ESP = Expression Sells Portraits

Expression. There is an old photographer’s adage that goes like this: ESP or Expression Sells Portraits.

That’s because the expression on a subject’s face tells the story of who they are. If they only have one look on their face, their portfolio or your presentation of images to them for sale will be monotonous. Be sure to look at both sides of the subject’s face. Most people—even supermodels—have one side of their face that photographs better than the other side but don’t let that stop you from posing them one way or another.

Old Question: Eyes open or closed? This was the first of a sequence of nine images made with the subject and I tried several variations with smiles but the shot with her eyes closed produced the best expression. The lighting set-up used one Elinchrom BX500Ri monolight with one of their Portalite lightbanks placed at camera right and close to the subject. The second Elinchrom monolight with another Portalite mounted was placed at camera left and at the very back of my (not all that big) camera room. The above image was shot with a Canon EOS 5D with EF 135mm f/2.8 lens and an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/14 and ISO 125.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.13.43 AMIf you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting, in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from The money we make from affiliate marketing with Amazon costs you nothing but keeps us online, so thank you for your continued support!

Author: Joe Farace

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