Women are beautiful

Something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I got some feedback to this tweet which was along the lines that this is a stupid idea because Street Photography is all about tropes and surface. While I agree with this characterization of Street Photography, those comments missed my point.

Certain tropes are damaging.

The pretty girls thing is one of them

From [internet photographer]

 Area Photo 201 Students All Take Pictures Of Same Homeless Guy

From The Onion

The homeless thing is another post but it’s a similar idea of objectification. With pretty girls, the nature of the objectification in the trope bothers me given how photography in public is going.

This isn’t to say that all photos of pretty girls are bad. Or that all street photography is bad. Or even that we should all stop taking photos of women in public.

It’s just that a lot of the pretty girl street photography I see falls into the technically competent photos of pretty things camp where because the subject is attractive, many people think the photo is good too. While this is a recipe for boring photos which score high on the interestingness scale, it also skirts into human zoo territory. Not a good look.

And it’s worth flagging that the male gaze is one of the tropes of the genre. Questioning this is important. Comparing approaches is important.* Looking and thinking about what works and what doesn’t and where the lines are is important. Most street photographers don’t want to get into the creepshot thing but I always get the feeling that there’s something lurking in there** and I think it’d be interesting to pull it out.

*I’m also actually interested in comparing how different photographers approach the same trope and one of the things we’ve semi-joked about on Hairy Beast is to create a photographic Aarne–Thompson.

**For example, looking at a selection of Women are Beautiful photos which doesn’t feature the most-famous images.

Doing a Women are Beautiful edit for multiple street photographers would hopefully show that there’s more to a good photo than just a pretty girl. Or they could show how difficult it is to do something constructive with the male gaze. I don’t know, I haven’t seen this proposed tumblr.

But I want to see the problematic tropes get called out more. It’s not a problem that a genre relies on tropes. It’s a problem that the tropes themselves are problems.

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