In today’s advertising, portraits of everyday people in casual, real-life situations are more modern and transparent. The people may be models and the shoots may be carefully art-directed and professionally lit, but they shouldn’t look it. Depending on the situation, if the subject is making eye contact with the viewer, the images can be much more impactful.
It's a cliché that the eyes are the windows of the soul, but there's a grain of truth to it. Psychologically, our brains are hardwired to trust people that have a direct gaze. Whether it's true or not, we tend to think of liars and criminals as "shifty-eyed". Eye contact can communicate believability, trustworthiness and earnestness—even in photographs—plus forge a powerful sense of connection. It can make the viewer feel that someone cares about their problems and that they will be listened to. In fact, in healthcare settings, doctors who don't make eye contact are often pegged as "uncaring" by their patients, which can have a huge impact on patient satisfaction and overall wellbeing.
You want consumers to picture themselves (or their family and friends) in the visuals you’re choosing—making them more likely to stop and listen to your message. When your brand is looking to establish trust in the eyes of consumers, the visuals you choose play a big part.