Side-By-Side Comparison - The Whites of The Model's Eyes? Issues and Answers
February 10, 2011
The previous post titled, Side-By-Side Comparison - Do You Want to See the Whites of Their Eyes When Photographing the Model? attracted some excellent comments. A super gigantic "THANK YOU" to everyone who left their opinions.
Let's start with three related questions:
Do you like seeing the model's eyes -- or are the model's eyes a distraction?
Do you prefer seeing the model's entire face?
Does looking at the model's face and eyes distract you from looking at the necklace?
Original Photo Version 2 Cropped w/Photoshop
"Lucia's Poppy Necklace" 2010 © Bruce Metcalf.
Mixed mediums, wood, paint. Model: Natala Covert.
Option A Option B
Recycle Necklace © 2010 Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit:(left) Liz Hickok (right)Emiko Oye
First, let's diagnose the images and issues involved. To begin, the human brain is genetically programmed to look at eyes. Advertizers know this and this is why the models in advertising usually stare into the camera, and "smize with their eyes" to quote supermodel Tyra Banks. The model catches the viewer's eye and STOPS the viewer. High impact and high risk. Brigitte Martin from Crafthaus said in her comments, "For marketing/PR, I would most likely go with the shots where the full face can be seen."
In contrast, most of the comments from readers preferred the images that were cropped above the lips so that the focus was entirely on the necklace. These shots were considered more appropriate to highlight the work, especially for jury slides. The model's eyes are perceived to be a powerful distraction from the jewelry. Andy Cooperman also pointed out that when "including the model's portrait, the amount of the frame occupied by the actual piece becomes much smaller." GOOD POINT!
As an alternative, a common practice when using the model in art and craft photography is to divert the gaze. The model either casts their eyes down (as in the photo above of Bruce Metcalf's necklace) or diverts their gaze to the side as in Marjorie Schicks Spiraling Over the Line (left photo).
AVOID THE GUILLOTINE: If you don't want to include the entire profile, then crop the photo just above the lips. This eliminates the guillotine/amputation problem discussed in a previous ASK Harriete post where cropping a photo cut off at the hand (or the head) looks weird. Cropping above the lips also eliminates any distraction of the eyes, hair, forehead, or ears. Much less to worry about, Phew! Even a stray hair in a photo can be really distracting.
Brigitte Martin from Crafthaus addressed the most important issue when considering a model. "Ad agencies everywhere use specific model types for specific reasons, you will not find a sexy model advertising cleaning supplies. And "granny" won't be able to convince you to buy perfume. The choice in the model, no matter how generic the shot, will ALWAYS influence the viewer, even if you try very hard to stay neutral.
A stylized model shot victimized by the
amputated head approach to jewelry
Don't let this happen to your photos!
It's human nature to react to images of people and to form a subconscious opinion on the spot (DNA remaining from our Neanderthal past). That's why Kate Moss makes the big bucks."
WORDS OF ADVICE: If you decide to use a model, try to align the style of your model to the style of the work. Focus on the objective of the photo. The intended purpose, whether postcard, print, online, jury, or advertising may influence your decision on the best photo.
This post was updated on January 27, 2022.