Which Way Do You Tilt Your Head?

Last year during Women’s History Month I told the story of why I started my own photography business after leaving a male-dominated industry, and why I felt it was important to be certified as a woman-owned business.

This year I want to quickly call out an outdated rule in photography: the “masculine vs. feminine head tilt.” The old rule of thumb, which is unfortunately still taught in photography textbooks, is that you tilt a woman’s head toward the camera, to characterize them as more subdued, friendly, and congenial. And you tilt a man’s head away from the camera to make them appear more powerful, strong, and in charge.

There’s one problem, though. Women want to be portrayed as powerful, strong, and in charge too.

So, at our studio we tilt everyone’s heads in both directions for two reasons:

1. In photography there’s really no such thing as an unbreakable “rule,” since it’s an art form, and every image is distinctly individual.
2. Outdated gender norms should be destroyed with fire.

Equality in the workplace isn’t just about equal pay for equal work, it’s also about equal portrayal of everyone in imagery. If you’re responsible for the photos of your company’s people on your website, is there a difference between the way men and women are portrayed in the images?

As a woman, I would argue that we females have become confused by how we’re portrayed in imagery, since images of women (especially their bodies) are more commonly used in advertising when either sex is the target market for a product.

Are we supposed to look beautiful or powerful in our LinkedIn profile photo? Are they mutually exclusive? You might be surprised to hear that many of our clients have said to us that they believe they can’t wear pink, sleeveless dresses, low-cut tops, bright lipstick, or smile too big in their profile photo because they won’t be “taken seriously.” And it breaks our hearts.

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