Maud Fernhout started her "What Real Men Cry Like" photo series just one year into her photography career. She wanted to develop a project that would subvert gender stereotypes. With her "What Real Women Laugh Like" series finished, Fernhout decided to continue the theme and set out to capture the emotions of young men.
"The idea of laughing girls as a series then led to the thought of having different series with different 'real' emotions, all opposing the one-dimensional way women are portrayed in media," Fernhout, who's based in the Netherlands, tells BuzzFeed. "But when I thought of a counter-project based on crying, at some point the puzzle pieces just fell together and it made a lot of sense to do that with men instead; taking it away a bit from media portrayal but rather towards gender stereotypes in general (which of course are also visible in media)."
"The reason that they are all about the same age, and the reason for any possible lack of diversity in my project, is really just my model pool," Fernhout tells BuzzFeed. "Almost all the people in both projects live on my campus, or otherwise are close friends that didn't mind traveling. I'd never expected the project to get this big - I'm just a broke student with a mission, whose friends and fellow students were more than happy to join in. Though more diversity is something I would have definitely considered had I had the opportunity."
"Some (if not all) of these guys obviously also feel these stereotypes and could therefore have trouble crying themselves in general, let alone in front of a camera and a relative stranger," Fernhout says. "So first I'd try to calm the nerves by giving them a cup of tea and just talking with them for a while – about the project, about whether they thought about ways to cry, whether they had questions, etc, but also just about school or other unrelated topics."
"Every shoot was different, but general techniques to at least get serious and emotional were listening to music, watching videos, just sitting in silence, or talking about emotional things in their lives," Fernhout tells BuzzFeed. "I tried to follow them as much as possible and just kept reassuring them that they could take their time (since it's obviously a lot harder to push tears out if you're trying to do so within the time frame of a certain song, for example)."