Regarding something specific in this post... I don't know if you ever described this in another blog post or not (I suppose I could look harder..), but I am very curious what your preferred model aesthetic is you speak of. Of course we all know tall and slender with a nice face. But every photographer has a taste in women that really speaks to them, whether it be their features, expressions or general aura. Although sometimes I suppose it's hard to put a finger on it. I'm hoping you will elaborate on your definable taste in subjects... :)
What a great question! While I should be working on the many shoots that I am now backlogged, I'm going to spend some time and elaborate on a truly intelligent question that ironically has never been asked. Perhaps it's the difference that of a female perspective?
Historically I have always chosen the "pretty" ones versus the "interesting-looking" ones.
And sadly, it's usually the pretty ones that fall so hard and flat in front of the camera. Yes, there's an observable inverse correlation between a model's looks and their ability to model.
Ability to model ranks pretty damn high in my book. I look for the telltale signs of a newbie model. Same poses. Different pictures from the same shoot. Same look rinsed and repeated over multiple shoots. Limited range of expressions. No growth over time.
But if I were to look back in time and choose my favorite models and then build a physical archetype from those girls, she would be something like 5'10 or so, 115-120lbs, size 0/2, dark blonde/light brunette, light-colored eyes, long and skinny legs, with an exceptional face. Nothing out of the ordinary.
And of all those attributes, a model's facial features to me are most important. Perhaps it's my historical attraction to great faces. So when I select models, I err on the side of good-looking. That being said, if I can infer that she can pose and possesses a range of facial expressions, then I can relax those requirements. But on the face, I love a great set of cheekbones and eyes.
Yet of all the attributes listed above, I believe that the best attribute of all is a great attitude. While unfortunately undetectable via images, a good-looking model with a terrible attitude is worthless to me. Which brings into question personality. What I seek of a model is total flexibility. Someone who is up for any challenge and can truly transform into whatever we create. That model has to be open-minded and able to go with the flow. For example, when I tested Stephanie Loba we didn't have a wardrobe stylist on hand. While we'd be otherwise limited to the few items that Stephanie brought, she actually suggested using some curtain fabric to do this:
That kind of improvisational attitude is totally addicting and opens a world of possibilities. Especially with testing when so much of the creation is ad-hoc and spontaneous. Of course it doesn't hurt that Stephanie is stunningly beautiful.
I guess my favorite models are true chameleons. They can be anything you can imagine and more. They might even lend you ideas to what they can become. Perhaps the most alluring part of the chameleon is that she stretches my imagination and pushes my creativity. Challenging me without being challenging. Easy-going without being wishy-washy.
And as my tastes grow more and more particular, I test less and less. It's impossible to infer that much from a set of pictures. One can only hope. But the combination of the aforementioned attributes is a very rare combination. And I don't have as much time as I used to :)