Surely men and women often have different approaches to achieve similar goals, so is this true when we take our cameras underwater? Read on as Francesca Diaco analyses what the differences are between women and men underwater photographers.
In the last issue, this column discussed whether men or women were better divers. This sparked an interesting debate among some contributing photographers as to whether there’s a difference between the male and female perspective of underwater photography. Surely men and women often have different approaches to achieve similar goals, so is this true when we take our cameras underwater?
HERE’S an important caveat: no two divers are truly alike, male or female. Diving and underwater photography are so subjective that one diver’s thrill could be another diver’s bore. But in the interest of debate, I’m going to point out a few observations I’ve noticed over the years working as an underwater photographer.
Let’s start with what unites us – an undying passion for the underwater world. This is undeniably solid, common ground. Imaging is our way of sharing the magic and beauty of our seas, whether it is for memories, conservation, expression or art. How we get to those final images, however, may be more different than we realise!
My most recent dive job was as cruise director and photopro on a live-aboard in Indonesia. On any given trip, at least 70% of guests would come armed with cameras ranging from compact cameras to rigs that needed a forklift to get them onboard – I exaggerate, but only a little. As soon as the first bit of gear appeared, some differences between the sexes would already be easy to spot.
Men sure do seem to love their gear! And the more the better! Always the first to start unpacking and assembling, they seemed to revel in this process as much as a dive. They would begin comparing kits and heartily engage each other in the whose-is-bigger/cooler/newer ritual. And the technical talk would flow (even with those who didn’t really know what they were talking about!).
For women, gear seemed to play more of a supporting role rather than being a hobby in-and-of itself. They tended to be more streamlined with the gear they bought and used with their photographic inspiration coming from a more visual, emotional place. They seemed to let their individual photographic style grow naturally through their diving experiences, rather than try to predetermine it… which leads me to my first hypothesis.
Hypothesis 1: It seems that men let gear and technical knowledge guide their photography while women take a more organic approach.
When it was time for the dive brief, more differences began to emerge. The men would be pressing us for specifics about what we were going to see – a hit list, so to speak! They wanted a goal, or battle plan for the dive while the women were more turned on by the possibilities of a given dive. Women seemed more interested in hearing about the overall characteristics, or personality, of the dive site.
Back at the surface, the post-dive chatter often gave way to more differences in the way we interpret our dive and photo booty. The guy talk was often quantifiable, as they would compare their conquests in relation to their pre-dive hit list. The girl talk, on the other hand, was less specific and seemed to emphasise the overall beauty or feeling of the dive.