I've always been fascinated by portraiture and people's body language - how a person's body language is transferred (and altered) by a camera. I think there's a lot that can be said about a person from how they carry themselves and interact with the world. As a result, I've always been curious about the relationship between a subject and the camera - how a person acts (or reacts) to a camera/having their picture taking. In many ways I also think the relationship (or lack of) the subject has with the person behind the camera also has an impact on the resulting picture - even the way the subject perceives the camera person can influence their behavior in front of the camera. It influences the interaction whether the subject looks comfortable or uncomfortable; or if they are willing to show a more vulnerable expression, as opposed to their everyday masks they wear for the world. Then there's also how a person acts naturally when they don't know a picture is being taken vs. how they act when they are aware of the camera.
It's the idea of representation in photography that has always fascinated me - how photography is frequently seen as a definitive truth at times - a picture is worth a thousand words so they say. But that isn't necessarily true because a picture is a reflection of a reality, key phrase being a reality, not some true objective reality. Which isn't to say that photography can't be a powerful tool in furthering the pursue of the truth (or a truth) - just that we should be careful about how we interact with photography; where we are mindful of how it's framed and the message/context behind it, and even the motives of the photographer.
So because of that dynamic of power that can come with being behind a camera - a portrait or a picture, sometimes, isn't just a portrait or a picture, but it can be a political statement. Even a simple snap shot of friends can be turned into a sociological study, given how subjects can be influenced in their behavior towards a camera by the person behind it. Given how heavily racialized and gendered our society is - I can guarantee that people will react differently to a white man taking their photo vs an Asian American woman taking their photo. That relationship between a subject and a camera person is important because it has a lot of influence on the resulting work. I think that photography in a lot of ways is a two way street (or at least it should be) between the subjects and the camera person. I think that photographers project themselves onto their photos as much as the subjects project how they want to be seen to the camera, so in that regard I think there is a huge responsibility for photographers to be ethically with how they photography others.
With all that being said, I've often wondered about how my friends interacted and occupied the space around me. So that was the motivation behind one of the current photo series I've been working on. The premise is simple enough, I hang out with my friends, then I try to snap some photos of them sitting or standing across from me and try to capture their expression. Because even going beyond wondering about how my friends act around me - I also wanted to see how I viewed my own friends.
P.S. I do have guy friends - I just haven't been able to hang out with them recently.