The Difference Between a Model and a “Good Looking Face”

Just because someone is good looking doesn’t mean they’ll make a great model.

The woman in the photo above is an agency model, and on a Tamron press outing years ago did a great job working with a number of journalists. But, it brings up something very important in the industry: photographers need to understand that someone being good looking doesn’t mean they’d be a great model. This advice is more so targeted to novice photographers. While it may be nice to ask someone you met on Instagram to pose for you, that doesn’t guarantee a great encounter. Much of this is evident in the images in a portfolio.

Higher shoulder towards a wall. Have the body bear most of the contact on the bicep. Pivot the subject 30 degrees backward. Bring the hair to the opposite side. Bring the arms along the body to give a more natural appearance, or bring them up to flatten the profile a bit. And again, watch the nose.

Samantha (in the image above) wasn’t always such a great model, but genuinely wanted to do it. Part of this required more work while on set. As always, photographers should openly communicate with their subjects. So, what makes for a great model to work with?

  • Awareness of their own body in different lighting
  • Communication with the model to show them their framing in the scene
  • A good selection of clothing and makeup
  • A specific mentality that shows in how they carry themselves
  • Actors and actresses can do a great job because they’re used to being put into different roles psychologically

The man in the image above was POSITIVELY FANTASTIC TO WORK WITH. The reason why is because I was able to talk with him and have him channel a specific feeling and persona that came through in the images. Combine this with his fantastic wardrobe and overall look and you’ve got a winner. To be a model, you’re doing a 24/7 job that is all about ensuring your look is great. It takes sacrifice or else your job suffers.

Can you get a great image from a person with just a pretty face? Sure. But your keeper rate when working with people who holistically commit to being models goes up much more. In the end, it’s about making better pictures. Plus, the worst thing to be called is the friend with the camera. Don’t keep your “pretty friends” around just because they’re pretty.