How to send the correct message in advertisement photos

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Author and body language consultant Khyati Bhatt gives her tips on how to create the right message with models in advertising photography

How to send the correct message in advertisement photos
© Vinit Bhatt

Author and body language consultant Khyati Bhatt cannot emphasise enough how helpful it is to learn to read body signals accurately. Though it might sound simple, capturing the body language of models can be harder than it looks, particularly when trying to match this to a product. Khyati gives us some of her top tips for body postures and how these can be used in advertisement photography to achieve the outcome you’re looking for.

“We come across so many advertisements in our daily walk of life. Whether we want to or not, we keep glancing at ads in between TV programs, on bus hoardings, while passing stores in malls, on the notice boards of our buildings, in our mobile apps, while browsing through websites and so on.  Stationary ads have a bigger challenge since they need to depict the entire message through the visuals. So it is necessary for the photographer in charge to ensure that together with the creative head of the ad team he comes up with a picture which communicates the intended message. Body language details of the models in the picture have to be thoroughly precise to avoid any miscommunication.”

While the list of to-do’s is endless, here are a few of Khyati’s basic tips for starters:

Projecting the Right Image Using Different Postures

  1. One of the foremost tips I wish to state is to avoid crossed arms postures; unless you want to project a tough-to-get attitude. Many pictures I browse through seem to be having this pose when the photographer has run out of new ideas.
  2. Authority and confidence: A cigarette smoking individual with air blowing towards the sky can project an authoritative image. So can a man with legs wide open with hands either on the belt or by his side. This is an exposed position, suggesting the person fears nothing.
  3. Don’t forget to double check that the model has a genuine smile when such is intended. A genuine smile would be symmetrical, have webs around the eyes and eyebrows tilted slightly downwards. Also, a tight lipped smile depicts fake enjoyment and can be easily detected by most females.
  4. You can play around with the concept of personal space to depict your concept. For example, if you are using two female friends in a shot, they can be placed close together, displaying comfort even in each other’s personal territory. To show two females in a competitive spirit, you can place them far away from each other, with a neutral or stoic look on their face. Showing contempt on the face (asymmetric smile or nose in the air) can have a negative effect on the audience so remember to use this gesture cautiously.
  5. To display ownership of product, try placing the same very close to the model. A male can be shown putting his foot on the car to suggest he owns the car. A female could be hugging her bag, suggesting she loves her new purchase.
  6. In a close portrait shot, the eyebrow flash, showing a model with raised eyebrows and a smile on the face can be used as a loud signal can draw maximum attention to the ad. A lady with a pout look with wet lips can draw most males to check out the ad.
  7. Using the eyes: To produce an instant appeal to a product, you might want to slightly enlarge the model’s pupils in post production, if a close up shot of the model is used. Research shows people get more attracted to models with dilated pupils.
How to send the correct message in advertisement photos
© Vinit Bhatt

Projecting the Right Image With Specific Models

  1. If you need to make a female appear very attractive, you can try exposing her neck or wrist area in the picture and see if the product to be highlighted can be placed around these areas. Similarly, a seated female with one leg crossed over the other is considered very attractive by most males.
  2. If you wish to produce a tough guy image, your model might have thumbs in pocket or hands on the belt. A bearded look can also work.
  3. For a group shot where people need to appear interested in the activity or product at hand, you can use the same poses for all of them. This would show them mirroring each other and being involved. Similarly in a group pose, the bodies – especially the feet of the individuals – should not be facing away from each other.
  4. To depict a couple in love, encourage the two to display maximum body contact, especially touching at the hips. This tells the audience that the two share great chemistry. Similarly, for a seated down posture, the female can be shown with preening gestures like playing with her hair locks, one shoe dangling towards the male etc. They could be leaning forward to project interest in discussion, sharing similar postures for hands and feet.
  5. When an ad is using children, and the ad is also meant for a young audience, remember to highlight all expressions rather than keep them subtle. When we are young we have yet not mastered what are called display rules and kids use more pronounced expressions than adults.
  6. As most photographers would probably be aware, you can play with the makeup on the female to show the mood of the advertisement. A formal or business setting can have makeup on more subtle tones, preferably light brown or nude shades. A party or totally informal setting can depict makeup according to current trend, like neon or bright shades. The same holds true for the attire of the models as well.

Khyati sums up her advice by saying “I will use the age old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”. The popularity of this saying just stresses the necessity to pay great attention to the message being communicated through a still picture. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a beautifully presented product in an advertisement will do the trick by itself.”

To find out more about Khyati Bhatt and for more advice on how our body talks visit her website at www.simplybodytalk.com

How to send the correct message in advertisement photos
© Vinit Bhatt
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    • Very Expensive. I love your article, Finally.

    • Very nice tips about taking photos. Some who takes photos they give instruction and most of the thing depend on their instruction. In some places they said smile in other places they said just be normal. So good instruction can make nice looking photo. Very detail things are included which is really helpful for photographers. Thanks you very much for sharing this incredible thing.

    • WOW!!!! very nice tips share with us, it’s really helpful for me.

    • Not Bad. Thank you

    • Nice photography

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