Expression in a Photograph, what’s its purpose? How do we do it?

Whatever the kind of photography, be it glamour, boudoir, fashion, product, nude, editorial, etc., if it involves photographs of people, the range, depth,  context and sincerity of expressions are vitally important to the final images.

As a model, it is thus imperative to be able to supply a range of appropriate and sincere facial expressions.

To be useful,  expressions must be directly suitable to the contexts of the projects in which we are or plan to be involved.

Maybe you have noticed, some new or inexperienced models who have a limited repertoire of expressions?

Perhaps they still feel that modeling is all about looking angry… while other newbie models believe it’s all about smiling, smiling, smiling.    These models still need to do the work of finding different angles.

Angry looks and smiles all have places in photography.  To create the most worthwhile images, those that captivate and move the imaginations, the proper expression must be blended with the overall context of what the photography conveys.

Many of the features on our faces move in individual ways which convey meaning.  For instance, in sorrow, our eye brows are drawn together and upward.  The eyes then join in harmony with this eyebrow movement to convey the depth of the inner sorrow and twisting.  In fear, our eyebrows are lifted and separated.  Try to express these feelings facially.

Do you notice your brows moving?

Learn how each part of a face moves with each emotion.  If you feel the emotion and your facial features are not moved to reflect the feeling, the camera cannot capture it.   Study, learn and practice.

If a shot is a tight shot, say a head shot, or a bust up shot, the expressions is often the whole story in the shot.  Every element of the expression must be aligned.   If the mouth is saying something different from the eyes, the viewer feels the expression or emotion is not genuine.

Have you ever heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words?”

Well, the story told by these words is either echoed in, reflected by, or totally carried by facial expression.   If not, it’s not much of a story.

Smiling all of the time, or being angry all of the time is very limiting in terms of what stories a model might convey.

Noting and learning expressions along with various practice forms in front of the mirror will give you the confidence and experience necessary to expand your emotional facial poses.

Try to form an expression in the dark in front of a mirror,  then turn on a light.  Check your expression in the mirror.   Is the expression in the mirror what you felt it was in the dark?

Correct, adjust and practice until you have the confidence of knowing you are getting it consistently right.

If you prep and build your capability, range and confidence in your facial expression repertoire, it will lend a quality of sincerity and value which cannot be overstated in the finished photographic images.

This is noticed by photographers and casting agents who are then be much more likely to seek you out when they need a go to model for their pet projects.

There are several excellent books on posing and expressions, one of my favorites being the classic, and just back in print, paperback version of  “Posing for the Camera,” by Shepard and Meyer, for review click here..

For a listing of Models Profiled on, click here.




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