Not Just a Pretty Face
|Facial expressions send strong messages about what an image is trying to say...what the image is about. Unfortunately, a model's lack of expression can sometimes cause the photo to say next to nothing. One expression to avoid is the pouty-pouty runway model blank look that many people assume when being photographed. Both models below are engaged with the camera with strong facial or body language.|
|If you are shooting something "fashiony" like a model on a seamless or creating an image with the background dropped out, avoid blank stares. In the image on the left above, the woman could be a spokesperson for any number of beauty products, for example. She looks like she is speaking to us, as does the businesswoman in the next image. If you can't think of how an image could be realistically used, it probably won't be.|
|Even in the very posed "calendar girl" pictures above, the images are more successful because the model is engaging the viewer. The bored, glam look is may be part of the current style of fashion photography but it is not as versatile in stock photography as images where the model connects with the viewer visually. It is important that images of people used in editorial and ad pieces appear authentic, especially when the image will serve a testimonial type use. An overly posed model certainly doesn't look like a believable spokesperson. Interact with the people in your images. Get them to talk about themselves...what they've been up to or what they did last weekend.|
|When working with family and friends or non-professional models this is especially important. And non-professional models if worked with carefully can look much more authentic and be better examples of who they are than a model pretending to be someone they aren't.|
|As an exercise, think of a product that the woman in the two nice shots above could be "talking" about. Write ad copy in your mind for each image. You will find, I think, that these "identical" shots with an air of authenticity can have totally different meanings because of the facial expressions. Here are my captions for the images. Right image: "Living at the new Madison Condos is living my dream." Left image: "You can smell the freshness in our new Organic Blend coffee". I see a lot of images where a photographer has had the opportunity to shoot a pretty face/body but has no plan about the final message or emotion. One of the posts to a previous blog quoted Ansel Adams: "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept". When working with people, have an idea in your mind about what you want the images to "say" before you begin to shoot. Elicit strong but not overly staged facial expressions and body language. Stay away from fashiony images depicting pretty faces with blank stares for stock photography.|
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