August 18th, 2014

Cemetery Stone

Creeper Photographers

Should photographers be aware of what they photograph? Should there be some kind of “fairness” or “equality” in what they shoot?
A friend on FB posted that there were photographers who seemed to focus on female cosplayers only. How did they know that? My friend is female, and the photographer in question lost interest in her when she chose to dress as a male character. A comment on the thread stated that all female photography of cosplayers qualified for creeper behavior.

Is this excusable behavior? I can see some photographers saying that it is. They would say that they really appreciate the female form and don't care to take photographs of guys. “Personal preference” they would say. I don't know about that.

A compare-and-contrast here is due. There are professional photographers that focus almost exclusively on women. The photography is usually boudoir or sexualized high-fashion. Is there motivation the same as the cosplay photographing creeper? I don't think so. The professional photographers are chasing what sells and doing what they're good at. “Sex sales” as the advertising saying goes. Most model photographers don't specialize, and this goes for the majority I've associated with, but those who do specialize in women subjects aren't creepers, they are business people. Their interaction with the models, clients, and customers is carried out in a professional and business like way.

This brings us back to the selective cosplay photographers. I understand my friend's discomfort. Focusing on the females, and particularly the more sexy ones, becomes a form of objectification. It reduces the creativity of the cosplayer, and makes the cosplayer a sexual object consisting of body parts. This is really really uncool guys! It does not honor the cosplayer's creativity or love of their art. An unhealthy focus is placed on the target of the photograph. Sexualized photography like this is a form of stalking.

The majority of my photographs are in the realm of dance photography. My intent is to capture the dancers, the dance, and the moment. I am guilty of appreciating a sexy dancer. The balance to this is that all dancers and dancing are given equal appreciation as the magical subjects that they are. Going back to the original definition, the photographer with pure(r) intent presents subjects having desires and plans of their own. The photographed people become the subject of the photograph instead of the photograph being a sexy collection of their body parts. To echo the video, the desired result is that of mostly subjects and occasionally objects.

Time for me to give my answer to my opening questions. I believe that photographers should be very aware of the product they generate. Focusing on one gender (usually female) has its place in professional photography, but even there it is not terribly common. I can relate to my friend's cosplayer questions because of my dance photography. I strive to get shots of guys and gals dancing. Do I have my favorites? Yes, if only because I know they generate great photos, but I monitor myself and strive to not “stalk” a particular person or gender. Non-professional photography should pursue a theme of celebrating life. Stalking a gender or person is NOT celebrating life. Objectifying a creative pursuit is NOT celebrating life. These NOTS do add up to a creeper with a camera.