The Ideal Couple

The Ideal Couple

My photographic series “The Ideal Couple” uses performance-based portraiture tochallenge and subvert the traditional notions of gender that are associated with the stereotyped heterosexual couple. This two-part photographic series focuses on ideas of identity and gender but also questions the stereotypes we have been conditioned to adopt as a society. I placed myself and my boyfriend in typically contemporary studio portraiture with a white background but disrupted this by
dressing in each other’s clothes and fixing the camera with dead pan looks. I also pictured myself and my boyfriend in different locations within the space of our own home, again dressed in each other’s clothing. We started in our own clothes and then swapped and wore each other’s clothes. My portraits depict a typically “macho” masculine man in what is signified as feminine clothing and myself in traditionally masculine clothing and by portraying this I have subverted the stereotypes that are placed on the “perfect” heterosexual couple. I have presented
this series as a two-part series showing typical studio portraiture and location-based images. This juxtaposes the typical studio image of the perfect idealised couple with the location images which hint at the idea of “what goes on behind closed doors”. We are presented with an intimate view into the couple’s relationship in stylised performance-based portraiture but also a more private view inside their own home which references lifestyle imagery. “The Ideal Couple” questions the mainstream representation of binary gender roles and addresses heterosexual stereotypes by highlighting and exposing them. It is a photographic series which looks to question traditional beliefs and practices and asks the viewer to consider gender outside of the expected norm which society has conditioned us
to believe in.

Project by

student picture

Allanah Whiteland

Allanah Whiteland is an English photographer and videographer based in London. Allanah’s expertise is in portraiture and fashion photography. She has graduated from The University of Roehampton with a Bachelor of Arts in Photography and Film.

Her artistic focus and interests are in critiquing ideas of gender and identity from a feminist perspective influenced by Judith Butler’s work on performing gender in the 1980’s, for example, as described in her 1988 essay “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory”. She has developed these themes in her work to date by playing with gendered stereotypes and social expectations.

Her work was exhibited at the Horsebridge Arts Centre exhibition in May 2019 and the University of Roehampton’s online BA photography degree show. Her work has also been selected to be displayed on the Association of Photographers website as part of their online website exhibition.

BA Film/Photography

Year of Study: 3

Core Programme

BA Photography

Year of Study


Flesh and Blood



In the Eye of The Beholder


The Ideal Couple