Men with Flowers
As a female photographer, I find it easier to make portraits of women - I understand women's bodies, and I'm not concerned making a woman look powerful because femininity is not associated with "power." Making portraits of men has, at times, been more difficult for me. Many men guard themselves - unwilling to expose themselves in poses that may rob them of their masculinity. Furthermore, as a female, I feel powerless with many men - strong, masculine figures have dominated much of my experience - from my family of origin with a stern father and three older brothers to my adult romantic life with a history of broken relationships with controlling men. However, I yearn for male companionship - my best friends are male.
Recently, I launched the series, Men with Flowers using men I know as subjects to investigate the potential power shift that can happen when men pose with flowers. To create this shift of power between my male subject and myself, I bring the man flowers which I specially select for him - the flowers signify a meaning within the relationship, or even allude to something I wish for him. Flowers are traditionally associated with femininity, and culturally, men give them to women as expressions, admiration, beauty, and love. The flowers he holds - sometimes clumsily, rejecting them slightly, or gesturing them back to me as if he brought them for me is entirely up to the subject. I don't intend to strip my models of their manhood, but only to see them in a different light, perhaps a softer side and in a way I never thought possible. The subject chooses whether to express his vulnerability or not - although essentially, the photographer has the power over the image; in this case, a female whose subjects are male friends, former boyfriends, brothers, an ex-husband, neighbors and acquaintances. At times, the dynamic is uncomfortable for me when I photograph men I have revered most of my life, and at other times, I'm surprised by the exchange and how confidently a man can hold a bouquet without questioning his masculinity. Ultimately, the goal for the project Men with Flowers is to question - why don't we as a culture, allow men to be seen as vulnerable in the world?