Let me start by getting a caveat out of the way. I don’t think that all men can be dumped in one camp and all women in another. But, there are traits that are more typical of men than women and vice versa. And both can learn from each other.
One trait that I’ve noticed many times is that women tend to be drawn to take photographs by emotion or atmosphere. They experience something and they want to capture the feeling they get from it in an image. Meanwhile, men tend to be more interested in the mechanics of their camera and the technical challenge of a particular subject.
When I taught photography at an adult education centre, for example, women often introduced their images with an explanation of the type of day they’d been having in the run-up to shooting them. In some cases, they’d go on to show me a second image that they took of the same subject after adjusting their camera settings. And often they didn’t know what they had done but they liked the impact.
This usually lead to a conversation about the technical aspect of the setting change they made. I might, for example, explain the impact of the aperture value on depth of field. And as a result, they’d go off to experiment with aperture and how it would help them convey a message.
Meanwhile, the men in the same class tended to introduce their images with an explanation of the settings that they used. In many cases, the images were straightforward record shots.
There are pros and cons to both approaches. Women won’t successfully convey their emotion or message without some technical ability. But equally, images with purely technical merit often fail to attract any interest.
The challenge for the men is that it’s far easier to learn the technicalities of photography than it is the emotional and creative side. Yet having some emotional connection to the subject often leads to more memorable images. The stories behind the images are also more interesting.
I find that women tend to describe the image that they want to create more readily than men. They may not know how to achieve it, but they know the look they are aiming for. Men, on the other hand, tend to explain what the subject is, with less thought about how they want it to look in the shot. So men need to be a bit more like women and think about the end result much earlier in the process of capturing an image.