Tips for Posing for a Professional Headshot

In today’s world, a professional headshot is more than just a photo. It’s like a first impression or a digital handshake. Whether you’re an actor, a business professional, or a freelancer, knowing how to pose for headshots is important. Here are some easy tips to help you get the best professional headshot.


Find Your Best Angles for Your Headshot

Everyone has angles that look best in photos. To find yours, you need to experiment and look at your photos carefully. Don’t worry too much about features you don’t like because others probably won’t notice them as much. Focus on showing your best features instead of hiding what you don’t like. Everyone has good angles, and learning to use them will help you get a great professional headshot.


Know Your Audience for Your Headshot

Think about what you will use your professional headshot for. Different jobs need different styles of headshots. For example, an actor’s headshot will look different from that of a real estate agent, a lawyer, or a corporate professional. Search for headshots in your field and pick a few you like. Show these to your photographer so they know what style you want. Remember, these are just ideas to guide you; you don’t have to copy them exactly.


Relaxation is Key for a Great Headshot

Getting your photo taken can be stressful. Even top models need to learn how to relax in front of the camera. If you’re too tense or self-conscious, it will show in your pictures. Make sure your whole body is relaxed, even if it’s not in the photo. Tension in your body will show on your face. Sit or stand in a comfortable position and focus on staying relaxed. Relax your jaw and mouth: tension there can make your smile look fake. Keep your mouth relaxed for a more natural and friendly expression. A simple trick is to exhale when the photo is taken. You might not notice it, but your breathing can get tense when you’re nervous. Please take a deep breath and let it out regularly to stay relaxed. Breathing freely is the easiest way to keep calm.

Great Headshots Are All About the Eyes

Your eyes are the most important part of a professional headshot. A great headshot captures attention with eye contact that draws the viewer into the personality of the person in the photo. Use your eyes to show who you are and what you want to convey. Whether it’s a sharp look, a soft gaze, a playful sparkle, or deep thought, all these expressions can make a beautiful headshot. Decide what emotion you want to show and use your eyes to express it.

Once you understand your best angles, try different expressions with your eyes while keeping your face in the same position. This can create a variety of looks within similarly framed photos. Even small changes matter – our eyes are very expressive, and people naturally focus on them. Use this to your advantage by thinking about what your eyes are doing in the shot.


Know When to Look at the Camera

This tip combines using your eyes and staying relaxed: look away from the camera and then look directly at it right when the photo is taken. Imagine someone you like just walked into the room, and you look up to greet them. This keeps you from trying to maintain stiff, unnatural eye contact with the camera. Holding full eye contact for too long looks unnatural and can make your eyes appear too intense or empty – neither is good for a professional headshot.


Use Your Whole Body, Even for a Headshot

This idea helps you stay relaxed and comfortable. Think about your whole body, even when you’re just taking a headshot. Sit or stand in a way that feels natural, like you do every day. Imagine you’re sitting with a friend at a cafe or waiting in line and checking your posture. Don’t try to copy someone else’s pose. Position your body in a way that feels best for you.

Pay attention to your neck. For men, a strong neck looks confident. To show it, tilt your head back and push your neck forward. For women, a “swan neck” looks great. Roll your shoulders back, keep your neck straight and neutral, and move your chin forward until you feel a stretch. Use your hips by shifting your weight from one leg to the other, keeping a “Z” shape. Even if only your upper body is in the photo, the position of your legs can give you confidence and good angles.


Capture Moments of Movement in a Headshot

Photos look more natural when they capture moments of movement. Think of posing as short pauses in continuous movement, not stiff positions. Move slowly and make small adjustments. Change the angle of your shoulder, chin, or head, but do it more slowly than you think. Your photographer will help you find what looks best.

Play with your hair, and use your hands to lightly touch your shoulders, neck, or face. These movements don’t have to look posed; they are just natural actions you would do with your hands. If your hands are in the frame, keep them soft and relaxed. Tension in your hands can show up on camera. Before the shot, make fists and open them ten times to relax your fingers. You can also shake your hands to keep them fresh. When folding your hands, watch the pinkie finger side – it can look wrinkled. Slightly relax your hands to fix this.


Makeup for Headshots

Makeup looks different in photos than it does in real life. The same goes for bare faces. Photos make your features look flatter because they’re two-dimensional. So, if some of your features are already flat, you should add depth to them with makeup. If some of your features are sharp, you should soften them. Lighting also matters a lot. Find out if your photographer will use bright lights or more shadows. Usually, shadows look better on flat faces, and bright lighting looks better on faces with more depth. Both can look great in a headshot if done correctly. Since the photo is two-dimensional, use contour makeup to add depth to your features. Contour your cheekbones, jawline, nose, and forehead to keep your face’s natural shape in the photo. Make sure the contour looks smooth and natural, not too dramatic. For colors, use neutral and natural tones that match your skin tone and eye color. A natural makeup look is the best for headshots because it looks versatile and professional. If you’re not good at makeup or unsure how to do it, look up makeup tutorials for photoshoots. Photographers often know good makeup artists for headshots, so ask for recommendations.


Genuine Expression

The best thing in a headshot is a genuine expression. This can be hard because we know getting our photo taken is not natural. People often try too hard to get the perfect pose and look. It’s hard to keep a natural smile or expression for more than a few seconds, and forcing it will look fake. If you feel like you’re overthinking it and can’t get a real expression, take a break and try again. Sometimes, you just need to relax for a few minutes before trying again. Find a photographer who specializes in headshots and makes you feel comfortable. A good photographer will help you relax and look your best. You can practice posing and making expressions on your own, but a good photographer will make it easier to look genuine. Taking a professional headshot can be stressful, but with these tips, you’ll be ready to capture a great and real image. Remember to relax, find your best angles, and talk with your photographer to make sure your headshot shows the real you.



To get a great professional headshot, you need to know yourself, stay relaxed, and communicate well. Find your best angles, know who will see your photo, and stay calm to show your true self. Focus on making your eyes expressive, move your body a little, and use makeup to highlight your features. Most importantly, show a real expression that reflects your personality. Working with a good photographer who makes you feel comfortable can really help. With these tips, you’ll be ready to take a headshot that leaves a good impression.


If you need top-notch service, contact Zen Studios LA now!

Kieanne James Paco

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