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Old 19th August 2010   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Courtney: New test series

Over the past several seasons we have marked the career achievements of plus-size model Courtney Hanneman (formerly with Dorothy Combs), a friend and ally of the site, who is now going by her married name, C.J. Legare. Readers were delighted with the size-positive article that she penned for her monthly column (which runs in several Texas community newspapers), just as they were with her efforts on behalf of the "Big Brothers, Big Sisters" organization.

Courtney, who may be edging back into modelling, recently shot two fascinating test series--one, a group of headshots, the other, a bona fide fashion shoot with plenty of full-length views. It is our privilege to be able to share the results with our readers.

Invariably, the images that agents choose to publish from models' tests differ greatly from the choices that we ourselves would make, given the opportunity. The Judgment of Paris naturally favours pictures that display as much of a model's fullness as possible, as does the general public. We were therefore pleased that, in this case, Courtney allowed us to make our own selections from her shoots.

The current post covers the results of Courtney's headshot series. Although it was shot in just one location, with a single wardrobe look, each individual photo is very different. These images illustrate how widely a model can vary her pictures, creating a unique persona for every frame, simply by adjusting her poses and facial expressions.

We begin with a fun, playful headshot. Courtney flashes a big, high-wattage smile, with the strong sunlight amplifying the cheery effect. Figuratively and literally, she glows. The light subtly illuminates her tresses, giving them extra fire, while the "measured messiness" of the hairstyle suggests a touch of wildness on her part, as does the glint of mischief in her eyes. She is a tigress, to be sure, yet she conveys a warmth and a sense of invitation as well.

Click to enlarge

In the next image, the model's gaze is serious without being grave. One senses intelligence and depth in her eyes, yet sincerity as well. Her tresses are romantically wavy, but controlled, in keeping with her demenaour. The overall impression is that of a sophisticated femininity marked by a noble bearing. The reddish hue of the model's hair plays off well against the lush grassy background, as it does against the royal blue of her dress. The necklace is ornate and decorative, adding a touch of richness to the outfit, while keeping the overall impression fun rather than formal. (The model styled her own look.)

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Changing demeanours yet again, Courtney adopts a fashion staple--the big, open-mouthed smile. Properly done, as it is here, this can be an endearing look, communicating a model's untrammeled joy in her own being, a joy that she transmits across the computer screen, right to the viewer. Note the curve of fullness at the model's neck--a highly sensual detail. Also, observe the photographer's clever use of lighting. While the model's smile is what first captures the viewer's attention, the sunlit area at the bottom of the frame draws the eye downwards, prolonging the viewer's interest in the image.

Click to enlarge

The next photograph comes closer than any other to showing off Courtney's magnificent size-18/20 figure. This image is the most easygoing in the series. It exudes the kind of gentle sensuality that one associates with a buxom German Mädchen. (Given that just two frames ago she adopted such a serious, intense expression, the model's range is remarkable.) She appears warm-hearted, non-threatening, and open to the viewer's interest in her. The pose suggests the luscious proportions of her figure, as evidenced by subtly seductive details like the fullness of her arms at the edge of the frame.

Click to enlarge

If one were to construe a narrative for this test series, one would say that in the next picture, the model has registered the viewer's interest in her and plays on it, fanning the flames of desire. Once again, her eyes flash a look of mischief, but unlike the girlish coquettishness of the first picture in this thread, here she is more devilish, her expression laced with sensuality. No longer so innocent, she draws more of her figure into the frame, having noted, with pleasure, the effect that her curves have upon the viewer. The photographer once again contributes to the allure of the image, allowing the sun to illuminate the model's contours.

Click to enlarge

The following image is the most daring in the entire series. With this picture, Courtney demonstrate how a model can test for intimate apparel even without changing her wardrobe. Having seized the viewer's attention, she no longer holds anything back, but boldly displays her stunning curves. In the conjectured narrative of the test, the girl has now blossomed into a full-blooded woman. Her eyes smoulder. The kittenishness of the first picture has developed into a predatory demeanour, a display of raw hunger. The hand behind the neck (a dramatic gesture) infuses the image with movement, even as it allows her figure to push open her dress. The light illuminates the dazzling fairness of her bare skin.

Click to enlarge

The next image continues the alluring effect, but in a different manner. The model shifts from the sinful carnality of the previous image into something more self-satisfied, an expression of pleasure in her own physical being. "Just look at how delightful I am," she seems to say. The way in which she plunges her hands in to her tresses captivates the viewer, who subconsciously yearns for similar tactile engagement. Whereas the previous image showed the model on the hunt, as it were, her voracious appetite unleashed, verily enticing her prey, now she relishes her conquest, enraptured with the power of her own beauty.

Click to enlarge

Taking a very different turn, in the following image Courtney adopts an earnest mien. The angle of the camera, and the way in which her tresses billow in the wind, brings to mind a sculpture from the prow of an old sailing vessel, or Kate Winslet's famous standing-at-the-bow scene in Titanic. The model's facial features look especially attractive here, with a sensual fullness in the cheeks that speaks of well-fed vitality.

Click to enlarge

The final image is the most alluring in the series. Rather than the overt rapacity that she displayed earlier, here she reveals a deeper hunger, a more intense longing. Her desires seem limitless. In this image alone, Courtney allows herself to appear vulnerable, exposing her wants and needs. The lighting is now a warm glow, unlike the chiaroscuro contrasts of the previous images. She no longer thrusts her hands into her hair; instead softening her movements into gentle caresses. What particularly makes this image so seductive, though, is the visible fullness of the model's facial features. The viewer fixates on the curve under the chin--the epitome of feminine facial beauty. Well fed, yet still wanting more, her transgressive appetitiveness no longer hidden, the model closes the series with a study in passion.

Click to enlarge

Kudos to Courtney for creating such an intriguing headshot series. She ably demonstrates her modelling range, and dramatically displays her attractiveness. As an interesting follow-up exercise, readers may conjecture which of these looks would best suit what types of garments, from casual items to dressier fare to more daring outfits.

We must also commend the photographer, Mia Hendricks (link), for shooting Courtney on location rather than in a studio. The idyllic setting perfectly complements the model's natural beauty, while the lush green hues provide excellent colour contrast. The photographer uses available light to great effect.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post which will feature Courtney's full-length photos--photos that dramatically display her sumptuous size-18/20 curves and confirm once again how much better all styles look on truly full-figured models.

(Click images to view larger.)

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