What’s more important in a model, beauty or skill?

Jan 8, 2017

Joseph Parry

Joseph Parry is a Commercial and Editorial photographer based in the UK that provides cinematic photography and ounces of humour. Follow him on Instagram for stories and kick ass imagery.

What’s more important in a model, beauty or skill?

Jan 8, 2017

Joseph Parry

Joseph Parry is a Commercial and Editorial photographer based in the UK that provides cinematic photography and ounces of humour. Follow him on Instagram for stories and kick ass imagery.

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What is a model? A set of skills? A beautiful aesthetic? A combination of both? Is there a bias in either direction? Is that bias shifted by our personal preference of what we believe to be a “beautiful subject”?

We’re taking photo’s because of first and foremost the subject matter. Take a bowl of fruit for example. Sometimes the perfect fruit might be less interesting subject matter than that of mouldy / decaying fruit.

And by attracted to I’m referring to “interested” in. Something / someone who takes your creative interest.

You may be drawn to / attracted to shooting an old gentleman on the beach with his bottle of beer and a fishing rod, but it doesn’t mean that we’re attracted to them in a sexual way.

For me, in the start of my career / shooting has been based on “because they are available” and then it moved to “They would make a beautiful subject” and now it’s a combination of “They would make an interesting / beautiful subject” in combination with “they are great at what they do”.

For me, it’s a no brainer, a good model is more akin to an actor / actress, capable of delivering emotion on demand and understanding what poses work well for their body.

The deeper it goes I think a model should be able to pay attention to where the camera height is, where the light direction is coming from, the garments they’re wearing and how they impact their shape etc.

In all regards to the craft, they become easier to work with and achieve great results, with less direction required (thought there will always be direction required to some degree).

All of a sudden when you realise how deep of a job role being a model is, you’re left with an interesting question of beauty vs skill vs beauty and skill combined.

I mean for starters, if a model has no knowledge, has to be directed constantly and has no poses in her book, but she’s a beautiful subject to photograph, would you still work with them because of the end result?

Verses for example a slightly less aesthetically pleasing model (based on your preference) who absolutely kills it in every way and was easy as hell to work with.

Could we apply the same standard of thought to the opposite gender?

Is it possible to truly be professional and machine like in our choices? I mean after all, doesn’t our “gut” feeling and personal preference of aesthetic dictate who we choose to work with to begin with?

I know models who work with others and those people love working with them, yet they have never appealed to what I look for in a model and thus have never worked with them.

So I know I can’t sit here and say I don’t have a preference in aesthetic for my subjects, though I should be extremely clear here, I’m not choosing people to work with because of anything sexual or because I’m attracted to them sexually.

I’m simply saying that there are certain traits we like, or that just “click” with us and over time that’s who we find ourselves working with.

I really enjoy working with frail, lithe models with long hair and capable of appearing fragile / delicate. Vs for e.g working with models who give off a strong and confident vibe.

The reason being that the personal story I want to tell in my photography is based on my own issues in life.

Depression, lack of self value, insecurity etc and the subjects I work with often embody these traits through their skill set and it helps me convey the message I want to.

So I’m “attracted” or for a less loaded term “drawn to” subjects that can help me tell my story.

This is a potentially touchy subject to talk about, but I like talking about the subjects that make people uncomfortable. Perhaps people can start checking themselves from time to time and start making sure they aren’t selling themselves short due to habit or emotional response.

What do you think?

Why do you pick a model? Because she’s available? Because she’s attractive to you as a subject / character? Because she has thorough understanding and depth to her skillset? Because you want to practice?

Why do you work with who you work with?

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Joseph Parry

Joseph Parry

Joseph Parry is a Commercial and Editorial photographer based in the UK that provides cinematic photography and ounces of humour. Follow him on Instagram for stories and kick ass imagery.

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12 responses to “What’s more important in a model, beauty or skill?”

  1. Britt Thomas Avatar
    Britt Thomas

    Skill. I’ve had some people who are like dead fish in front of the camera despite being beautiful. It’s so uninspiring.

  2. Vladimir Samsonik Avatar
    Vladimir Samsonik

    Definitely skill and professionalism. There is nothing worse than a crazy person… InlineSix Sam Geals

  3. Owen Avatar
    Owen

    Haven’t even read the article…..Skill!

    Now I will go and read the article. :)

  4. Visiones del Manzana Avatar
    Visiones del Manzana

    Skill. I had beautiful and average women in front of my camera lens. I can definitely say skill makes the difference when the prints come back from the lab.

  5. Allan Alcibar Avatar
    Allan Alcibar

    Depends on the shoot. I would say beauty matters more.

    With digital cameras, you can freely snap enough to get the right shot.

    Looks will get more attention in print ads and social media. No one looking at the pics will care if the photographer had an easy or hard time working the model for the shot.

    The photog can research the subject and be prepared to instruct the unskilled pretty person on how to pose.

    We are a visual species. Photography is a visual medium.

    1. Joseph Parry Avatar
      Joseph Parry

      Interesting response! Totally understand where you’re coming from!

  6. Renato Murakami Avatar
    Renato Murakami

    As with most things in life, the answer is probably: it depends. What’s the project focus? Do you have a complex emotion to convey in the first place, or is the model needed only to serve as a frame to sell a product? And I don’t mean to offend anyone with this… but really, there are shots that you simply don’t really need any type of complex skills, experience or some sort of innate talent.

    1. Joseph Parry Avatar
      Joseph Parry

      Totally understand and agree with you!

  7. Carolyn Gallo Avatar
    Carolyn Gallo

    If there is confidence and trust on both sides of the camera, and if the photographer has at least some understanding of posing and direction, then any “model” can look interesting and maybe even beautiful.

  8. Vaughn Bender Avatar
    Vaughn Bender

    Both, but maybe not equally.

  9. Owen Avatar
    Owen

    Interesting points being put forward so far.

    I would say skill without looks gives you energy and heart. There is something there.
    Beauty with no skill just looks……flat. IMO

    I agree the photographer bears some responsibility to give proper instruction of what they are after, but if the model doesn’t have the skill, sure, they will do the pose, but they will not take it that extra bit, which perfectly captures the audience attention and interest.

    Personally, I find it insulting models without skill. Essentially they either aren’t meant for the industry or, they are not willing to put in the effort. They cannot rely just on their looks. Modelling is about more than just looks.
    Imagine if photographers just turned up with expensive kit, and didn’t know, or bother to learn how to use it.

    1. Joseph Parry Avatar
      Joseph Parry

      “Imagine if photographers just turned up with expensive kit, and didn’t know, or bother to learn how to use it.” we don’t have to imagine :D see it everyday.