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What Is the Male Gaze and How Does It Play Into Photography?

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Male Gaze is a term of art that refers to the way men portray women in media vs. how women portray women in media. For example, when a movie has a male director and the female lead character is used solely to appeal to men sexually - she'll dress sexy, be posed sexy in all the shots. And the camera angles and perspective of the woman's role in the movie is as an object that exists to arouse men. And when you have a female director, the female lead character might have more depth to her character development and role in the movie. Think of, for example, all of the women in James Bond movies - they pretty much all exist as sexy villains to tempt the hero, or sexy support characters to help the hero, but only in a sexy way.

Male Gaze is a term that is used in photography as well. It's important to boudoir photography. When you think about magazines like Maxim or magazines with cars and bikini models across the hoods, those have Male Gaze photographs - pictures where the woman's role is to sexually arouse the male viewer. There is nothing wrong with taking pictures with the intent of sexually arousing a male viewer if that is what you want to do. Many of my clients take pictures and order albums as gifts for a groom to be or a husband/boyfriend/significant other. With Male Gaze photos, the primary purpose is for the audience and it doesn't matter what the person in the photo thinks or how she feels in the photo.

The difference in boudoir photography is that it is the exact opposite. How *you feel* about the photo is the only important thing. Even if you choose to share the pictures, the pictures are successful when you love them. That's why it's an important part of our process to get you involved in the shoot and communicate what we are going to do. Actually, probably a little more than half of the people I shoot have no concrete idea of what they want to do. That's why I have my style gallery with inspo ideas, to get some thoughts going and begin to make a custom session that puts you first.

Check out the Inspo gallery here:

Learn more about booking a shoot here:

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