After trying a few different backgrounds, my model and I flipped positions. She stood by a light, and I was facing back at her. There are a few tweaks I’d make to this image in a second round. The depth of field is too shallow. I shot this wide open with an F1.4 lens. Also, because the light source is behind our subject, she doesn’t have catchlights in her eyes. I suppose one could paint those in post but using a small light by the photographer might be the best route.
The model called this her “Mona Lisa smile.” In the event photography I do, big smiles are always a great option. And the photographer sets the tone in that regard. People mirror what they see to some degree. In the studio, I’ve been using a more serious approach. There’s a fine line though. I want a steady, serious expression. But if the mouth turns downward, the image doesn’t work. So, the “Mona Lisa smile” is a happy medium. The expression is horizontal with a slight upturn of the mouth at the edges.