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:
-Fun and Games (Filament)
-Science and Nature (Filament)
Looking forward to the next meeting!