Photographing Males for Fashion – Is it Different?

It had been several years since I had photographed a male model for any type of fashion work. Really, I was just starting out and was photographing in all different types of people-scenarios. Photographing female models was easy. They are everywhere. Even in the beginning, I had plenty of female models that I could work with.

Male Model Leaning on Wall

I was a little apprehensive when photographing my latest male model. Looking back, the first male model I photographed really wasn’t a model. He was simply a good-looking person who wanted good and cheap/free images. ‘Trade’ is what we call it in the business. People posing as models is quite common. Men are especially notorious. They do it more for hooking up with other attractive people than for getting good images.

Photographing people who aren’t serious about modeling can be very frustrating. Mostly because they don’t know how to pose or ’emote’ well. Emote is simply portraying an emotion. It’s acting. And it’s something that most people can’t do. Haven’t we’ve all seen bad acting? Sorry. Simply being attractive doesn’t cut it either.

Maybe the even bigger issue is when a straight, male photographer works with a male model. There is a vibe, at least there is with me and other photographers I respect, and our subjects. It’s definitely different than it is with a woman. The vibe was strange between and my first male model. While I thought we did well, I thought we could’ve done much better. Many straight and male photographers can’t handle photographing men in an attractive way either. Many male photographers are intimidated. These photographers also feel they might sound ‘gay’ by talking to the male models the way they do with females. What I would say to that is: You better reflect on how you talk to female models. If your language might get a male model to think you’re hitting on them, female ones are probably thinking the same thing…. And that’s just weird. And why many male photographers are usually guilty until proven innocent by female models. At least that’s usually with amateur photographers versus professionals.

Profile Portrait of Male Model

So how did my latest fashion photo shoot with a male model go? Great! What it came down to was this: professionalism. Also the subject of a future blog posting!

Being professional is not just about being paid for work. It’s an attitude. When you want to do the best work possible and others you work with do as well, it’s almost impossible not to have a successful project. It’s about being communicative, respectful and empathic. And how can I forget: working to continuously improve your skills from research, practice and experience.

While I think many people do satisfactory in the second to last sentence of the last paragraph, most fail miserably in the last one. I can say I’ve been guilty of it as well at times. Sometimes you get complacent and don’t think you need to improve anymore. Not in my photography! I’m always working on that! Because it’s important to me is why I’m always working on improving. So if you don’t care about something, move one…

The ‘vibe’? Well, it was fine. Different? Sure, but not in a strange way. We were just two people working together wanting to do great work. Professional too!

About the author

Ricardo Gomez is a Fashion Photographer based in New York City.

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