How to Pose for Headshots Tips from Professional Photographers


For a successful headshot, preparation is essential. Take a few moments before the appointment to consider the message you want to convey with your headshot, the clothes you should wear, the makeup needed, and any poses to attempt!

Additionally, research the photographer and their portfolio, so you can ensure their style is suitable for your vision. With the correct preparation, you can create a remarkable headshot that will make a lasting first impression.

Choose the right outfit

When prepping for headshots, pick clothing that suits your body type. Soft, neutral hues attract eyes to the face. Avoid patterns and bright shades. Bring several options so you can adjust.

Fabric matters too. Avoid linen and wrinkled materials. Layer dark-colored clothes with light items for contrast. Experiment with texture – a satin blouse and denim jacket, or wool trousers and crisp cotton shirt. Accessories can add character, but keep it simple. Don’t compete with the face!

Get your hair and makeup done

Before the camera even clicks, get ready with hair and makeup. Basic grooming is okay, but professional help can make your headshots stand out. Choose a hairstyle that reflects who you are and the message you want to send. Bring styling products to keep it looking good while posing.

Makeup should be natural and highlight your features. Makeup artists will help apply foundation, blush, conceal discoloration, define eyes, and plump up lips for flattering results.

Practice your poses

Headshots can be intimidating for photographers. It needs a different skillset and set of tools than other kinds of photography. Photographers must capture an original shot without crowding the frame or making the person look stiff.

Practice poses first. Stand with feet apart. Relax your shoulders. Lift your chin. Keep eyes level with the camera lens. Might feel weird at first. Take practice shots on phones or systems before the photoshoot.

Maintain a pleasant expression. A slight eyebrow raise or subtle expression can change the shot. If you’re having difficulty, smile, laugh or take breaks between shots. Genuine expressions will show through photos.

Tilt your head slightly left or right to create energy and avoid straight-on shots.


It’s essential to get the lighting right when it comes to headshots. Pros take lots of time to ensure the lighting is spot-on. That way, the photos show you at your best.

There are many lighting techniques you should think about when getting headshots. We’ll look into those now.

Use natural light

Take advantage of natural light for headshots! Preferably early or late in the day. Natural light can be quite harsh. To soften it, use a white reflector card on the opposite side.

If shooting outdoors midday, look for shade or covered areas. This will create more shadow and contrast.

When indoors or on cloudy days, open all curtains and blinds to get as much natural light as possible. Try to find windows that let in bright daylight.

Choose the right background

When selecting a background for your headshot, it’s just as essential as the expression and pose. A plain, solid-colored background is often the best choice to make sure you stand out. Refrain from anything with patterns or textures. White backgrounds look professional. But be careful not to make it too bright, or it may wash out your features or make reflections in glasses.

Even though brick walls seem interesting, they will take away from the shot. Pick a background that allows you to stand out, yet doesn’t clash with your outfit or compete with the photo’s overall effect.

Adjust the lighting for the best results

Lighting is key for good photos. It makes the difference between good and outstanding pictures. Adjust your lighting for the best results.

Two types: natural and artificial. Natural is great for outdoors and windows. Artificial is best for studio photography. Move around to find the optimal angle for both natural and artificial light.

For headshots, use an overhead light with a diffuser, like an umbrella or soft box, when onsite or artificial lighting when in studio. This keeps shadows from darkening faces and prevents them from being washed out.

Check the color temperature isn’t too warm or cool. Try monochrome filters for extra contrast and dimension. Experiment with moving lights until you get the desired result!


Headshots can be intimidating to pose for! Pro photogs know the key’s in the pose. It’s not just about looks, but feeling good too.

Let’s explore types of poses for headshots and how to do them for the most flattering results.

Try different angles

When it comes to headshots, changing the angle can make a big difference. The 45-degree angle often works best. It hides any facial features you feel self-conscious about.

Take photos while standing and facing slightly away from the camera. This will show different sides of your face. Try different head tilts and work with the angles of your jawline. When seated, lean forward and rotate away from the camera for fresh perspectives. Have fun!

Use props to add interest

Props can liven up headshots! Depending on the style you like, props can be natural or quirky. For example, a nearby tree or a Pringles tube!

Balance foreground and background for a 3D photo. Accessories like hats and glasses can add some flair. Try taking off your glasses for a subtle difference. Match hats to hairstyles, like fedoras and heels or baseball caps and ponytails!

Accessories like flowers or jewelry can add color and texture without taking away focus from you.

