I did this exercise a couple of times, each time learning a bit more. The first time I spent too much time worrying about light and background and not enough on the model and expressions which is what this exercise is about. For this attempt I set up where I was going to put the model and decided to rely solely on light from a window that front lit the model. The downside was it was difficult to have control over the light with just a venetian blind to control the amount of light. Too much light and parts of the models face burnt out. The contact sheet below shows where too much light let in by no blind meant the models face had over exposed patches. I decided not to worry about lighting but to concentrate on the model and get her properly focused and work through a series of expressions. I had the camera on a tripod and used a wired shutter. I then sat to her side chatting. I asked her to look at different points around the room and different emotions in a fast banter. To me this really worked in getting much better expressions than my previous attempts. Afterwards the model said it was the most fun of any of the shoots.
It was a great exercise in really experimenting with how to get the best out of your model and making it fun for both of you. Next step is to get the images technically correct as well.
Although under-exposed the image with the red circle around it is my favourite of the series. I increased the exposure in RAW and developed as shown below:
What I didn't notice at the time of shooting as many of the earlier frames are too tightly cropped for someone lying back. When I got her to sit forward slightly she looked more natural. I also like the way the light from the blinds has made a square frame around her face, which is particularly interesting as I was trying to not get the lines from the blind in the picture at the time. A useful lesson in trying to make what is there work for you rather than fight against it.