How to change your Zoolander like “camera face”?

In 2001 the American Actor and Comedian, Ben Stiller, directed and starred in a film called Zoolander. Have you seen it? What did you think about it? How does it relate to you (or how do you relate to it)?

I ask you these questions because when I first watched it I could not see the point of it at all. However, something deep inside of me made me watch it a second time. When I did sit through it again it was almost like seeing a new film through new eyes. I loved it at a very different level and it helped to prepare me for a recent and important insight about how many people develop a fixed view of how they look, especially when a camera is pointed anywhere near them.

Back to the film, if you have not seen it I will not tell you the complete story because I do not want to spoil it for you. However there are two things that Derek Zoolander, the eponymous lead character, an international male runway model, played by Ben Stiller, absolutely can not do. They are revealed very early in the story and are repeated through out the film (and there is a twist but you will have to watch the film to discover what it is).

Zoolander first personal predicament is explained in this quote from the film “I have problems with turns, because I’m left handed, and they haven’t built a left handed runway yet. I’ve done over 1,000 runway shows in my career, and if you put all those runways end to end, it’d be so long I couldn’t even walk down it without getting tired. I think the only good thing about it would be there’d be no turns.”

His second is that each season he develops a new facial expression, his trademark expression or look”changes” each year (except that it doesn’t) and the final version of his unchanging expression he calls “Blue Steel”.

Perhaps you know someone who ALWAYS presents the same “face” to the camera, someone who has their own trademark “Blue Steel”?  Have you ever wondered how come it is even possible to this when most human beings have the ability to instantly adopt hundreds of expressions and thousands more micro-expressions?

What do you think? Is your camera face stuck in one or two or three fixed modes? How would you feel if you could easily and comfortably stop being like Zoolander and become a normal human being in front of my camera?

Let’s do it, show me your face and let’s celebrate by creating lots of photographs!


stephen cotterell photography



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  • Rammell PhotographyI know a Zoolander and I’m shooting their wedding later this year. The engagement shoot is going to be all about getting a few more of the hundreds of available expressions to come to the party!

    Uncanny how much I can relate to this one, thanks for sharing Stephen.ReplyCancel