• Frank Villasana

Nequim Male

A while back, I posted a status on Facebook asking for volunteers for male models. I didn’t need experts, just men willing to represent Nequim studios at a public event, and be photographed while doing it. I was surprised at how few takers there were, and it got me to thinking about how few men actually come to get photographed at our studio. We even have a list of guys that we can call to be male models in shoots, and often, its difficult to get them to commit to anything. This got me to thinking…

Women are always complaining about having cultural stigmas to overcome. We hear far less from the men in our population, but I think that they have just as many societal pressures on them, especially about their physical image. Women have advocacy groups galore to help them get over these stigmas. We have terms for our stigmas, such as fat-shaming. We have songs for our stigmas, such as “All About That Base.” We have support groups, ladies lunches, Red Hat Societies, Belly dancing and burlesque troupes, and the list goes on and on. Women have banded together to create a few little positive body image pockets. But guys…well they have poker nights in the quiet of someone’s home. And any whining done, well, basically, they get their man card taken away. Seems just a little unfair if you ask me. With all of these thoughts, I asked a few of my guy friends out there that have mentioned interest in some kind of modeling or non-traditional portraiture, to give me a few thoughts on posing for Nequim. Specifically, I wanted to know what their hang ups were, if they would pose nude or implied nude, if they would do a boudoir session for their partners, and I got some interesting responses. Responses which sadly supported my hypothesis.

My friend Sam Bravo grew up with me. He was my little brother’s best friend. A handsome fellow, we had talked about a session for him in a joking manner. I asked Sam if he would model for our cameras. “Sure. I guess.” “What hang ups would you have?” “I don’t know. I don't have the body type for the ideal male model. There’s a lot of emphasis on the idea that women don't have to have a model’s figure to be beautiful (because they don’t) but none that I know of about men. I’d love to feel that a woman could look at me the way I am and see me as a sexy man.”

Sam’s statement that he as a male was not aware of any type of encouragement for men to just be themselves and claim their male power worried me. Perhaps it is guys that need more encouragement than women. Women are very quick to judge, but less quick to support in many ways. Now ladies, don’t take this wrong, but maybe if you coaxed him just a bit, his sexy would actually come out and you might fall in love all over again. Just sayin’…… My dear friend Ryan Coe and I had been dialoguing for over a year about getting him into the studio for a photo session. I asked him what his concerns would be about exposing himself to the camera. “ As a regular guy, I don’t think I would have issue being photographed. It is just that as a middle aged man I don’t think I am very photogenic. Additionally I was conditioned to think that most people don’t want to see middle aged men in modeling shoots unless they are in incredible shape or incredibly good looking. “ “Would you still model for us? Or purchase a session for you and your wife?” “ It has taken some serious contemplation before I would agree to be in a modeling shoot illustrating how a man can look appealing during middle age.”

Ryan also mentioned that it would be far easier to get in front of the camera if he had every confidence that he would be coached/posed into the correct position for his body to look its best. Well Ryan, that is what we do with all of our models, male or female. (It’s my job description as the stylist, in fact.)

While Sam was worried about not having the support culturally, Ryan put into words the age-discrimination issues we deal with daily in the studio. It’s funny because most people that are passer-by assume our average client is in her 20’s, thin, and fit. Not so! Our average client is married, with children, in her 40’s, and a working professional. She owns her beauty when she leaves the studio, no matter what form or age she may be. Let’s face it, many of us don’t have the confidence at a younger age to step in front of the camera barely clothed. Age discrimination is a huge thing in media, but a super faulty perception in real life. Most women I talk to admit that a confident, slightly older man is far more appealing than a overly fit and lean young face. Personally, if they don’t have a tinge of grey, they can keep on walking.

I asked Dwayne Neal, a male model we have used for a couple’s session, what he thought about his experience in front of the camera. Keep in mind, Dwayne is not a “professional model” either. “I have never thought of being in front of the camera before, but my wife asked me to. I was extremely nervous and unsure of myself. “ Dwayne went on to say he had a positive experience, and he has been back to our studio for other shoots as well. If you want to see Dwayne’s photos, check out the fireman shoot, and the couple’s boudoir on our Fan Page here on Facebook.

Finally, I also asked my friend Matt Hopper about his experience in front of our lens. Matt told me “My only reservations were my own terrible self image and inexperience with modeling.” “Matt, would you return?” “In a heartbeat.” Matt expressed the enthusiasm which we often hear from our female clients after their first shoot. And, we often have repeat “offenders” coming back for more lens time. To us at Nequim studio, this is the epitome of a compliment. If you return, we must have done something right! And, Matt was one of our models for our Nequim t-shirts and for Tablescapes. He will be helping out with more Nequim Male campaigns in the future. You can find his image on our Facebook fan page. So, we ban together as women and support each other. We offer our images to our men, tentative and unsure. I want you to stop and think about the confidence boost in our guys, if we were to give them just a little push toward feeling sexy, and slightly objectivized. There is definitely something to be said for having an open appreciation for our lovers. And guys, when ready, come see me. Let Nequim studio transform you, into a Nequim Male.