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Master the Go-To Expression

SRK Headshot Day

Tech CEO Sonya Dreizler has mastered the Go-To expression with this confident smile.

The first thing 80% of my headshot customers say to me is “I never look good in photos.” Like any other skill, this takes work to master. Finding your Go-To expression is important if you are an executive, public figure or if you just don’t like how you look in photos. With the smart phone and social media so prevalent, we are constantly being photographed. Every event has a photographer. Those photos are posted, we are tagged and everyone we know sees us. Some photos show up high on google search results, even if we don’t look our best. Having a Go-To expression is the best way to guarantee you look good.

A Go-To expression guarantees you can instantly strike a predetermined pose where you look your best. At SRK Headshot Day our 30-minute coached headshot session is all about finding that Go-To expression. There are several steps to finding and mastering your Go-To. If you can’t come in for a session, here are some steps to do it on your own.

Find a Recent Photo of You That You Like

Find a photo where you look great. It is best to pick a professional shot, because you would have posed for this. Focus on the expression and not the lighting. (You can’t control the light in most photos.) Also, find a shot that was taken at eye level. I know everyone thinks that those selfies from above look fetching, but you can’t count on every photo of you being taken from a high point of view. Don’t pick a photo with a weird face angle like a side profile or one where you are looking away from the camera. Find one where you are looking into the camera.


Now, what do you want the photo to say about you? The expression is everything. Does a gentle smile communicate your personality? Are you in a serious industry? Should you go for the always popular smize? (The Smize is that look where are you are smiling with your eyes but your mouth is closed. See more on my post about the smize.) More importantly, what expression looks like you and your usual demeanor. Pick an expression that is comfortable for you to replicate.

Attorney Bill Metke smizes for his Go-To expression.

Practice on Your Own

Print out the photo or load it on your smartphone or tablet. Now go to a mirror. Look at the photo and then duplicate the expression in the mirror. This may feel stupid. But isn’t it better to feel stupid than to look stupid? Put down the photo. Look away from the mirror. Now look into the mirror and get that expression right. Check it against the photo. Get used to doing this. Pay attention to the head angle. Which side of the face is closer to the camera. (Although you face should not be turned too much to one side.) How much were your eyes open in the photo you liked? Maybe a slight squint is in order. Don’t get fancy. Keep you hands away from your face. Make sure you move your head toward the mirror (camera) like a turtle coming out of its shell. This can help eliminate double chins when you smile. See my article about how to pose for headshot.

Practice with a Friend

Once you can duplicate the look on your own, get someone to take a photo of you. Pretend it is like an impromptu photo. Have them count to three or have them say “smile”. After they have taken a few photos, look them over and see how they look. Have your friend send the photos to you and review them against the photo you had picked as your model. Make any changes and practice until you have nailed it.


Now use your Go-To in the real world. After you have seen a few photos, judge how you like your look. Make adjustments and practice them. Soon, you will have a Go-To expression. Now you can be the one where everyone says, “You always look so good in photos.” instead of being the one who says “I always look so bad in photos.”

If you need a good headshot and some coaching to find your Go-To expression, make an appointment at SRK Headshot Day. We will get you there in only 30 minutes.

Alden Miller, Interior Designer, exudes professionalism with this Go-To expression.

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