Modeling Tips

11 06 2009
Fierce.

Fierce.

We’ve all seen ANTM.  We’ve all heard the critiques and seen the tears.  So what I have to say here today is nothing that hasn’t been said before, but only a reminder for all of the artists out there, striving to create a memorable image.

Models, you are chosen, not because you’re pretty, but because you’re interesting, striking even – there is something about you that works well with the lighting, collaborates with the camera.  Assuming you’ve been blessed with the genetic makeup that provides you the tools to work the camera, it is now your responsibility as a model to hone those tools. Handle them.  Learn them and communicate with them like you would a wild stallion.  There are many parts of your body to manage, and there are many different moods to portray, but today I want to focus on the most important element:

The Eyes.

Photo: Steve McCurry

Photo: Steve McCurry

Ladies and Gentlemen – Your eyes, and all of the emotion and soul and potential that they hold – THIS is your key to a strong photo.  The human brain has evolved to possess a deep love of stories, perhaps as a means of helping us learn which berries not to eat and what kinds of heroic acts will further our species – but I digress.  We are all – clients, photographers, advertisers, audiences – all of us are essentially brains maneuvering bodies around in pursuit of things that grab our interest – presumably because we have something to learn or gain from them – and it is your job to imagine the stories, create them in your head, and then shoot them through your eyes like legendary laser beams.  You are an enticer of brains.

The Navigator.

The Navigator.

So, this bears the question, “What do brains like?”  Since we’ve established the brain’s undying love of stories, let’s dig a little deeper.  I can tell you right now, and I think we’d all agree, that brains have some sort of 6th Sense, a way of detecting bullshit and passing over it – why would they waste their time on artifice and lies?  If we’re to stick with the evolutionary mindset, the brain, upon encountering a mask of insincerity or superficial role playing, is thinking, “This offers me no means of improvement.  Moving on.”

No Drama.

No Drama.

So what does this mean for you as a model?  Believe it.  Internalize it.  MAKE it real.  If you have to dig back into your childhood and remember the magic of hidden doorways and secret passageways – by jove, this is your chance to do it!  If you need to look wary or playfully curious – think of the story behind why you’re feeling that way, and then cast the camera as your counterpart and act away!  You have to tell an entire story without ever using your words – talk about primal!  This kind of communication ties into our oldest, deepest, and most ancient connection – our ability and our practice, however out of shape it may be, of communicating on that electric level.  Our ability to say, “I’m so glad to see you,” or “Maybe I should go” without ever uttering a word.  And this form of communication, you will notice, is infinitely more powerful than any combination of words ever spoken.

Tips here would include not mistaking drama for emotion – you don’t have to dredge up an episode of Gossip Girl, for crying out loud – just put yourself on the level and imagine you are wherever you need to be.  Get lost in it, lose yourself in the story, lose yourself in thought – whatever you do, you do NOT want to be on set in front of the camera – that will be painfully obvious to everyone viewing the results.  Guide your thoughts and then follow them – all of your body movements, language, and energy will fall into place.

Lost in thought.  Present in form.

Lost in thought. Present in form.

There are plenty other physical details that you can work on in order to become a strong, intriguing model, but those will come in time.  A good photographer will remind you to lengthen your neck or adjust your angles, but no photographer, designer, or director can get inside your soul and brew up a story that will grab the attention of every brain in the room.

So, if you work on only one thing, focus on your eyes and the story that they are telling to the camera.  Once you’ve mastered this childlike creativity, you’ll have every brain and every body with all eyes on you, ready for more.

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