Male and Female Photographers See the World Differently

If you think male and female photographers sometimes have very different styles, the reason might go beyond their tastes and approaches to shooting. Men and women see the world differently — literally. A new study by vision researchers have found that the two genders have different ways of collecting visual information.

According to the findings, men are more sensitive to moving objects and seeing small details, while women tend to be sharper in seeing color changes.

The study was done by Israel Abramov of the City University of New York (CUNY), and involved test subjects over the age of 16 who had normal color perception and 20/20 vision.

Yahoo News writes,

In one part of the study, the researchers asked the volunteers to describe different colors shown to them. They found that the guys required a slightly longer wavelength of a color to experience the same shade as women and the men were less able to tell the difference between hues.

The researchers also showed the participants images made up of light and dark bars that varied in width and alternated in color so that they appeared to flicker, a measure of participants’ sensitivity to contrast. Compared with the women, the male volunteers were better able to identify the more rapidly changing images made up of thinner bars, the researchers said.

It’d be interesting if there were further research into what impact — if any — these differences have on photography.

Thanks for the tip, Albert!

Image credit: My eye by orangeacid, My eye! My beautiful eye. by

  • Professor P

    I teach photography at a small university in the Midwest that offer a BA is Photography and about 95% of my students are female (about 80). I’m not sure what the implications of that are but when I was in school there were only about 5% female photography majors.

  • Digitus Impudicus

    We’re still mostly cavemen/cavewomen. Cavemen hunting, out looking for the moving prey while avoiding the moving predators. Cavewomen gathering, looking for the ripe grains vs inedible, looking for the good berries avoiding the poisonous ones. Sounds like perfectly normal adaptations to me.

  • mko

    Nice job you have there

  • Michael Zhang

    :D Thanks for sharing the image Dan!

  • mymorna

    Actually… I mostly take pictures of people and street images, lots black and white, while my boyfriend shoots details and has a great eye for color :) :)

  • Tomi Tarkin

    Not the first find to prove that men and women are quite different from each other in many respects biologically, maybe not the “opposite” sexes, but still much different… The strain of feminism, which I’d rather call “academic femi-fascism” has been so wrong in so many issues so far, stating that gender is only what society and culture defines it to be and biological differences are totally indifferent, and here’s another proof against that like mentioned above.. I don’t object women participating society as full members but men and women are not the same and we won’t get forward in society with the gender issues unless that fact is realized and taken in consideration and conversation in terms of true equality respecting the differences and not seeing everything as the same from the female or feminist point of view. Men are not bad people because they were not born women, or see and do things differently from women.. Remember that bros and sistas! :)

  • Tomi Tarkin

    Spot on.. :)

  • Tomi Tarkin

    Very interesting notion. Photography has become more of a girly thing indeed I’ve noticed also. Though there are still some guys with ridiculously long lenses and expensive looking gear around good for sports photography and such, still most photographers I see actually taking pictures are girls or younger women with cameraphones and less showy cameras whatever they may be. Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh generalization, but still it’s the picture you can easily get nowadays.. :)

  • Jhawk77

    Now I understand why my wife was complaining when we were in Rome last year about my subject choices. And I’ve been shooting for 40 years!

  • Bermellotheke

    Don´t forget the fact that women used to be more visual educated in color palettes that men. I mean, they can give a typical guy a couple of lessons about how many greens and reds they see and you don´t even know. Cerulean blue, you know :)

  • Cletus Dwayne

    Get the hell out of here with these evolution lies.

    Do you really beleive the people came from monkeys? Are you really that dum?
    Why is there still monkeyes then?

  • pogomcl

    yes, think it does– when i started macro photography, I was rare woman. It’s confirmed easily, but a beetle specialist told me I would be first woman beetle photographer in Europe if I decided to shoot beetles. It gave me the incentive to shoot beetles. When i met spider collectors working in field, they told me that there were 40 male arachnid specialists and only 5 females in the National Science Academy. It confirmed what I already knew from all the hours of studying and identifying insects. The field is male dominated, but it requires acute detailed critical vision. When I take color vision exams, my results match those of men rather than women, so I know that this has to have some impact on how and what a person shoots and how they shoot it. Beetles are male subject. Insects are male subject–it’s not sexism, but I think much more dependent on vision.Most of the time, I don’t actually see my bug, I see the movement of the bug and the lens sees the bug.

