Powerful photographs for women


Press photographs make men look more powerfull than women, new research findings show: http://www.ceome.nl/?p=9983 (in Dutch). It seems to be a new finding, but I remember that I learned it in a course about 14 years ago. The course was given by Maaike Meijer (and others), who were working on the book Effectief Beeldvormen that is now free downloadable from Maaike’s website (in Dutch again): http://www.maaikemeijer.nl/download_nl.html
The course and also the book afterwards were great. I remember how they analyzed commercial messages, for example the campaign to make people drink more milk: the boys and men introduced in the campaign drank milk to become strong or famous, the women were encouraged to drink it to become beautiful women and lovely grandmothers. It opened my eyes for the way the world around us pushed men and women in different roles.
They also showed how men were usually photographed from a position down under, so that the observer would look up to them; the position would be an affirmation of their power. Women were usually photographed from a position where the photographer was up: women would look smaller and less powerfull, just by the way they were portrayed. I found that kind of research outcomes amazing. It seemed that not just men and rules and the way power was shared was against us women, but also the way media shaped images in our world. It was surprising and also fun: because image and photographs were created to amuse mankind, and changing them looked like a game of joy!
And yet, in 2012, the original findings are re-affirmed by new scientists. A nice advice that an editor gave with it is: women, just don’t allow photographers to take pictures from above 🙂 Do-able and very practical because any woman can be aware of this in all circumstances.
Two years ago I had photographs taken for the front page of an employers’ magazine, in the midst of balloons. I thought it was a great idea. I think for the front page (see on top of this blog) the picture was taken from the position that makes women powerful, but on the inside (see aside it was not, but isn’t the effect neutralized by the idea of the balloons? I leave this to you to decide, but I like to re-affirm the general advice: take care that photographs express the real, more or less powerful position you are in!

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