If you visit one of my online portfolio sites such as ModelMayhem or DeviantArt you will often find a small disclaimer in my bio indicating that I am not interested in working with male models. The reason for this is simple and rather obvious. They don't interest me. During a recent discussion about this very fact with a hair stylist and fellow colleague, it was suggested that having a few male models in my portfolio would "round it out" and possibly make it more appealing to prospective female models and clients. The idea being that women who viewed my portfolio, and saw that I photographed more than just other women in various states of undress, would be less likely to see me a pornographer and feel more comfortable working with me without the associated connotation. I have to admit that this notion has stuck with me for a couple of days and I feel there might be some validity to the claim of my colleague.
Nerds or pornographers. Two labels that could seemingly sum up all the people involved in the practice of taking photographs. The latter of the two usually being reserved for male photographers in particular. There is often no redeeming social value given to someone who owns a camera and takes photographs. I find my self constantly defending or legitimizing what I do in a preemptive strike against the impending moral judgment that often accompanies my introduction as a 'Glamour Photographer.' I personally don't see a lot more social value in someone who gets paid millions of dollars to chase a rubber puck around a sheet of ice for 60 minutes. But I bet Sidney Crosby has never had to defend his choice to be a professional hockey player or legitimize what he does.
The struggle to maintain some semblance of artistic legitimacy has not come without cause. Within the industry and art form, there are lots of unfortunate examples of people who undertake the process of photography with no other purpose than to expand their own personal porn collections. These people are known as GWC's (which stands for 'Guy With Camera'). This is someone who's sole purpose for owning and using a camera is to convince their models to disrobe, and in the ultimate scenario, use the intimate nature of the interaction as a precursor to sex. Basically, these guys are douchebags. It's the poor man's version of buying a sports car with the hopes that it will get you laid. But a DSLR is a lot cheaper than buying a Ferrari. The unfortunate part is the damage that people like this do to the legitimacy of the art form and the photographers involved in it.
This all brings me back to the original suggestion that a more well-rounded portfolio is an indication of a "safer" and more respectable photographer. Although on the surface, that is probably true, I personally find it somewhat offensive and ridiculous. With every new model or client that I meet, I find myself going through the dance of explaining, convincing, reassuring that I am not one of the above mentioned people. The assumption is often being made that because I have made a choice to work with female models exclusively, that I must be a pervert. Even a master like Helmut Newton gave up at one point and started calling himself a pornographer because he was sick of having to defend his work and some of the labels that were associated with it.
It would be interesting to get the female perspective on this, especially from women who don't know me or haven't worked with me professionally. To me it's a classic case of judging a book by it's cover. My portfolio is my book. What does that tell you about me?