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The Body Language That Photographers and Their Models Know

Modeling is a two-way process in that the photographer already knows what their final photograph should look like, whilst the model is trying to interpret the instructions that the photographer is giving them. This kind of communication is so that the model is displaying the most appropriate body language to show off the kinds of clothes that they are modeling. This article will explore the body language of those wanting to enter either field.

Facial Expressions

A facial expression is a nonverbal form of communication. It is achieved by a motion that positions the muscles beneath the skin of the face in such a way that it conveys a mood. That is, the emotional stage of a human being. This can be used to great effect in photography. It can be linked to whether the clothing being worn by the model is casual or formal dress wear. It can add variety to a set of images taken. It can give its model a personality. This in particularly important in the first instance when a modeling portfolio is put together to look for work. A model will want to show their versatility in being able to model a variety of clothing. If it is a calendar shoot, they will want to look as pleased by winter as they do about it being summer. Nobody wants to look at a sad face on a calendar.

Apparently, a total of 21 facial expressions have been identified in humans. These are, to put them in alphabetical order, rather than how often we convey them: Angry, Angrily Disgusted, Angrily Surprised, Appalled, Awed, Disgusted, Disgustedly Surprised, Fearful, Fearfully Angry, Fearfully Disgusted, Fearfully Surprised, Happy, Happily Disgusted, Happily Surprised, Hatred, Sad, Sadly Angry, Sadly Disgusted, Sadly Fearful, Sadly Surprised, and Surprised.

So, it is worth practicing these emotions and hybrid emotions in a mirror until you achieve just what it is you are supposed to be representing. This applies to photographers and models alike, so that they become familiar with them all.


There is no doubt that the face is the most expressive part of the body but that is not to say other parts of it cannot convey mood, too. How we hold our body, for instance, can make us look more casual or relaxed.

To convey a relaxed body image, for instance, you could have eye contact without staring, relax your shoulders, and be smiling or laughing. In the case of a photograph, if you are really laughing then, although there is no sound, it should still be apparent. Faking it may not create a realistic shot. This is as opposed to a facial expression that will need to be forced and therefore require practice to achieve a realistic result. This casual image, then, will help ultimately to sell more leisure clothes or walking boots. In contrast, not wearing shoes for the shoot will make it look more casual and create a more care-free image. An open jacket or hands in pockets will also create a more casual image.

To look attractive, which naturally sells what is being worn, the body should be standing tall, perhaps with heels on, keeping the head held up high, and perhaps holding a drink to one side. That drink would not need to be an alcoholic one, if it is not a cocktail dress that is being worn.


You might want to consider that what appears attractive to one person, might not to be thought of as being that by another. For instance, a male looking at a female image might look at it differently to a female looking at a female image, and vice versa. The professional photographer will be familiar with their market and rely on reputation in that respect.

So, much to think about for the photographer and model alike. One thing for certain is that height still matters. The standard height requirement is that a female fashion model should be 5 feet and 9 inches to 6 feet; and a male model, 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet.