend to hold any, let alone all the answers, it’s just a round table discussion. Personally I love to do both, some days I prefer Studio Portraits, but when the sun is shinning and it’s not too hot, you will find me outside with my camera, perhaps doing portraits, or maybe just a landscape, don’t forget the bugs and flowers too!

So what do you like to photograph?

– Julz