In my discussions with students yesterday, the subject of my blog came up and I was asked about how people react to being asked for a photograph.  I replied truthfully about my finding that in general the following rules apply:

  • Men more often than not will agree, and frequently without asking me why I want their photograph
  • Women of other nationalities usually ask what the picture is for and then agree
  • British women are the most reticent.

I’ve tended to assume that the reason for this last category is twofold:

  1. I frequently shoot people when they’re out walking on the beach, when, to their mind, they may not look their best.  Understandable, but why don’t men react similarly?
  2. There may be a degree of caution about a strange man who wants to take your photograph.  I could be a stalker after all!

Yet there must be more to it than this.  This weekend I encountered two young women, Jessie & Laura who were both reluctant to be photographed, yet neither of these reasons could explain their refusal.  Both were beautiful, one whose dark hair provided a frame for the broadest of smiles, the other a slim blue-eyed blond with great bone structure.  Neither was caught unawares or without make-up, and they were in a safe environment where my credentials had been established by the university.

Ironically they were both part of the same team, which emerged as winners of the activity my colleagues and I were running and so were obliged to be part of the team photo at the end.  Even then they each chose to retire to the back row to minimise their presence as you can see above.

I accept that there are some people who just don’t like being photographed, but why does it seem to be disproportionate between the sexes?  I’d be interested in other people’s theories about this, so please leave me a comment below if you have a view to share.

Almost inevitably when I got home this afternoon I went to the beach, approached the first man I spotted and within 30 seconds I had a portrait of Anthony.  QED.

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