By November 23, 2013

Sending Correct Message Through Advertisement Photos


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 than commercials in that the senses they appeal to are limited to 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 indeed 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, below are a few basic tips for starters.


  1. One of the foremost tip 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.


  1. If you need to make a female appear maximum 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 can 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 exact same poses for some of them. This would show them mirroring each other and hence involved. Also, 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, you can try to make the two display maximum body contact, especially touching at hips. If for some reason the couple is walking together, you can try the same foot forward for both of them. 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. Both of them can be leaning forward to project interest in discussion, sharing similar postures for hands and feet.
  5. When ad is using kid models, and the ad is also meant for kid 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 (Paul Ekman, refer to article on basics of expressions and emotions). Thus kids use more pronounced expressions than adults. For example, you want to depict a kid who has done mischief and is standing in front of his mother who is inquiring about the mischief. You can show the kid covering his mouth with both hands to refrain from answering, or closing his eyes tight shut to block out the scolding.
  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.  

To sum it up 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 learn more on Photography using  correct bodylanguage attend our workshop Workshop for photographers – Capturing the Correct poses  going to be held in June’19.

Posted in: How To's

About the Author:

Khyati Bhatt has trained for mastery in Nonverbal Communication with retired FBI special agent Joe Navarro. She founded Simply Body Talk in 2013 to help individuals and corporates fine tune their nonverbal behavior and nonverbal communication. Khyati believes in taking a scientific approach to body language. Her experience as a wealth manager, currency trader, and family entrepreneur has helped sharpen her nonverbal instincts. She is a fervent reader and has explored the work of many psychologists and anthropologists in her field of work.

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