Okay, get ready … This is gonna hurt.
Photoshop won’t fix this. “Nice try, but” you have to re-design the entire shot.
(1) The front of the pillow, by her left arm, is completely blown out. It merges with her sleeve and all detail is lost.
(2) No catch-lights in the eyes.
(3) Lack of crisp, sharp focus throughout.
(4) The choice of composition and camera-angle is dangerously coffin-like. Even though the girl is obviously quite alive, the subliminal impression will not be lost and so it must be eliminated.
(5) General lack of color. If interpreted as a black-and-white shot, there is not nearly enough graduation in the tonal-range: it quickly goes to black or to white with not much in-between. Crucial details are lost throughout the picture because of this.
(6) I don’t know what to make of the bared bra-straps on her right shoulder. If this is to be a sexy come-on, then make it exude sex! Much more likely is that this is to be a portrait: she would have quickly fixed her collar had she noticed it. Go with that. A true sex-shot cannot be “halfway,” it’s damn-close to porn if you get it right, and you usually don’t and so it comes across with all the appeal of a premature %| … The camera really is a terrible lover, and most of the “how to do glamour shots” books are really there just to sell books to lonely men in photo stores. In short: I don’t think that you intend to depict her as though she’s waiting for you to finish getting undressed and hop in the sack with her, therefore eliminate all traces of the suggestion – both by her wardrobe and by the camera angle. (And then, for how and where all the “sexy” magically comes back, see #9.)
(7) The three-point lighting rules that you read about in CG texts originate in formal photography and must be applied here. Use colors too, even in a B&W shot.
(7a) Don’t crop in the camera. Shoot more, then crop.
(7b) Even for a B&W final image, shoot in color. It gives you three or four separate color-channels that you can individually tune to create the final image, instead of just one. (A great film-and-darkroom trick also, BTW.) In Photoshop/GIMP, manually check each of the color channels and the gray channel … use the histogram to make sure that each one is carrying its weight, conveying useful information.
(8 ) Re-consider your entire composition: camera position (the viewer’s point of view relative to her), framing (it’s choked-in much too close!), and setting. Having her in bed doesn’t do it. She is a beautiful woman, but you, the photographer, must make her look beautiful to the camera.
(9) The word glamour shot does not have to mean a sex shot. You do the photographic part … make her look great and feel great … and she’ll provide the “sexy.” The personality. It will just happen. It takes just a little bit of acting – a little bit of projecting of personality right into that camera and straight through it out of the printed page. I don’t know how women do it … no man does … but they do, and you can count on it. She can give the shot just as much or as little “sex” as you may want in the picture. Remember: In a good glamour-shot, the viewer is not there. You are not the second actor in the scene: it’s strictly her show. Put her in a situation where she’s relaxed and confident and feels as beautiful as she is, then wait for the moment. She’ll be tense at first, then relax a little bit and get into it and bam! it will happen. Don’t take your finger off the trigger. Go with the photographic moment whereever it goes. She’ll come across like dynamite.
(10) As you redesign the shot, put your camera on a tripod with the timer and put yourself in front of it and shoot a memory-card’s worth of test shots … of yourself. This might take a day or more. Review it all before you ask the model to return. Since you know her, and since it’s for her promo-piece, show her the mock-ups of what you have in mind at the start of the session. What mood do you want? What are the expected standards for a “facebook,” according to her, the customer?
(11) Think about the light most of all. Reflectors can be rented for cheap in most places… but almost anything off-camera that reflects light can be pressed into service. Thin muslin cloth, stretched over a frame of any kind, makes a cheap diffuser. There’s the wonderful old trick of a piece of ladies’ panty-hose stretched over the lens. The outdoor lighting is wonderfully long in the mornings and evenings this time of year. No form of indoor light is quite as good: incandescent lights are red and fluorescents are green.
(12) Get, or rent, a very good digital camera. A digital SLR. I don’t think that you want to use film, much less a 4x5 view camera… You need absolutely the best input that you can get.