Photography Project – The Male Gaze

After doing some photography research on works that inspired me, I’ve decided to focus my theme for a photography series and possibly a film to be on women and particularly their representation from the female gaze as opposed to the male gaze. Most of the photography portraits that I was drawn to were photos by Petra Collins and Sarah Bahbah (under artist influences) which while being aesthetically pleasing, I felt were a genuine and intimate reflection of modern millennial woman outside of expected social conventions.

Upon further research, a main text which discusses this topic of the male gaze is Laura Mulvey’s text on the Male Gaze theory. Her essay on Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema helped identify issues with gender in film and sexual objection on women in the media. On, an article notes that Mulvey states that “the gender power asymmetry is a controlling force in cinema and constructed for the pleasure of the male viewer, which is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideologies and discourses.” This means that the male viewer is the target audience, therefore their needs are met first and that this problem stems from an old fashioned, male-driven society. Her theory on how women are portrayed in film and the media is just as prevalent today as it was in 1975 when her text was first published.” This being still prevalent today is clear and I think we particularly more exposed to it with the use of social media. A particularly big issue with this overwhelming representation of women as a desire stimulus to males is how it perpetuates issues in rape culture and sexism.

I was drawn to this art which creates a view on women through the female eye, creating a sense of realness as opposed to objectification. They are portraits of women in their environment. I feel that their being represented in art makes these scenes that would generally be seen conventionally as unglamourous, glamourous. I think this is particularly achieved through the aesthetics of the photography which find beauty in these private aspects of female life.

Currently I want to start taking photos which reflect this, and I plan on working in both film and digital photography. I may experiment with create short clips alongside these photos as well.

Film Theory 101 – Laura Mulvey: The Male Gaze Theory

6 Female Artists on What the Male Gaze Means to Them


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