There’s a couple of ways you can take figure photos. One uses traditional studio lighting techniques; you place the figure in front of a nice solid or patterned background, place your key light offset by maybe 30 degrees or so and your fill light on the other side, and trip the shutter. If you do it right, you can make a picture that clearly illuminates the figure, showing it off as it is.
Another way to shoot a figure is to manipulate the lighting and setting to achieve a desired effect, and this is how I prefer to photograph figures. Many times, I’m trying to convey a mood or establish an atmosphere rather than show how the figure looks. I readily concede that my pictures aren’t that useful for assessing what a figure looks like or whether it would be a worthwhile purchase, but that’s not what I’m trying to do; my goal is to make my figures and my pictures look as good as I can.
I should mention that a third way to take a figure picture is to take it outside. Definitely a valid approach, but I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically impressive or beautiful about a figure photo taken outside, and as I’m not very good at it, it’s not something I’ll be talking about here.