Let's be honest. It's not every day that a photographer gets booked by a group of teenage boys.
And just to be clear, this wasn't a sports team or an organization/club.
No, I was informed that a group of best friends simply wanted to book a shoot to capture their dapper attire before prom. This isn't anything wild or unusual, I know. But I had a moment to think about this dynamic and I absolutely loved it because I realized it was a first for me. I typically get inquiries from ladies, for all kinds of occasions. But I never put much thought into the disparity in gender demographic of my clientele until I was booked for this group.
Now don't get me wrong, I have definitely photographed boys and men before, and they have been phenomenal. But I do find it worth mentioning that I have encountered a few fiancés/husbands that were reluctant to participate in the shoot because they perceived photoshoots as "feminine" (Huh?) or they just felt embarrassed/shy (I get it, there can be many reasons for that. I completely understand). Thankfully, I have been able to make people feel safe and comfortable enough to engage and have a good time.
Before we started shooting, I told the boys to bring their sunglasses with them. I figured it could be a fun prop to use if they were feeling nervous or camera shy.
The shoot did start out with some timidness, so I asked them to put on their glasses. After I snapped a few pics of them in their shades, I turned the camera over to show them how they looked and they instantly gained supermodel confidence x100. They were ~feeling~ themselves with those shades! And it felt awesome to watch them break out of their shells.
These boys were feeling so confident and excited that they began throwing out ideas and suggesting concepts and poses for us to try out. And I was 100% here for it!!!
When I sat down to start postwork, I thought about it some more.
This shoot felt so refreshing and unique to me because I have always seen the historical disservice done to boys by instilling shame and a need to "protect their manhood" which typically leads to a fragile and toxic masculinity. In the Latino/Latinx community we refer to this as "machismo". But these boys did not display any such behavior!
They were outgoing, confident, and above all else, they showed no shame in their friendship. It made me feel proud to live alongside a generation of kids that were taught to love other humans beings. They can be silly and joke around without it having to be at the expense of others.
Being the youngest in my immediate family, I don't have much interaction with Gen Zers. I read tons about them online, which reminds me of how Millennials were once the same kind of hot topic. But I am really glad to know that this generation is just as progressive and down to earth as I've heard. Sure, not every single person will be that way. But for the most part, these guys have given me hope for a brighter future just with their love and wholesomeness.