Men and Women are Different
Presented by Glenn Springer, TIF, RHCC

Something you need to know if you're going to take their pictures.

Gritty, every wrinkle and hair, scars and lines, textures and shadows. That's how you shoot men.

In case you didn't know it, this is me. The photographer was Matthew Desrosiers from the Haliburton Highlander, I handed him my camera to try it.

Soft, romantic lighting, flawless, smooth skin, perfect teeth, soft focus, dreamy blur... that's how you shoot women!


Forgive me for stating the obvious. But guys, your very survival depends on your understanding of this concept. For example, most of us know that if we hear the question, “does this dress make me look fat?”, we should run, far and fast. But gentlemen, you need to also understand that this is exactly the same question: “which one of these dresses makes me look slimmer?”. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

If you’re going to survive as a photographer, you need to know this. Now I know that I’m really generalizing here and I fully expect to be castigated for it. There are blurred gender lines, there are women who have never worn makeup, some men actually colour their grey hair (it doesn’t work on beards. Two days later, the grey is back, it’s a futile effort. Don’t ask me how I know!). But here goes anyway.

Is this overdone? You bet it is. But he didn't mind. He's 87 and proud of it (he passed the motorcycle course at Humber College last year.Tough guy.)


How do men want to be portrayed in pictures? As worldly and experienced, rugged and outdoorsy. Men generally want to look their age, a chipped tooth or weathered lines on the face give them character. Women? Soft and glowing, smooth skin, slim. Lines and flaws are forbidden, windblown hair is acceptable only if it makes them look, well, sexy. You might want to keep these things in mind when you’re shooting people pictures.

Shooting men: A relatively wide angle lens will exaggerate the size of things that are closer to the camera, so shoot upwards a bit, it makes the person look a bit more imposing. Broad shoulders are a good thing, but try to avoid straight on shots with the subject directly at right angles to the camera, they’re boring. Hard-ish light can be good. It emphasizes shadows and textures, especially when it’s at an oblique angle. Always avoid direct sunlight, though.


My neighbour, Vic. You can see the character in his face. Natural window light but at an oblique angle to emphasize the texture and lines.

Here's an exception. Some women have character that needs to be emphasized.

My cousin Steve. He performs with the group FOG and this was just before going onstage at the Hughes Room in Toronto.

Steve Weiman is FOG's lead guitarist and he bears an uncanny resemblance to Leonard Cohen. On purpose, do you think?

Shooting women: the camera should be above the subject. This makes the body slimmer, and if the subject is looking up, their neck will be elongated. Turn a shoulder to the camera, and have the subject look over the shoulder. Arms should be away from the body, a hand on the hip is a good way to do that. The key to smooth skin is soft lighting. The bigger and closer the light source, the better, that’s why photo studios have softboxes and umbrella reflectors. If you don’t have these things, shooting on a cloudy day or at least in the shade will help. Remember that light from above will emphasize those dark circles under the eyes, something you don’t want to do. So try getting some light from underneath: you can use a tablecloth or in a pinch, a newspaper to reflect some light upwards.

As with everything else these days, Google is your friend. I entered “photo techniques for shooting women” and found a virtually unlimited supply of suggestions and information.


Both of these images are shot with natural light. My daughter-in-law Maria is just looking out a big North-facing window. I added some light to Iris's picture on the right with a reflector.

I haven’t mentioned Photoshop yet. Virtually ALL fashion photographs have been ‘shopped’, some of them beyond extreme. But when used correctly, and within reasonable limits, it can be subtle and flattering. And it’s not that difficult to do even for a beginner, with a little training. A workshop can go a long way.

This image of Renée was made at a party. Some Photoshop work changed it into a painting.
I do admit to some reshaping to correct for the perspective





I’d be remiss if I didn’t add this disclaimer: I generally shoot “rocks and trees”. They never argue when you shoot them from a different angle or if you ask them to undo one more button! This is an area I’d like to improve, so the old expression applies: “do as I say, not as I do”!

Write me an email if you have other questions, the easiest way is to click on the Contact button below. These are also the kinds of questions readily answered when you’re hanging out with other photographers at a camera club! The inaugural meeting for the Haliburton Highlands Camera Club is slated for December 11th in Minden. Go to for more information. See you there!

PS: my workshop schedule is wide open for the fall/winter. I do small groups, so you choose the date! An inexpensive way to learn how to make better pictures! Check out the workshops here.

Links to FACzen Photography:
We teach you how to become a better photographer. And we sell fine art images. Please check us out at the links below.


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