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Thursday, December 24, 2009

What makes a good model?

As a person who has worked with his share of models, I learned long ago that a model is more than a pretty face or a beautiful body. In fact, those can perhaps be her least important assets. Certainly looks count, but they can be easily negated by a lack of intelligence or a blank personality. I have found that sometimes the most beautiful girls can be the most difficult to photograph, and those whose looks are nowhere near as striking can have far more impact within the frame - if they have something going on behind their eyes.
A model who has a good sense of self - both physically and personally - is going to be easier for a photographer to work with. If he or she understands how shape and form translate within a frame they make the job of the photographer so much easier. If you can add to that intelligence, social grace, humour and a natural sense of elegance you have a great model. Looks are a bonus.
I had the chance to work with a young model yesterday. Her name is Lauren Busacca. When she arrived I saw a pretty young girl.  Not oustanding, but pretty. However, I learned the moment I pointed a camera at her that she understood the process. She knew light, posing and the meaning of the word 'photogenic'. She knew herself well. She understood the power of her eyes and the need to be more than just pretty. At the ripe old age of 20 she had already had 17 years of dancing experience and her understanding of shape and form was a natural and welcome result. Working with her was one of the most pleasurable shoots of this nature I have ever had. She halved my workload by bringing more than just the physical form of herself. She was just delightful.
The same was true of Axel. Now, I am not an expert on 'handsome' but I didn't see Axel as a particularly good looking  man. But I will say this. He was photogenic, and I enjoyed photographing him also.
I have worked with models whose physical appearance was beautiful, impeccable, striking. However, in many cases, they had little understanding of what was really needed. Their lack of intelligence, their relative indifference or their outrightly boring personalities meant that they did not translate well in pictures. Conversely, I have worked with less attractive models whose very being lives in an image.
If you are a model, perhaps a university student looking for a part time occupation or even something more permanent, don't think for one minute that all you need to bring to the photograph are your physical attributes. Believe it or not, the camera picks up much more than your perfect figure or your Fibonacci face. A good photographer will need more from you than that. Bring your heart, your humour, your intelligence, yourself. For some reason, the camera seems to like those things as well.


lauragray said...

I know that beautiful body and pretty faces are perfect to be a good models, because I'm working as photographer for models almost 4 years, and i want to share my skills, to those who wants.

By the way nice blog!

Shelton Muller said...

Actually, Laura, my point was that it takes much more than just pretty faces or beautiful bodies...
It takes soul...

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller