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Six Tips For a Great Headshot

SRK Headshot Day
Mojdeh Bowers with great hair, makeup, wardrobe, smile and jewelry. She took the six tips for a great headshot.

Your headshot is your signature in these days of social media and online marketing. As a headshot photographer, I want everyone to look their best. So even if I am not there to coach you in your headshot, here are six tips for a great headshot.

Plan Ahead for Your Headshot Session

Figure out what you are going to wear and bring some options for the photographer. Find out what background you are being photographed on and ask for recommendations. Have your hair looking great. Woman with longer hair might want to consider a blow-dry appointment the morning of their session. Men should not get their hair cut sooner than four days ahead of the photoshoot. We have tips for both men’s attire and women’s attire on our blog.

Aaron Gershenberg with a great smile and even better hair for his headshot.

Makeup is a Must for a Great Headshot

If possible, choose a photographer with a makeup artist. If not, hire a makeup artist yourself. Discuss makeup with the artist before the session begins, so they know how you want to look. Makeup really helps reduce the amount of retouching required and paradoxically can result in a more natural looking photo. Also, having your makeup done before the session can really help you relax and put you in the right frame of mind for the photo session. Men should consider makeup as well to even out the skin color and reduce shine.

David Rainwater looking great after a little makeup to reduce shine.

Make Like a Turtle for a Great Jawline

People always laugh when I say, “I want you to do this thing I call the turtle.” I follow that up with, “It feels a little weird, but it looks great.” And it does. To do the turtle, you move your head toward the camera without moving your shoulders. Picture a turtle’s head coming out of its shell and the shell not moving. The turtle maneuver accomplishes several things. It eliminates a double-chin when you smile. You assume more of a listening posture, appearing more engaged. Your head appears slightly larger in proportion to your body. (People like this. Ever see a movie star with a small head?) Don’t overdo it. You don’t want to look like you are straining toward the camera.

Turn One Shoulder to the Camera

You aren’t being booked for a crime. Turn one shoulder a little closer to the camera to keep the photo from looking like a mugshot. This is a less confrontational posture and looks more relaxed. Move your feet so you aren’t twisting your body. Make sure you are photographed from both sides. Decide if you like the right or left better. (Hopefully, your photographer is using a computer nearby for you to review the photos in real time.) Don’t be afraid to look across your body in the direction of the forward shoulder. This can give you a very powerful look.

Erik Haghjoo with a genuine smile.

Force an Audible Hah-Hah for a Genuine Smile

Laugh to yourself audibly. A hearty “hah-hah” moves your shoulders. It forces your smile to be more symmetrical. I find a lot of folks, particularly men, grudgingly smile for the camera. This results in one side of their mouth opening more than the other. This comes off as a smirk. An audible hah-hah, opens the mouth more evenly. After the hah-hah, get a few more photos to let yourself settle into a natural smile.

State Farm Agent Nichole Castech changes up her posture for a commanding presence.

Change Your Posture During Your Headshot Session

I have people stand for headshots if possible. They move better. Clothes hang better. Also, they can move and change their posture. After a few shots, try some with your hands on your hips for a confident look. Next, fold your arms and lean toward the camera and act like you are telling a secret. Look away and then back at the camera with a smile. This can make the shot feel more in-the-moment. I like all the shots to look slightly different so my clients have a choice when they get their proofs. Changing your posture helps with this.

Of course, a great headshot photographer will coach you on all these things. We highly recommend you go with a professional photographer for your headshot. And we think we are the best at it. If you would like to schedule a headshot for you or your company, check out our website at SRKHeadshotDay.com.

Cynthia Speers planned her wardrobe well with the striking solid red dress and great jewelry.

Get inspired by more great portraits and editorial photography on our portfolio website.


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