Facial expressions are yet another domain that you as a model need to master, especially if you are a commercial/print model. While fashion, runway, and editorial models are accustomed to mastering the stoic, blank, seductive look as well as the sexy pout, commercial/print models are required to go above and beyond when it comes to facial expressions. Knowing how to convey emotions is very important in this type of modeling because your job is to sell the product, idea, image, or company name. And in order to do that you have to put forth your best effort to convince the consumer that they want to buy whatever it is that you are promoting. Who would want to buy a new brand of cereal if the model on the box looks like she wants to spit it out?
I like to think of commercial/print models almost as character actors. Depending on what the shoot is for, you need to get into character. It is common for the photographer or project director to give models a scenario or set up a situation and advise the model on how he/she needs to react. This is also where having the ability to follow directions is critical. If you can't get into the moment, you'll never get the shot, and chances are you'll never get called for work with that particular client.
Oftentimes the road to mastering facial expressions in commercial/print modeling can be time consuming and make you feel downright silly but that's good. You're supposed to get out of your comfort zone--that goes for any type of modeling you do. The inability to break out of your shell will hurt your career in the commercial/print field. When it comes to facial expressions it's all about exaggerating but still making the expression "camera friendly." There are ways to convey certain emotions without it looking ugly in the picture. This is where the practice comes in. In a past post I talk about exercises that can be done at home to help you hone your skills. It may seem impossible to practice in front of a mirror and then be expected to know exactly how to pose your face when you're on a shoot. Trust me, it can be done because I do it all the time! I'm very familiar with my face, how it reacts, how it conveys expressions and emotions and I know what works for me and what doesn't. It can be done but it takes time and dedication. Some models are able to pick up on it right away while it may take time for others. And that's okay. You aren't expected to master anything overnight.
Being able to express emotions is important for both male and female models in the commercial/print world. Don't second guess yourself or else you'll always be holding back in some way. It's always better to learn how to be over the top and then tone it down as opposed to having to drag the emotion out of you. If you needed reference images I would suggest visiting stock photography websites and typing in keywords of different emotions such as, "surprised," "anger," "attitude," etc. Speaking of stock photography, if you want to do stock photography modeling, knowing facial expressions will also benefit you greatly in this field. The thing with stock photography is that you will almost always be placed in a natural setting where you aren't required to be so "modelesque." That means posing in a way that looks like the photographer took the image in a real-world, candid type of setting. But expressions and emotions still play a role, which you will see once you start familiarizing yourself with stock photography websites. Here are a few sites I would recommend: