The Art of Mastering Facial Expressions
Written by Richard Baldwin,
There are some who assume the only thing you need to be a talented model, is God given beauty and not much else. Once you step in front of the camera lens however; it becomes apparent that there is more to know then just stand and smile. Modeling is about selling a brand, a product, a lifestyle and your face has to tell that story in one shot. The more you can bring to the camera, the more frequent you will likely be booked!
There are quite a few ways to practice your facial expressions, but first you must understand a few things, like, we each have 50 smiles within us. Think to yourself for a moment, we smile different at our boy/girl friend than we do at the police officer about to write a ticket. We smile different with a teacher than we do a family member. Agreeably a multitude of different emotions we feel are interrupted through our facial expressions. So how do we master different facial expressions, to be ready at a calls notice?
Some say the best way to practice facial expressions, is to simply practice in front of the mirror. I ask you though... Does a mirror ever pause? Ever able to be rewound? Of course not! So how do you really know if you're making the same face twice? The answer is, you don't.
What I would suggest, to anyone trying to master the art of facial expressions, is to first understand what you're trying to accomplish with each expression. If you are a model or actor, rookie or expert, you know that people want to see, YOU, through your emotions, through your facial expressions. Therefore, I suggest starting with a list of 10 expressions and why you would use those expressions.
Expression 1: Open Mouth Smile | Uses: Commercial look, Cell Phone Ad, Coffee Ad, Spring Attire, etc.
Expression 2: Pout Expression | Uses: Can be seductive, in a boudoir shoot. Also could be used as a spoiled look. Etc.
Expression 3, 4, 5... etc.
Once you have your expressions written on paper, you can then begin to practice. First you will need some sort of recording device; whether your cell phone camera, hand held camcorder or webcam. Make sure you are practicing in a well lit area, so your expressions can be seen without the fear of a harsh shadow covering an eye, or your mouth.
Second, you will need a mirror, preferably one that could be moved onto a table or desk. When you have all the tools you need ready, start by looking in the camera and reading aloud.. Expression 1: Open Mouth Smile.. Then, practice that specific expression in a variety of ways in front of the camera until you feel you have captured an expression you approve of. After you stop, rewind what you just recorded and on your Expression List, write down which of those expressions you liked out of what you recorded. Ex: face 1,3,7, etc.
Now, you have a desired expression or mood, and you have an approved expression you made for that occasion or use of said expression on camera. Out of the expressions you liked in the recording, narrow it down to your favorite. (Example: Expression try #7 of Open Mouth Smile) Once you have done this, pause the recording, with only that expression left on your screen. Now, take out the mirror and practice making that same face you captured and approved. This, in my opinion and experience, is the best way to create facial muscle memory for the expressions you are wanting to use in your modeling and/or acting.
Over time this process will become easier and easier and you can pull these expressions out of your repertoire at any moment. Photographers and publications love working with a model that can bring more to the camera than just one smile or dead stare. If you truly practice your expressions and learn to master them in front of the camera, your career will advance leaps and bounds further than if you hadn't choosing to rely solely on your one look.