This is a two-part post for new models and new photographers about facial expressions.
One of the most noticeable differences between newbies (on both sides of the camera) and more experienced models and photographers is the facial expressions in their portfolios.
New models often look nervous, confused, terrified, uptight or bored. They don’t yet know how to come across as relaxed and natural on a shoot.
An experienced model photographer won’t take a single shot until the model has stopped looking like a bulldog in the middle of a prostate exam.
But an inexperienced photographer will be thinking about lots of different things, and making that common newbie error of only ever looking at the model through the camera, instead of just looking to check if everything is ok.
An inexperienced photographer may not notice until afterwards, and even they do notice, they may have no idea what to say or do to get the model to improve her facial expression. Being a model photographer isn’t all F-stops and backdrops. You have to be able to communicate what you want and what you don’t want. And you definitely don’t want a clamp-jawed, frightened-eyed, bored looking fizzog knackering up your shot.
An inexperienced photographer may not notice at the time, but a crap photographer won’t even notice on the final photograph. And a really, truly awful photographer can spend an hour in Photoshop skin-smoothing, eye-brightening, air-brushing your knickers, amplifying your knockers and applying fairy wings and unicorns to the final shot. But they will still fail to notice the terrified eyes and forced smile that makes the model look like she’s won second place in a Cherie Blair impression contest, held by a particularly vicious faction of the Taliban.
It takes time and practice to learn how to do facial expressions. Most of it is in the eyes, and some of it is in the muscle structure of the face, and how that reacts to emotion.
‘Emotion’ is the key word here. Anyone can pull faces. The trick is to relax the face, and then to let the emotion manipulate it.
If you’re a good model, you can control this completely. You’ll know exactly how much emotion to show. It’s a very instinctive thing, but you have to learn how to do it first.
If you’re a good photographer, you’ll understand this from the model’s point of view, and be able to communicate this to somebody that has never modeled before.
So for both models and photographers, let’s start with three basic ‘DON’TS’:
• Don’t tense your bottom jaw, or clamp your teeth together. Your top and bottom teeth should be slightly apart.
• Don’t press your lips together. This makes you look annoyed, and it makes your lips look thinner.
• Don’t frown or squint. The lights in a studio can be very bright. You have to get used to them.
You can wipe out all of these ‘Don’ts’ with one ‘Do’:
- Relax your face. No squinting, no frowning, no clamping, no pressing. No wrinkled-up eyes, no grinding teeth. Just very relaxed.
Read Part 2 soon