Some photographers prefer taking nature shots or still life’s because they dislike the unpredictability of living, breathing, and moving models. Unfortunately for them, as much as people will appreciate the artistry in a waterfall or a magnified butterfly’s wings, they do not engage with the picture unless they can see a human element to it. That element is easily provided by a human face – a model – in the picture somewhere. Modelling is an industry in itself, and has turned into a sharp-edged business, but at its core, modelling is all about selling the picture to the customer, a picture taken by the photographer. So here are some ways in which models make a picture interesting.
Engage Human Empathy
At first glance, models have few things in common with the rest of us common folk struggling with acne skin, greasy hair and not-so-fit bodies. But people will gaze longer on a picture with a model than one without, no matter how interesting the background is. Usually it’s just appreciation for the undeniable beauty of professional models; sometimes it’s because good models manage to evoke something in their expressions that we can relate to. Mostly it’s because, in the midst of an outlandish picture, we recognize a human face – and that creates empathy. Empathy can be translated into commercial interest, as marketers and PR specialists full well know, and therefore models are highly sought after in any professional product photography.
Highlight the Product
In any photograph, there is the focal point of it, like the clothes that are being sold or the eagle in the sky. It’s the model’s job to make sure that the subject is highlighted in a way that will make it attractive to a consumer. For instance, a male fitness model will make a body spray look more attractive by virtue of transferring the physical and personal characteristics associated with a fitness model (such as sex appeal, strength, dedication) onto that body spray. It is one of the oldest tricks in the advertising text book. A good model will know how to sell the product but not fade into the background themselves, thus making the photograph a success in commercial and aesthetic terms.
Inject Emotion and Expression
Since photographs cannot capture sound and smell, photographers find all kinds of tricks with light to inject emotion and expression into a photograph. They use sepia tones to make a picture seem old; they will use greyscale to highlight starkness. Sometimes, inanimate objects acquire human-like expressions thanks to the angle of the camera. However, nothing says emotion and expression like a human model. They can express an emotion with a single lift of an eyebrow; think of a non-smoking campaign which features a shop window advertising cigarettes. A model standing in front, face turned to camera and arching a single brow will speak volumes more than lines and lines of text giving the same message.