It’s All About The Eyes for the best facial expressions for modeling and portrait photography

Eye placement and facial expressions are among
my highest priorities when I am doing any shot with a person in it. The right expressing and the placement of
the eyes will make up for a less-than-great pose any day. I can also promise you that, if you business
model relies on print sales, you’ll make a lot more money if you pay close attention
to expressions and eye placement in your photographs. For my shots, I want the eyes to communicate
with the camera. I usually begin by explaining to my subjects
that they majority of the photographs I’m going to take will feel as if they’re looking
into the camera lens. I’ll tell them to imagine a box that allows
them only a few inches of movement. I’ll explain to them that the camera magnifies
things and that, if ask them to turn their head, I am really only asking them to move
about an inch at a time. I’d explain that they should always make the
photographer ask for move. This way, I have much greater control. Generally, if you ask a person to turn their
head, they will turn their head by at least three inches, or even more, and give you an
angled view of the face that does not have pleasing eye placement, and as you can see
here, makes the eye fall off the edge of the face. If you watch this model’s eyes closely, you’ll
see some very common variations on eye placement. Most of them are not flattering or engaging. If you want maximum impact from your subject’s
eyes, line them up with their nose. It doesn’t matter if they’re looking straight
down the barrel of the lens or off on an angle. Eyes that line up with the nose almost always
produce a more natural and pleasing result. For straight-on shots, definitely more impact. Here you can see the same eye movements but
with the head turned to the side. The net result, exactly the same. The version with the eyes lined up provide
much more impact, and looks much more natural. In this next example, my model’s face is turned
away from the camera. As a result, the iris and pupils of her eyes
are forced into the corners, and her left eye is visually pressed up against the edge
of her face. By turning her face slightly back towards
the camera, we have better balance with the eyes, and we’ve eliminated the tension of
the eye against the left edge of her face. As a result, this image is more captivating
but still has the same pose and feel. It is important to give the eyes breathing
room. This example shows the model’s hair lined
very close to her right eye. In this next example, the hair has been pushed
back and off the eye, which creates more impact from her beautiful eyes and soft expression. Now, make sure you get the good side. Everyone has one eye that’s bigger than the
other. Unfortunately, for some people, it is easily
noticed. For others, the difference is very subtle,
and for others, it only becomes noticeable when they smile and contract the muscles in
their face. While we don’t usually notice this in real
time, when it is frozen in a photograph for eternity, it can become painfully obvious. In this first image, we can see that the subject’s
left eye is noticeably smaller. If we turn her head to the left, the problem
still exists. If the head is turned to the right, we have
the illusion of the eyes being nearly identical in size. So it doesn’t matter if you’re shooting models
or sports or children, it is all about the eyes.

About the Author: Earl Hamill

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