    Don’t think it has anything to do with cavemen or women, because even if you move over into botany, you find that scientific photography within botany is male dominated. Why? technical detail. Critical vision that can identify very small details and memory that recalls specific identifying details of one species from another. Its different way of looking and shooting the subject.

    My mother told me I was always like this even as small child. It was easy for me to sit and sort and identify things are very small detailed level that left her and the other members of family confused. But I also have problems with color blindness that often surprises people. I can’t separate near hues apart, particularly between green and blue.

    When i stand and shoot sports, I am rare women with a lot of men around me. it’s not just because of the big lenses or sexism– if there are other women, they are as burly and muscular as myself. We aren’t the norm. We are the exceptions. I don’t think it is sexism that makes Danica Patrick an exception in racing– probably there is some difference in vision, physical reaction and logical processing between the genders. The brain processes the data differently.

    I think much has to do with vision and how the brain synthesizes data. Because I have problems with distinguishing close hues, I am far more likely to make layouts or images with strong colors and contrast and this is a huge advantage for me. I can’t see dark colored type such as red or blue on black background and I can’t see pastel typeface on white. It’s a huge benefit for me because when i shoot something, the image will always be distinct. But this is male-associated trait, not female.

  • Bua

    Fascinating, hilarious and cool explanation! That’s why we should send them shopping…. for um…berries…. :P

  • Tove Thorsson

    That is certainly a very tempting conclusion to reach. The problem with your conjecture is that it is not a testable hypothesis. Yes, this is one of those dreaded just-so stories.

    Human color vision is coded on the X-chromosome. Women get two X’s, men get one. This is very widely known and well described, and women have long been known to be better (on average) at seeing color for this reason. I personally believe it has nothing to do with picking berries, but we can never know whether it is or not. I could say it is because in ancient times women had to accurately distinguish between different colors of spirits that would appear and either torment the tribes or reward them (based on their color), and there would be no way to prove me wrong. Simply because my just-so story appeals more to absurdity than yours does doesn’t make it less valid. Hemophilia is also sex-linked (just as color vision is). So I’m gonna say that cavemen didn’t need blood as much as cavewomen did.

    Instead let us look at what we do know and what we can test. Humans have sex chromosomes, which dictate which gender the person is, but the sex chromosomes also code for other stuff. This is because evolution is
    crazy and doesn’t usually come up with the most ideal solutions to things. I personally wouldn’t make a sex-determining chromosome which also encodes non-sex determining things, but there you have it. However, the occurrences of non-sex determining genes on the sex chromosomes do not reflect ancient divisions of labor. That’s just where the genes physically/spatially ended up in our genomes.

    Now, as for what males are better at noticing. Are we sure that this is an evolutionary adaptation, with a genetic or hormonal cause? I ask because it sounds very closely related to the male’s superior abilities in spatial reasoning. Male superior spatial reasoning was previously thought to be due to innate differences between males and females, and has been demonstrated and measured for a long time

    But guess what started happening when more girls started getting encouraged to participate in sports activities from a young age? Guess what happened when more girls started getting encouraged to study the STEM fields from a young age? Women’s spatial reasoning scores have been steadily rising, correlated with the rising participation of girls in sports. Men’s spatial reasoning scores have stayed roughly the same as they have been for generations. But women’s spatial reasoning scores are rising.

    Someday, if just as many girls participate in ball/team sports as boys, will women’s spatial reasoning scores be the same as men’s? I do not know, nobody knows. But the data do seem to suggest that letting girls exercise their spatial reasoning as children (via sports) gives them better spatial reasoning skills as adults.

    So, is this a genetic difference? A hormonal difference? A cultural difference? The lines are blurred. Due to brain plasticity, what you do as a child forms what your brain is as an adult. Boys also (on average) play more videogames than girls – could this be linked to being more visially sensitive to movement? Videogames certainly train and reward the brain to notice and respond quickly
    to movement.

    I do not know if there is a genetic/hormonal reason for men being better at these things, but there is some data to suggest that this difference could be culturally-induced. There is no data to suggest that this difference could come from our cavemen ancestors stabbing/clubbing/shooting whatever, and there never will be any evidence for or against that. Because it is a just-so story, and it does the field of evolutionary biology an injustice by weakening the layperson’s understanding of the field and how it works.

  • nikonian

    It is called digital… Plus photography has become social in it’s weird own way. Women as a generalization socialize better than men and photography is a great career to express that. Men(me included) seem to be more of the zoned in all alone type and are less social leaving a huge ninche open.