Do you ever look at portraits and wonder why some grab your attention and others just seem to be a bit of a yawn? Often the difference in these two images are minor differences. In portrait photography it is very important to pay attention to minor details. When I am shooting, I have a mental check list that I go through as I see the image in my view finder just before i click to capture the image.
One minor item I have learned over the years of model photography and analyzing many images is “parted lips”. It seems often when a model has her lips closed it produces a boring static image and seems that the picture or the model doesn’t want to communicate with you. I often will ask the model to just slightly part her lips or just show a little teeth. This is not a smile or smirk. It is more like capturing the model while speaking. I had one photographer explain it to me that parted lips produce an image like the model wants to enter into a conversation with the viewer and closed lips tells the viewer to stand back. Photography is all about inviting the viewer into your image and parted lips seem to do exactly that.