Thanks to everyone who participated in yesterday’s test. I got a few comments and a few emails and merged the thoughts into the following summary.
Almost all of the ladies preferred photo number one. They felt it was friendlier, warmer, “less slutty”, and more inviting. The men preferred photo number two. They felt it was “sexy” and “sultry”. My photography teacher from high school also liked photo number one, but because of composition, not because of expression.
Jenna was flipping through my portfolio over the weekend because I added a lot of new photos to it, and she came across those two. She REALLY likes photo one and really doesn’t like photo two – for the same reasons that all of you ladies liked photo one. I preferred photo two because I find it more provocative, striking, and in-your-face. I’m a big fan of closely cropped portraits.
It felt to me from the comments that the main objection women had to photo two was the expression, not the composition. I personally find photo one to look like a police mug shot… not very interesting to me. Yes, she’s smiling, but it’s just not that exciting.
In a way, I blame my formal college education for my preference. There was a great deal of emphasis on commercial photography (fashion, glamour, etc.) where sultry facial expressions are the norm. If you don’t believe me just flip through Maxim, Vogue or Cosmo.
Thus, when I’m shooting family portraits, they tend more towards photo number one (but hopefully more interesting than a “mug shot” pose), and when I shoot model portfolios and comp cards they tend towards photo number two.
Anyhow, it just goes to show that Jenna and I are representative of our respective genders when it comes to photographic preference. Go figure.