Another important thing for a healthy society… I saw a video today about sexual objectification: the viewing of people solely as depersonalized objects of desire instead of individual of complex personalities having desires / plans of their own.
A quick review of the video: Objectification makes people a mish-mash of body parts. Objectification makes people defined by their body parts instead of a whole person. The video presented that our society sees men as a whole thing while women are just parts. People should be mostly subjects and occasionally objects. This is status quo for men. Men of all body types (fat, thin, bald, etc) are seen on TV with women of one body type (sexy). There are regular halloween costumes for boys and sexed up ones for women. The end result is that men are mostly sexual subjects while women are mostly sexual objects.
What does this have to do with my life? Photography walks the line of objectification. The visual format of photography struggles to capture “the entire person”. This inherent challenge is compounded with objectification being the quick path of photographic popularity. Advertising has figured this out. Photography inherently seeks beauty. Are there boudoir photographers seeking the “whole person”? Are they seeking the subject instead of the object? Sure, but the line is thin and the slope is slippery.
How can a photographer monitor themselves? The answer is intent. A close-up photograph may feature a female model’s face and upper torso, but if the intent is to capture the person instead of their breasts, than the intent is good. Saying “the entire body is in the shot, so I am going after the subject” is not always a truthful statement, especially when the pose of the model presents them as an object of gratification.
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.