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Should You Smile in a Professional Headshot?

How to look good in headshots and pose for professional photos



Want a photographer’s take on whether or not you should smile in a professional headshot? You’re in the right place! This blog will give you my insider secrets on expression, styling, posing, lighting, and MORE!


Three Tips to Looking Good in Your Next Professional Headshot


#1 Lighting


One of the keys to looking good in headshots and posing for professional photos is quality natural lighting.


When I provide a Human Headshots session for corporate and business clients, I help advise them in getting just the right lighting for a great headshot.


The very best lighting is natural light from a window or outdoors. Choose a space in which you can get light from a window that’s slightly diffused because you don’t want it to cast distracting shadows across your face or body. If you wear glasses, you may need to adjust yourself so you’re parallel to the window to reduce glare on the lenses. The goal is even lighting to provide you professional headshot results like these.


#2 Consider the Angle


Should you look directly into the camera for professional headshots and portraits?


My answer: Yes!


Looking into the camera is a great angle for professional headshots as it shows engagement and makes it feel human. Whatever you’re looking at will typically be where the viewer’s eye goes as well, so it’s important to connecting the photo as a whole.


You may need to experiment with different angles to find exactly the right one to highlight your unique features but in general, you’ll want to position your face towards the camera, avoiding any tilt that distorts your facial features. Keep your eyes at eye level or slightly above to create a more natural look.


#3 Expression and Posing


Should you smile in your headshot?


The answer is, “It depends.”


I personally believe that showing your authentic self in your headshots. I encourage my clients to show friendliness, warmth, and welcome in an engaging, relaxed expression that showcases their natural features.


Smile naturally but avoid the urge to over-smile and making exaggerated expressions for a professional headshot.


If you want to find out what works best for you, try some photos smiling, some with a small smile, and experiment with showing teeth vs. not.


When considering how to pose for for professional photos, remember that your body language can say a lot about your personality and the message your photo conveys. Think about what you want to convey and use your body language to communicate it. Stand up straight, shoulders back, and maintain an open and confident posture that looks approachable and professional.


The pose is up to you! There’s everything from a classic pose to arms crossed to hands on your hips! Try posing with different sides of your face at an angle to see which is your “good side” and try to avoid tilting your head significantly. A small amount of tilt can look friendly, but too much can look a bit like a lost puppy and not very professional for your headshot.


Practice with posing until you look and feel your best in your headshot.


The Number One Key to Getting Your Best Professional Headshot


Looking good in your professional headshot and posing for photos has many nuances to it. There are factors to consider including the lighting, camera angling, styling, expression, posing, and more that often go overlooked when taking it, but show in the results.


For the best professional headshot results, I encourage you to work with a photographer, like me! I offer a hands-on and engaging approach and an extensive professional photography background, and I also have a secret ingredient I didn’t share in this blog that is the icing on the cake.


With my experienced eye, I make critical live-time decisions and ensure we get the right shot.


There’s a lot of nuance to taking a great headshot and micro adjustments make a big impact in the final result.


Ready to get started and look your very best in a headshot? Contact Me!


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