With a young generation of female image-makers emerging across the region, we’re beginning to see newer (and more accurate) representations of women in photography. But while most female photographers focus on taking control of their own narratives as women through photography, others have decided to turn the lens on men, breaking down the tired clichés behind masculinity. 32-year-old Moroccan photographer Yasmine Hatimi is one of them. With her series aptly titled The New Romantics, she wants to shine a light on a softer, more honest portrayal of male romanticism in the region.
“People have often told me that my pictures appear very feminine, as if sensitivity was a feeling that’s exclusive to women”, says Hatimi before adding, “but I actually inherited my gentleness from my father”. While the photographer had naturally been shooting girls for a while, she realised it was time to document manhood and expose a more fluid understanding of gender. “At that same time, I used to regularly buy flowers and the young florist systematically offered me a rose”, says the photographer, discussing how the idea of capturing men with flowers came to her organically.
Hatimi spontaneously selected a few young men in the streets and asked them to pose holding a flower of their choice in her improvised outdoor studio. “The group of men was getting bigger and bigger; people were so eager to participate”, she recalls. Ultimately, with her series, Hatimi wants to challenge the accepted one-dimensional definition of masculinity that still dominates most societies, and shed a light on the complexities of modern Arab masculinity. In a region where societies are highly gendered and love is still accepted as taboo, it’s rarely acknowledged that men also suffer from both the patriarchy and heartbreak. “I wanted to give these men the space to feel vulnerable, at least for one moment”, she adds.