Friday, July 17, 2015

The Eyes Have It

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The late, great, British actor, Sir Laurence Olivier, was once asked what makes for great acting? "It's all in the eyes," he answered.

When it comes to models and modeling, glamour or otherwise, the same holds true. What makes for great modeling? It's all in the eyes. Our human eyes are often more expressive than our words, our intonations, our body language, our actions, and more.

When I'm editing, going through the individual captures in a set I've shot and, assuming the model's eyes are featured prominently in many of the images, I'm most often drawn to those pics in which the model has used her eyes most expressively and effectively. No matter how cool the pose might be or how beautiful the model's face or awesome her body, her eyes generally trump most everything else. A lot of the direction I give models have much to do with getting the model to speak loudly with her eyes.

Sure, most of what I shoot is glam and tease, often with heavy emphasis on the tease part, and that means I'm looking for my models to project similarly with their poses and expressions. One direction I regularly give glam/tease models is, "Show me your best 'come fuck me' look."  I'm not trying to be coarse or vulgar when I say that. I'm being direct, albeit in a decidedly non-PC way. (Hey! It's how I roll.)  More often than not, after giving that direction the biggest component of the model's response will be projected by her eyes, in this case eye expressions that leave little doubt to what they're saying. For glam/tease photography, that's a good thing. Again, heavy emphasis on the tease part.

I'm not suggesting everyone should use that sort of frankness when directing models.  I don't say those words to all my models because I'm intuitive enough (and have worked with enough models) to know when that particular direction, in those words, will be received the way it's intended -- non-threateningly and purely to elicit certain expressions -- and when it won't. But when I do use those words or similar, some models become nearly instantly devastatingly sexy when they turn their headlights on in ways designed to turn others on. Often, just when I thought a model couldn't be any more sexier, that direction proves me wrong.

The language of our eyes can be very subtle, to be sure. Sometimes, they're not easily understood. Take the most famous painting ever produced: DaVinci's Mona Lisa. For centuries, people have been trying to decipher DaVinci's model's expression. What makes her enigmatic expression so... enigmatic?  Well, it's her eyes more than anything else.

Course, when I'm photographing glam/tease models in various stages of dress and undress, I'm not looking for enigmatic expressions. I'm not looking for too much subtlety in their poses and expression either. Instead, I'm generally looking to elicit straight-forward, leave-little-to-doubt, expressions from my models.  And we know what those expression I'm looking for are meant to say-- come fuck me.  I am shooting commercial glam and tease after all, commercial glam/tease with a purpose and not a particularly artistic purpose. Just because I add artistic photographic elements to some of my photos, it doesn't mean I'm shooting art per se.

The pretty girl at the top is Alexa, snapped on a studio set. I had two lights working there. For my main light, a 5' Photoflex Octo set camera-right for some Rembrandt style lighting, plus a small-ish rectangular soft box, boomed overhead from slightly behind the model to help separate her from the background and add highlight accents on her hair and shoulders. I think her expression says what I wanted it to say, and a lot of it, make that most of it, is being said with her eyes.

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