Essential Facial Expressions for Photo Shoots

Much of the attention in photo modelling is given to the way a model poses and dresses. Yet, little or no attention is given to facial expressions. Expressions will make or break a photo shoot. Photos will be soulless and tell nothing. It is suggested that every model has a couple of expressions, which she is good at, up her sleeve. That way it gives character and meaning to her photos. This article describes some of the very basic facial expressions, which which you should attempt to capture in order to have a full photo session.

In order to improve the overall facial expressions when posing for a photo shoot, a model should use her hands, palms and fingers in a way to compliment and maximize her expressions.

Day dreaming and fantasizing

This is a pensive mood in which you dream about your aspirations, nostalgic moments and sentimental places. Your facial expressions should be calm and relaxed.

portrait face expressions

"Sparks" captured by Alexandra Catana (Click Image to See More From Alexandra Catana)

Chin can be cupped in both palms of the hands or head leaned over palm of the hand. Head can be rested on both hands too.

Loneliness and sadness

Here you should let your mind drift and detach yourself from your surroundings. You should look deep within you and come face to face with your worst fears and heart aches. In order to bring out the best emotions you should feel them rather than act them. Your facial expressions should be tense and stressed.

facial emotions

Photo captured by Szeredy Photography (Click Image to See More From Szeredy Photography)

Palm of the hand can be held over the mouth or touching your temple.


This should be a straight forward and easy emotion to get across in your photos. Think of enjoyable moments with your family and friends, or funny situations that keep bringing a smile on your face.

happy portrait subject

"Girl at Metro" captured by Edgar Barany (Click Image to See More From Edgar Barany)

You can run your fingers through your hair or hands can be held over the tummy when laughing out loud.

Sensual and seductive

For many models it comes naturally while others have to put more work in it. Most of the expressions should be transmitted through the eyes and the tilting of the head. Your facial expression should hint lust-fulness and seductiveness.

portrait photography

Photo captured by Elena Novik (Click Image to See More From Elena Novik)

Fingers can touch softly the lips with mouth parted. Your fingers can touch delicately other parts of the face like the cheek or the neck.

From my experience, I can say that models with a background in acting and dancing, usually find it very easy to express a wide range of emotions through their face and body. If you work closely with your model, it makes sense to work towards perfecting these expressions.

About the Author:
I have been fascinated by the human body since the tender age of 7, always with a pencil in hand sketching figures and models. Photography for me is a way through which I aspire to capture the beauty, emotions and passion transmitted through the human body. Source:

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