How to Pose for a Professional Headshot


Get the right look and pose for your professional portrait. We hope that these tips on how to pose for a professional headshot will answer some of your questions and concerns.

Be Yourself

“How to pose for a professional headshot “ may seem daunting, just at the thought of it.  Our goal is to eliminate some of those pre-photo jitters. The most important priority is to relax and be yourself. Below are some helpful tips to hopefully take the edge off and help you feel more prepared. No worries, if you are not feeling prepared, your professional photographer will immediately put you at ease and guide you every step of the way to pose for a great professional headshot.  After all, a great photographer is in the business of people and capturing their BEST self.

The Basics

Relax. Inhale and exhale. Repeat.

Sound too simple? There is nothing more effective than breathing to help you relax on the day of your professional photoshoot.  Try some yoga or light stretching before your photoshoot to get yourself into the right frame of mind.


Good posture is key. Sitting up straight, (no slouching) is basic but so fundamental to achieving a great professional headshot. Good posture exudes power and confidence.

Facial Expressions

Smile. You may want to practice a variety of smiles before coming in to pose for your professional headshot. Try a big smile, a three-quarter smile, a half-smile, and a closed-mouth smile, especially if you are sensitive to the appearance of your teeth. The goal of this practice is for you to see (and feel) which smile looks most authentic on you. Try practicing in the mirror, or using your phone camera. Other things to be mindful of are things like too much squinting around the eyes or too much wrinkling of the nose and /or of the forehead.

Eyes. Your eyes tell it all as they are considered the “window to your soul.”  Piercing, incisive eye contact into the camera is considered powerful nonverbal communication.  It is important to engage with your eyes as they are one of your best tools.

Chin awareness. More than likely, at some point during your professional photo shoot, you will be asked to drop your chin, to avoid the “double-chin” look (even if you do not have one). As a good reminder, pretend you have a small grapefruit under your chin to keep space between your chin and neck.

Your BEST Side

Do you have a best side? Next time you look at the photos of famous models, often times you will notice that their shots are always taken of the same side, their best side.  This could be due to some feature of their face that they don’t like or are just self-conscious about. Conversely, they may have a favorite feature that is more noticeable on one side of their face,  either way I encourage you to be completely honest with your photographer and tell them which is your best side before you begin to pose for your professional headshot.


  1. Leaning ever-so-slightly can make a big difference in posing for a professional headshot.  You will hear this often —“leaning forward” has a slimming effect on camera. It can help to give a more natural look to your professional pose, it can soften the pose, or even create a subtle casualness, if appropriate. It can be done with a crossed arms pose—sitting or standing—or even a simple lean against a wall, etc. Your photographer will guide you to what is best for the feel in the professional shot you are both trying to capture.
  2. Crossed arms pose may sound traditional and even slightly dated. You are correct in that it is not a new pose, however,  there are many variations of crossed arms to modernize the pose. For example, a simple change of location, adding a “lean,” can change the traditional pose. Or adding a slight tilt to a hip, drop a shoulder or loosening up the crossed arm are ways to soften up the traditional crossed arms pose.
  3. Sitting Pose.  Often times, for a sitting pose, you will have your hands loosely laying over your knees while still keeping your posture upright (very important)! This gives the subject something to do with their hands. Where you sit, what you sit on may change to add interest and a variety of different looks.
  4. Walking might sound a bit strange for a “pose” but walking provides a couple of added benefits versus sitting or standing in one place.  Walking towards the camera while carrying on a casual chat with the photographer can help facilitate bringing out your natural self more readily; more relaxed; hence, creating a deeper connection into the lens. Once again, don’t forget to be mindful of your posture, chest up, shoulders back while you are walking. Always important!
  5. Free Rein (not Reign).  Business folks,  especially entrepreneurs who are trying to embody their company’s product line, personality, etc., listen up.  Modern photography wants to capture you in action and this is the opportunity to be given free rein to truly express yourself and tell your story in front of the camera.  You may want to take a shot holding a product.  If you are a trainer, let’s capture you in action. In other words, detailed instructions of how to pose for a professional headshot is not as important as being yourself and in your element.

Take a look here to view some excellent examples of professional headshots, featuring what they looked like before and after they were professionally captured. What a difference a professional photographer can make in bringing out your best features! Courtesy of

We hope that these tips on how to pose for a professional headshot have helped answer some of your questions and concerns. If you have any questions or thoughts to share after reading this article, please join the others and comment below. We are always delighted to hear from our followers. Cheers!

If you’d like to take look at what we can do for you… check out some of our work here. Better yet, if you’d like to begin a conversation on how we can help you look your best, get in touch with us at or call 720-722-4127.