Why don't you shoot some male nudes?

(Stefan Schmitz) #1

First-off: this is not a reply to a former thread here. It is the question that comes up more than any other about my photography, and the fact that it was also mentioned in Elle’s thread made me think again: “No Men ?”

The truth is: no, no men for me.

I am not attracted by men and I lack the fantasy to “see” them in a sensual way. Sure, I could copy sets that I have shot with female models and do the same with a male model, but I’m afraid that it would be hard for me to judge the quality of our work. I have a certain idea of female beauty, of how I look at a woman and of the sensuality of women. But I don’t see any of this in a man or when looking at a man. This limits me as a photographer, makes me a one-trick-pony.

And I can live very well with that. I am an amateur and I only spend limited time on my photo hobby. As a matter of fact I spend WAY more time on the water, surfing, sailing, stand-up-paddling or kayaking than I spend behind the viewfinder of my camera. I spend more time with post-production than behind the viewfinder and I spend more time in forums than behind the viewfinder. Still I do not feel any need to become a more complete photographer. That very small niche I work in is already challenge enough.

Next to that comes the fact that nobody really cares for male nudes. Men like to look at women. That’s why photos of nude women attract numerous spectators. Photos of men attract no spectators at all. This is a shot of my son Adrian:

It’s technically OK, Adrian isn’t exactly ugly and the eyes make contact. The second photo shows Olivia, at 24 years of age she already has her MSc in informatics and started her second studies in applied physics when we met.

I published both pictures in the “portrait” section of the Nikon forum and the appreciation is 1:62. For every one view or like Adrian’s shot gets, there are 62 for Olivia. I’d say that Adrian’s shot is even technically better, but … nobody want’s to see portraits of men! And honestly: that’s true for me, too.

So if you like to see more shots of men, especially nude men, I am the wrong photographer to talk to. I always tell everybody that I fall immortally in love with my models - for the 90 minutes the shooting takes. And I don’t think that this could happen with a male model.

How do you see things? That’s a real interesting question for me.

(Pat David) #2

This might also overlap with general portraiture.

I am generally not attracted to men sexually either, but I can’t deny the power of good portraiture.

Dan Winters is a great example of this (this man masters his light in a way that regularly takes my breath away):

These are generally wonderful images that are captivating to me both for the subjects (famous folks), but just as much for the technical execution.


I really do not want to bring this subject up, but sexuality does not always have to do with being able to understand aesthetic value of a person in a photograph. I mentioned that I’m asexual, and I am able to appreciate people photography of almost all kind given that the subject only makes look at lighting, composition, and form. Nude or not, men or women, all of that is irrelevant to me. Even nude bodies that are considered very unattractive to society at large can be part of a great photography. Those pictures that @patdavid posted shows great contrast in addition to giving these people personality.

And if I was into photographing people, I could photograph nudes in theory. Men or women, but I would avoid giving a element of sexuality though as that is not who I am. I’d be trying to make photographs that makes people see past that and have the audience look at all the other element including emotions.


I get the point that you are trying to make. I just don’t see the two portraits conveying the same thing. If you were known for good male portraits, I am sure that the view counts would be more even. But as you say, you don’t have all that much interest in making photos of men. That is okay. You are just being honest about what you like to capture and are good at doing.

I think people asking you the question want you to take other photos. :slight_smile: But they can’t make you. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Mica) #5

I think your work speaks for itself, @beachbum, and it is quite wonderful. If you’re continually challenged by photographing nude women, then you should by all means continue to do so.

If I were to think critically about your statements, I’d ask: your connection to your subject is obviously of a sexual nature, but does it have to continue to fit within the status quo of what western culture finds attractive? Can you find beauty in the in conventional? What would happen if you tried to subvert your own personal cannon? Could you make a photograph of a nude male that is not sexual but still beautiful? Could you do the same for a woman?

Moving further, I find your comapirson of male vs female portraits to be flawed. The portrait of your son is technically sound and pleasing from a camera settings point of view, but fails miserably in the other areas. His pose is conventional and boring, the light is uninteresting, and his expression is bland. It feels disconnected. The female, on the other hand, has some interesting light and a much more interesting pose. Its a better photo, more interesting to look at, so it isn’t surprising that it gathered more eyes. If the point of sharing the two photographs was to prove that you’re only good at making photos of females, then I feel you’ve succeeded. However, as an artist, I think you’ve failed with the photo of your son. I’d think it should be relatively easy to make a photo with a good emotional connection to your son.

(Stefan Schmitz) #6

First of all: thank you for the replies and your thoughts.

Looking at the photographies of those celebrities I ask myself: would somebody look, if they weren’t worldwide known actors or sports-stars? Especially that portrait of six chamoinship-rings with the dude in 1940s movie-light next to them? Gyllenhaal is shown in a contemporary style, the other two are … reenactments of 1910 portait techniques. Quite well done on Tom Hanks, I admit. It’s a strong portrait, but is it a PORTRAIT of Tom Hanks, or is it a shot showing Tom Hanks disguised as a 1910 seafarer?

Yes, you are mostly right, sexuality plays a role in my photography. I mean, I have a basic idea of how to shoot a “sensual” male portrait. Take this shot of Alice:

I absolutely consider it to be among my top-three shots ever. The place is less than 100 meters from our living room, I can easily go there all he time and I could probably ask a 20-something Rugby player to model for me. Rugby is a big thing here and the players’ bodies look like everything the classic Greek and Roman artists ever dreamed of.

He could stand there in a blue-jeans, top-button opened, the light accentuates his six-pack (eight-pack in reality) and I could have him chew on a daisy or straw. He could even wear a Stetson to complete every imaginable cliche (but that might complicate the light setting on his face).

You see the image as clear as I do? OK. Now that I have seen it, I lost interest in it. But if you want to shoot that picture, you got the “how dunnit” here above :slight_smile:

Now, while I type this: all you need is a window and a camera with a 50mm (35mm on APS-C) lens. how about you try this? It’s not even about the muscles of the model. Any pal from your sports-club, you neighbor or even you self could pose. Anybody in for it?

(darix) #7

Maybe you had different feedback for the 2 shots because of the audience on that forum? Maybe it was a predominately male audience?

(Stefan Schmitz) #8

sure - photography is majorly a male hobby. I really don’t understand why (my daughter is into photography as well), but I guess there are five men for every woman in the forums. My wife is deeply into her horse riding and it’s the opposite there.

I mean: it’s not synchronized swimming or rugby. You don’t need a lot of imagination to understand the predominance of a certain sex in these activities. Photography and horseback-riding are absolutely accessible to both sexes, but there seems to be some separation or selection …

(Pat David) #9

That shot constantly reminds me of how effective a simple window can be for light. It really works so well in that shot (that it almost feels effortless).

(Stefan Schmitz) #10

That’s probably the best compliment that Alice and I can receive for our work.

By the way: Alice and I will shoot together again on Feb 16 2019 - on a canal-cruise ship all for ourselves.

(darix) #11

I would bet on places the like instagram the ratio might be at least 50/50 if not even leaning more towards females using it. I wonder if we can help to improve the ratio in other places too.