America's Next Top Model: Episode 9.2 Best and Worst Photos
With our first themed photo shoot of cycle 9 of America's Next Top Model, it's time to start really seeing what the new group of modelettes are really made of.

It's fun every single time to see a girl transformed; even after watching an entire season with Jaslene, it was still interesting to me to see the new shots of her plastered on the walls of the new America's Next Top Model house, and see how our little Jaslene continues to bring an editorial edge to her photos. She was one of the contestants from last cycle who was the biggest surprise in her first photo shoot. When the panel saw her fierce Death Penalty photo, they realized there was a lot more to this girl than just her “tried out for cycle 7 and was rejected” story.

So which of these new girls underwent a similar transformation in her first major shoot? And which girl fell flat? I've got my picks…are they yours?

But before we get into that, I must first make a few observations about the episode.

First off, some might disagree, but I think the shoot was not very successful as a smoking deterrent. The majority of the frame of the photo for each girl was taken up with the glamorous image of beautiful women gracefully holding a cigarette. No matter what the underlying message, I think the juxtaposition of beauty + cigarette has such an immediate and visceral response that it trumps the more complicated thought process that is required to then look at the grotesque image (which, again, is not the focal point of the frame), and then link the two.

After all, sticking a beautiful and sexy woman near a product is an age-old marketing technique. Doesn't matter what the product is, if you want to sell it, have a pretty woman holding it. And as a former short-term smoker, the photos didn't make me glad I gave it up; they made me subconsciously crave a cigarette.

Second, let's just all take a moment and reflect on how much we love Miss J.

And lastly, if America's Next Top Model is going to pull a stunt like making Heather do her shoot with another person – since it is extra challenging for her due to having Asperger's Syndrome – they should at least be upfront about why they're doing it.

Obviously, Heather is going to have a harder go of things than some of the other girls.  Although I really like her so far, and therefore would prefer to see her coast through, throwing a big challenge like this her way might be a good idea. She can push herself within the competition and develop her own coping mechanisms for shoots and other professional modeling environments that are going to naturally be challenging for her. But it seems disingenuous for the show not to own up that it wasn't some random coin toss that landed Heather with the theme that forced her to work with someone else.

Now, I am climbing down off that soapbox, and puttin' on my Tyra wig so I can get to judging some photos.

First off, my two top picks. Until we get down in numbers, I will probably select a couple best and worst each week. And I have to say, it was tough this week to determine who came out as best. Unlike many first shoots, there were loads of lovely and interesting pictures from these newbies. So this week, I picked as the best the two who seemed to have some kind of extra spark that set them apart…


Lisa. Wow, she looks like a model. She has the face and the build of the women you see in Vogue magazine. But she's not just beautiful and intriguing in the one shot, she has some subtle pathos happening in the distressed shot that looks sophisticated for this level of competition.

She already had her exotic dancer job thrown in her face by Bianca during their catfight, and Bianca might have a point that America isn't ready for an exotic dancer Top Model. But Lisa seems to have plenty of modeling potential even if she's not the “Top.”

Sarah. I don't know if anyone else will agree with me, but I think this photo is so fantastic. She looks like a Vargas pin-up girl, and although she doesn't have the same frame as the usual model, I think her curvier legs actually make the photo fresh and interesting and captures your attention better than it would if she were a size two. Her smoking damage shot is less subtle than Lisa's but still successful.

But the main reason I picked them as the best: I really can't wait to see what they both do next. Of all the girls, I am anticipating their shoots next the most.


Mila. No. Just no. I usually try to temper any negative comments with some positive, because these girls are human beings and might make the mistake of reading about themselves on the internet. But I know Mila can remain relentlessly positive no matter what, and so I'm just going to say that Tyra and panel made the right choice this week. Next.

Bianca. Her face is amazing. Her body is excellent. But this shot is a mess. The judges liked her smoking damage reflection but I don't see fashion in that at all. It looks like someone mugging for the camera. She needs some practice, but the girl has got bone structure for days so if she puts in her mirror time, the other girls better watch out.

I know Ebony's photo kind of seemed like a disaster on the show, but at least hers – out of context – seemed kind of interestingly weird. Like if you hadn't seen the shoot or the other models, her photo might actually work in some kind of smoking-mannequin editorial. So she squeaked by this week. Step it up, Ebony!

So there are the picks! I'll be back every week with the newest set, but the fun part is making your own. Who do you think rocked their shot? Who flopped it?

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Images courtesy of CWTV)