As I approach the half way point of my year long quest to capture a portrait per day I’ve noticed that men and women approach the process differently.
Most men have agreed to have their picture taken without question – I almost have to force the information upon them about my blog and the project. I was going to say that I could only think of two who had refused, but as I typed their stories a third sprang to mind, and then a fourth. Rather than turn this into something akin to Monty Python’s Spanish
Inquisition sketch, lets just accept that they have been less frequent than women. Not very scientific, but that’s the impression that I have.
Women are more likely to respond with the “hate having my picture taken” riposte, or occasionally the “not without my make-up on” defence.
A lot of the guys just stare straight down the lens almost as if refusing to contribute to the process. Ironically I tend to get more out of these pictures as without a cheesy grin I’m left with a face that betrays more about their normal demeanour.
Women almost inevitably smile. Would they do the same if I was a female photographer? I don’t know. Is there a woman out there doing the same thing who could share their experience? I’d be interested to know.
Anyway the point of all this is that today I was surprised when the young Nigerian girl I had found for today’s picture asked me whether she should smile or not. I told her I didn’t mind and that she should just give me whatever look she felt comfortable with. When she hesitated I suggested she smile, shot a few frames and then asked her for a more serious look. This can sometimes have the reverse effect of producing uncontrollable laughter, but in Ola’s case she had a moment of inspiration, turning her head to one side and hitting me with magnetic eyes that were a little reminiscent of Sophie Okonedo.
Makes you wonder why photographers have historically gone to such lengths to get people to say cheese.
*from Monty Python Cheese Shop