5 Posing Tips for Professional Headshots


You’ve booked your professional headshot session. And you’ve decided what to wear. But there’s probably still one question gnawing at you:

How do I pose for a professional headshot?

That’s a question we hear all the time, and fortunately, you don’t need to take a modeling course to pose like a pro. One of the best solutions is to work with a professional headshot photographer. A great photographer will put you at ease and provide direction throughout the session to ensure you look your best.

Yet, there are headshot posing tips that will help you feel more confident on the day of your shoot.

This article answers all of your headshot posing questions – from ideas for facial expressions, to posture rules, and determining if a closed or open smile is best. Follow these tips and we guarantee you’ll look great in your professional business headshot.

Practice Posture

Your body language and posture can make or break your headshot. Hunched shoulders and a curved back will make you appear unprofessional, unapproachable and lacking confidence.

Proper posture helps you look more professional and relaxed. What is good headshot posture? Follow these three rules during your headshot session:

  • Straight Back – You should stand tall with your back straight. Try practicing by standing against a wall prior to your shoot.

  • Relaxed Shoulders – With the back straight, subjects have a tendency to stiffen their shoulders. That can come across as stuffy and unnatural. Here’s how to solve this: Roll your shoulders back and let them hang naturally.

  • “Hold The Sub” – Headshot guru Peter Hurley came up with a novel way of improving posture that has a slimming effect in headshot photos. Imagine you are “holding a sub”: at waist level, place both palms up at your sides, and move your hands further to the left and right from your abdominal area.

Chin Out

Subjects naturally have a tendency to hang and tuck the chin. That’s a problem because it reduces definition of the jawline and causes an almost double-chin effect.

Holding the chin out will help you create a stronger jawline and a more defined outline for your face. But how do you do it? Follow this tip: Bring the forehead forward. Bringing the forehead forward will reduce chin tuck and naturally accentuate your jawline.

Communicate with the Eyes

Your eyes are the focal point of the headshot. They draw the most attention. Using the right expression can convey a lot of information about who you are. A natural twinkle, for example, comes off as confident, honest, and warm. A few tips for nailing the look:

  • Squint Slightly – A slight squint (what Hurley calls a “squinch”) helps to define the shape of the eye, and communicates confidence.

  • Wait to Smile – Holding a smile for too long gives your eyes and smile a frozen, unnatural look. One trick: Wait until just before the shot is taken to smile. A skilled headshot photographer will help you to smile naturally without any planning on your part.

  • Practice in the Mirror – Practice your facial expressions prior to the shoot, and experiment with conveying confidence with your eyes.

What’s Your Best Side?

People often have a “good side,” or they prefer to be photographed with a specific shoulder forward. This can help to make blemishes less visible, or balance unevenly sized eyes. So, if you think one side of your face photographs better, speak up and let your photographer know. More often than not, a client will naturally part their hair in a way that shows off their best side. A professional photographer will know to look for this at the start of your shoot.

Smile or Serious?

To smile, or not to smile. That’s a question everyone ponders prior to their shoot. And the truth is, many factors go into making the decision. A smile or lack thereof helps viewers learn a little about you. For example, a smile will help you appear more approachable and genuine, which is a great look for most.

A broad smile might not be appropriate for your line of work in some cases, and therefore a closed smile or even serious expression might be best. Or you could be using headshots for personal branding, and a more playful expression matches your personal brand. These are all considerations you’ll have to make.

But there are benefits to each type of expression, which can help you plan accordingly:

  • Broad Smile – A genuine smile conveys warmth and honesty and can help you look younger. We often recommend a broad smile for professionals that regularly meet with clients or that work in social industries, although this can look great for anyone.

  • Closed-Mouth Smile – A closed-mouth smile is harder to pull off, but when done right, it conveys warmth and approachability, with a bit more maturity. It also results in less facial lines than a broad smile.

  • Serious Expression – Serious expressions can look stiff, sometimes even mean if it’s a flat mouth you’re wearing. That’s why, in this type of photo, the eyes are very important for helping you convey warmth. A serious look can help you look older, more experienced, and dependable.

A Quick Tip: Try to laugh to achieve a more natural and approachable look. For example, with a serious expression, you’d keep your lips closed and try a subtle laugh. This trick can help no matter the expression you choose.

One Last Posing Tip: Remember to Relax

You might be nervous when you arrive for your headshot session. That’s completely normal. And a good photographer will help put you at ease.

But it’s really important to be relaxed. If you’re nervous and tense, you’ll look uncomfortable in your headshots. Fortunately, these tips will help you relax and pose more naturally.

On Point Headshots is a professional headshot studio based in Fort Lauderdale. We provide headshot photography for businesses of all sizes in South Florida. For individuals, book a session with On Point Headshots on our website. For corporate headshot sessions, call now for a quote: (305) 906-2986.