How to Look Photogenic in a Headshot

If you dread getting in front of the camera, you are in good company. Most people don’t feel all that comfortable in front of the camera. Even myself, someone who has been around cameras and coached people in front of my camera since 2010; I still get uncomfortable when the camera is turned on me.

Here are some tips on how to feel more photogenic when getting your headshot taken.

1. Angle Your Body Slightly

It may feel more natural to face straight on toward the camera, but that’s usually not the best angle. That produces a flat image, lacking depth, and it’ll be the widest angle of your face. We don’t want that.

Angle your body slightly away from the camera (30-45 degrees for the math geeks like myself) while keeping your face turned closer towards it. This technique can create a more dynamic and flattering composition, emphasizing your features while minimizing the appearance of width.

Try to keep the angle of your face just slight enough that you’re not straight on to the camera, but not so much that the tip of your nose crosses your cheek.

2. Maintain Good Posture

Stand or sit up straight with your shoulders relaxed and your spine elongated. (No slouching) Good posture not only makes you appear taller and more confident but also helps define your jawline and prevents the appearance of a double chin. Ain’t nobody want that.

A little bonus trick for good naturally looking posture, because let’s be honest, sometimes when you straighten your back and roll your shoulders back you look stiff as hell. Someone had to say it. It’s ok, I do too.

The trick is to shrug your shoulders up, life them up toward your ears like a 4 year old who was just asked who got into the chocolate chips. “I dunno???” Then release your shoulders and from the shrug and they will fall in a more natural posture.

Judge headshot black background

3. Engage Your Jawline

To define your jawline and avoid a double chin (remember that guy?), elongate your neck slightly by pushing your chin toward the camera and then slightly down. Slightly! We’re not trying to look like Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT. Unless you are. No judgement here.

By pushing your chin forward it helps create a more sculpted and flattering look. Practice this in front of a mirror to find your best angle. Some people also find good results by pushing your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

That will engage your neck and throat muscles. Just be careful not to overdo it because your neck can quickly go to a pro wrestler status.

Corporate headshot jawline trick

4. Experiment with Hand Placement

Try to avoid letting your arms hang limply at your sides, as this can make you appear stiff or awkward. Queue the scene with Ricky Bobby “I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

Instead, experiment with different hand placements to add interest and balance to your pose. You can try placing one hand on your hip, lightly touching your face, interlocking your fingers in front of you, or crossing your arms.

Just keep in mind what your shoulders are doing, you don’t have to pull them around in front or cause your shirt/blouse to wrinkle too much, as that can distract from your beaming smile.

photogenic headshot tips

5. Smile like You’re Friends

Speaking of that beaming smile, a great way to make sure that your smile looks like you and is also photogenic in your headshot is to laugh. Not out loud or anything, maybe a chuckle. Chuckling helps me.

But think of something funny, or a friend who makes you laugh, or that line from the last Rom-Com you watched that had you in tears and slapping your knee. (Do we still slap knees these days?)

When you’re thinking of pleasant of funny things it does a couple things. 1, it takes you mind off of what you’re doing. All the “is this is natural smile?”, “how does my hair look?”, “did I really get rid of that double chin?” and it allows you to be more natural.

Secondly, it brings out your real smile. Not the forced one, not the 1,2,3, say cheese type smile, but yours. The one that looks like you and the one that will make your headshot feel like you.

photogenic headshot tips. man in cowboyhat

6. Bonus Tip: Wear Comfortable Clothing

Select outfits that make you feel confident and comfortable. That second part is so important! Comfortable clothes. Avoid clothes that are too tight or restrictive, because they may make you feel self-conscious. Take this from someone who tried to pull off size 32″ jeans when I was well into 36″ territory.

Opt for colors and styles that flatter you and make you feel good about yourself. Pick something in your color season palette and rock it!

podcaster headshot

By following these tips and focusing on feeling comfortable and confident, you can ensure that your headshot photo session is a success!

Remember, the key to flattering posing is to find what works best for your unique features and personality. Communicate with your photographer, try different poses, and don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the ones that make you look and feel your best.

headshot by Studiopod

headshot by Studio Pod

Something new in the headshot world that I’m super excited about is Studio Pod. They’re based out of Houston, TX and its a really cool mobile booth with custom lighting scenarios to make your headshot look the absolute best.

I haven’t personally tried it yet, but a friend of mine (Joseph West) is one of the co-founders and I’m so excited for how this will make taking a professional headshots so much easier.

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