Notes from the Andro-Aperture E.B. Meetup

The same image appears twice of a nude male, hands over his genitals. In one image he's not retouched, in the other he's got pecs and abs photoshopped in.So our first meetup went pretty well- we had about 9 people total, mostly men interested in the project and expressions of masculinity. Sitting outside on a sidewalk in Berkeley talking about dick shots was really fun and I had a great time of it!

To start, we discussed a bit about masculinity generally. Issues such as the need to be seen as “hard” in POC communities were commented on; one thing that came up is the idea that the erotic male nude is seen as either aggressive/dangerous/creepy, or as gay or humorous, while erotic female nudity is seen as sensual and attractive. “This Film is Not Yet Rated” was brought up, as was Susan Bordo’s “The Male Body“, which I now need to add to my reading list. We mentioned “standers vs leaners”, the idea of an active, aggressive male sexualization being ok, while a passive, leaning one was not ok and weird.

Then we talked about what women who have responded to my poll are looking for in their erotic photography: seeing enjoyment on the guy’s face, seeing his face, a variety of men (body type, POC, trans) being pictured, and some teasing shots rather than blatant cock-in-face. We also discussed this ethereal idea of there being a story suggested in erotic images of men, some sort of chemistry or dynamic that you can feel, some dramatic tension. It’s kind of hard to create a guideline for something that you either feel or you don’t, but it was definitely a defining factor for what made an image erotic or not erotic. We also talked about how confidence in your body and being in front of a camera made for sexier photos, and how possibly having someone who knows you taking the images helps that along.

One thing we agreed on was that erotic photography is often best when it’s a negotiation and collaboration between people, rather than static images. When a photographer has an idea in their head and just molds a body to fit that idea, the image can lack the dynamic found within people just taking photos as they have fun.

(side note: I’ve realized I probably need to write a guide on how to take erotic images and how to model for them, particularly because there’s not really any resources out there for female-identified photographers or male-identified models. As with lots of things it could be a chicken/egg thing, where a lack of resources = a lack of people learning what to do and giving it a go, which means fewer male models or female photographers, which adds to the belief that there’s no need for them. If you have some tips for starting photographers or models, please comment and add to it?)

On the fun side of things, we worked out some ideas for shoots- stuff involving a hint of danger, or eroticizing the mundane, showing a spectrum of male experience. We want to show images that aren’t hyper-masculine, reduce the need to perform a stereotype of gender. We also talked about wanting to show cocks in all different stages of arousal, foreskins and cut, small, medium, and big. Humour is definitely a plus, as well as creating space for men to be hot AND cute! Not knowing how to be sexy as a male is a huge part of the problem, and something that will be hopefully discussed further. Also, we discovered that we can use a lot of the same tropes of erotic photography of women just changing a few variables makes it subversive.

On that note, there’s four projects we may start with:

-Male Pinups

-Fun and Games (Filament)

-Science and Nature (Filament)

-Male Submission

Looking forward to the next meeting!

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6 Responses to Notes from the Andro-Aperture E.B. Meetup

  1. Agreed about the collaboration on photos part! As a female nude model, my best shoots have been ones where the photographer tells me what he’s thinking about and we work together to come up with and tweak poses that really capture our combined concepts. I don’t know if its relevant, however, I’ve also found that the most dynamic, most “authentic and vibrant” photos I’ve gotten are from photographers who take a LOT of shots very quickly, so that I don’t end up freezing and becoming uncomfortable in the pose but rather am “caught” at the moment it feels right.

    Love this project, by the way. If you get some people in your network to shoot male pin-ups, I’d love to see them!

  2. Susan Bordo is brilliant I have read Unbearable Weight but not The Male body. Though she is very Freudian.
    You wrote:
    ‘We mentioned “standers vs leaners”, the idea of an active, aggressive male sexualization being ok, while a passive, leaning one was not ok and weird.’ I think Metrosexy and Mark Simpson’s work especially on ‘Sporno’ will disagree with you there…

    • Actually, what I also find interesting is that the women who were at the meeting liked and wanted “leaners”- and while the men liked them too, they felt it wasn’t ok to like them.

      • well when a man ‘leans’ if I understand it rightly, he makes himself very available for the ‘penetrating’ gaze of the camera/viewer. Basically he is asking for it. So some men can feel anxious about what that says about them, as models, photographers or viewers of such images.

  3. Marilyn Roxie says:

    This all sounds like very exciting stuff (particularly male pinups and male submission)! I found this blog awhile back from the excellent “but why?” article confronting myths about perceptions of female interest in male images and so on. I really appreciate the aims of Andro-Aperture and the discussion this get-together generated.

  4. I have read The Male Body thanks for the tip-off.

    I liked it in parts, some parts a lot. There is a great deconstruction of Dirk Diggler’s Dick from Boogie Nights. But if you do read it I hope you do so in conjunction with Metrosexy which gives a different (and in my opinion more accurate) analysis of how men have come to enjoy being so ‘on display’ in contemporary culture!

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