5 Tips so you look great for your headshot

I’ve compiled some top tips to help you look your best in your headshot or business portrait. Whether this photo will be displayed on your company website, set as your LinkedIn profile picture or attached to your name badge, we want you to be proud to show it off. Lots of new people will see this picture before they meet you, so make sure your first impression counts.

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Using the advice below and very little effort, you can ensure that the first impression is that of a well-presented, approachable professional.

Tip #1. Get a good sleep the night before

We all know it’s tempting to stay up late to watch just one more episode on Netflix. But getting an extra hour or 2 will make a considerable difference the following day. If you’re feeling relaxed and positive, you’ll look that way for the photo session. This will also help reduce bags under your eyes and generally make you look more radiant.

Tip #2. What to wear

People can be unsure of what to wear for a professional photo shoot. We always suggest wearing what you usually would when meeting a potential client. Even though a headshot is just head and shoulders, wearing an un-ironed shirt, or a scruffy t-shirt will show in the photo.

If you usually wear glasses, decide whether you’d like to wear them in your portrait. If you aren’t going to wear them, or aren’t sure, take them off around 15 minutes before. This will allow enough time for the red marks on your nose to disappear.

If you wear makeup, don’t be tempted to over apply. This should be a fairly natural representation of yourself. If you usually choose a bold color lipstick, go for it!

My advice would be to generally stay away from trends, be it fashion choices or hairstyles. The headshot or portrait should last you at least two years. Nothing will date it faster than wearing something that was in fashion for a single season.

Tip #3. How to pose

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Place your body at a 45º angle to the camera and head turned back towards the photographer. Don’t worry if this doesn’t make much sense now, a professional headshot photographer will be able to guide you through this during the shoot.

Keep your back straight. As if there is a string pulling you from the top of your head. A poor posture could evoke a lack of confidence. Through a lens, the way you hold yourself reflects how confident you look, so stand tall and be self-assured.

Let your hands drop by your sides or place them in your pockets. Not doing anything with your hands may feel odd at the time, but it looks much stranger on camera when someone is holding their hands behind their back. I will guide you in this area, especially if the picture is a portrait that will include your hands or whole body.

Pushing your chin out slightly will separate your face from your neck and body, and define your jawline. I may ask you to lift your chin or head up slightly, this isn’t because you have a double chin, it’s to ensure the light is hitting your face in the right places.

Tip #4. Work with your best side

Lots of people are aware of having a ‘best side’. This can be due to the shape or symmetry of their face, or even trying to hide a perceived imperfection. Don’t be embarrassed to tell your photographer this, I will work with you to get the best results.

Everyone, in fact, has one eye bigger than the other. By turning your body and head to a 45º angle, placing your bigger eye furthest away will help even out the size difference. It’s not always easy to tell when looking at yourself or someone else, so for most of my clients, I shoot both angles so that clients can choose later on.

Tip #5. Look in a mirror

Rehearse your facial expressions. Everyone prefers the way they look with a certain expression. A full or half smile could work well for a young and passionate entrepreneur. Alternatively, a CEO or a board member in a professional industry may feel that a neutral expression communicates strength.

When posing, try squinting your eyes very slightly. Some photographers call it a ‘squinch’. This can help you remember it on the day. A mix between a squint and a pinch. When someone feels uncomfortable having their photo taken they can react with unnaturally wide eyes. Think of a deer in headlights, that’s what we’re trying to avoid. Below is a video “It’s all about the squinch” by Peter Hurley, check it out.

Don’t be afraid to try different poses, and smile. There’s no harm in trying a few different expressions with the photographer so you can choose which you prefer afterward.

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Bonus Tip #6 . Relax

Relax and let the photographer lead the conversation. Most people feel at least a little awkward having their photo taken. A true professional portrait photographer will talk to you and build rapport to ensure that you’re relaxed so they can capture you at your best.

I hope these tips help you when posing for headshots. If you liked the article please share it with a friend or colleague.