In mass media a lot of emphasis is placed on the female. No offense fellas, but we are traditionally seen as the fairer and more beautiful sex. Female faces grace the covers of magazines more often, whether it’s a men’s or women’s mag; they garner more attention on red carpets, and quite often, in this world of senior photography, it feels to me, at least, they aren’t given enough attention.
The whole idea behind this Loving Our Selfies column came to me because of an amazing, thought provoking, and important class I taught called Media Studies (I didn’t mean to sound so self-important there, it’s just that this class is integral in this day and age of everything in our kids’ faces ALL THE TIME). In it, we (the students and teachers who taught the class) discussed and looked critically at media from topics to bias in reporting to the way race and gender is portrayed. Discussions got emotional, they got a little sticky and heated, but what I looooooved is they were REAL.
With that being said, I want to draw attention to the young gentlemen in our genre. Many of you out there don’t shoot lads, and that’s cool, I’m an advocate for doing what works for you. However, for many of the boys out there, they have similar self-esteem issues as girls do and as a photographer, I’ve seen how what starts as a simple photo shoot turns into so much more.
I may not shoot as many guys as gals, but I have formed bonds with them and their families that are just as solid as with my female clients. And honestly, these bonds are rivaling those I have with some of my former students. I don’t want to embarrass my clients at all, because they are seriously awesome, but, when we think of confidence issues in teens, in general, we think more about the girls. Weight issues, eating disorders, acceptance by peers, not feeling they are pretty enough, wanting X amount of likes on their last Instagram post. In reality, many boys deal with the same feelings, but they just aren’t always as obvious.
I’m not saying my clients have zilch for self-esteem, but they worry about their skin breaking out and how that will look on camera too. Their outfits are often just as important to them and want to look and feel handsome, strong. As one of my client’s mom said to me, “You know, boys like their photos just as much as the girls do.” She’s the mother of two girls and one boy so she’s experienced both.
One client I have, that I ADORE, was not uberly excited about taking his photos. At his session, I was just my normal, dorky self, which helped him relax. Once we got going and got on the topic of the show Survivor, it was all over. He came alive and had a lot of fun as we discussed plot and strategy of the tribes, if we played, who would be like, and who we would most like to be on the show with. I captured some great images of him. At his ordering appointment, his amazing mother shared with me that he wasn’t treated so swell in middle school. It’s not only the girls who can be “Mean Girls”, the boys can get nasty too sometimes. He has struggled a little bit with confidence and my heart was bursting with how happy he was with his photos, besides how happy his family was. It seemed he finally saw himself in a different light, the light his family has always seen him in. Those photos showed him the self-assured young man he has become and the strong man he will grow into. I’m not doing justice to this situation by any stretch of the imagination, but hopefully you catch my drift.
I wish I had more statistics to throw at you. I’ve researched and even went back to my colleague who taught Media Studies, and there just aren’t as many out there compared to what we see about women and confidence. I will work on that for you though for a future column, because it’s so important our young men aren’t put aside, because they face as many pressures as our young women do.
Keep posting your guys images to Senior Guy of the Week and Senior Guy Style. Heck, submit their sessions and images for other contests as well. And next time you get an inquiry for a senior boy, stop and think about it for a minute before you decline. I’ve had nothing but great experiences with my guys and you never know what kind of imprint you will leave on them.