Experiment with different facial expressions

Experimenting with facial expressions is key when taking headshots. Photographers suggest trying enthusiasm, seriousness and engagement. Before the photoshoot, practice poses in the mirror or with friends to get ready.

To find your best looks, change up your poses and pay attention to how your facial features move when you smile or look serious. With these tips from professionals, you can have a blast creating an impressive portfolio of headshots!


Once your headshot session is over, take a moment to assess. Professional photographers often request their clients look over the shots taken and pick out their top ones.

As you review, think about which poses are best and show your brand. Choose wisely when selecting headshots for professional reasons.

Review your photos

Once you’ve taken your photos, it’s time to review them! Ask yourself:

– Do the poses look good?
– Am I happy with my expressions?
– Are my features looking nice?
– Do I need to change anything for the next shoot?

If you’re not pleased with what you see, it might be useful to get a professional photographer. Try different angles, clothes, backgrounds and props – they can make a huge difference! Listen to constructive criticism, both from yourself and other people. This way, your headshots will be the best they can be!

Select the best ones

Time to select the best shots from your headshot session! The pic should show off you, so pick ones that make you look great. Photogs have their own criteria, but here are some tips:

Look for shots with eye contact, expressions, posture and angles that flatter you.

Choose color or black-and-white to set the right atmosphere.

Check the lighting in each shot. Hair should not hide any of your features.

Pick 3-5 looks. Formal suits or dressy casual wear.

Backgrounds should not be too busy – they should not distract from your face.

Retouch them if necessary

Photographers often ask you to pick some headshots for them to retouch. This is a standard practice and the best way to get the desired outcome.

Retouching may include: adding lighting, getting rid of stray hairs, smoothing wrinkles, and adjusting the color balance. It can make a huge difference!

Always keep a copy of the original, untouched headshot. Checking it will ensure that any changes are true to the original photograph.

Some companies offer to print the headshots on high-end photo paper. These prints have a more luxurious look and feel, but they cost more. Consider this extra expense when getting retouches done by professional graphic artists.

Tips from Professional Photographers

Professional headshots are an advantage. They can make you shine compared to the competition and create a great impression with employers and customers.

Posing for headshots may be intimidating, so it’s essential to get it right. Fortunately, pro photographers have ideas to help you show your best self. Let’s learn what they say!

Be yourself

When posing for headshots, remember the camera captures the real you. So, be confident and show your personality! Don’t try unnatural poses or expressions. Instead, stay relaxed and smile genuinely. Professional photographers recommend taking deep breaths before each session. This helps you exude authentic confidence.

Also, practice in front of a mirror beforehand. This gives you a chance to experiment with different angles and postures. Pay attention to how clothes fit in various poses. It can affect how confident you feel during the shoot. With practice, you’ll pick up what works best for your individual look.

Be open-minded during the photoshoot. Professional photographers may have creative ideas they want to try out. If possible, give those ideas a try. Unexpected shots can turn out to be portfolio standouts!

Relax and have fun

Relax and have a good time during your headshot session! Professional photographers have seen it all, so don’t worry if you feel awkward. A cheerful attitude will make you feel better and keep your energy up for a long time, which can help you get better photos.

Remember that the photographer is there to capture your personality and show who you are. Work together with them and welcome their ideas. They know how to take great pictures – trust them!

A tip from pros: Don’t plan too much before the session. Don’t decide poses or looks beforehand. This can limit your options during the session. Let ideas come naturally during the session instead, so you get natural shots that show your true self.

Make your photoshoot an opportunity to express yourself. Have fun and stay authentic!

Take your time

Posing for a headshot isn’t a cinch. To get it done right, you need more than a casual snap. Pros say to take your time – that’s the way to make sure you get great shots.

Start with the basics, get comfy, then move on. Have your photographer guide you through each pose. This way, even the simplest poses will be powerful and you’ll get headshots that really show who you are – no generic catalog looks!

The Dos and Don’ts of Headshot Makeup for Women and Men | St Louis Professional Headshots

Wanna make a big impression with your professional headshot? Makeup’s the key!

Learn the do’s and don’ts for guys and gals. Look your best!

Don’t over-powder. Too much causes flash back and disrupts light.


Headshots are essential for your professional persona, so you should look your best! Taking a few extra minutes to apply the right make-up is important. Men and women have different needs to consider. Here’s what you must and must not do for headshots.

Remember: Subtlety is key for both males and females. You want to look natural, yet polished. Heavy make-up will distract from the image you wish to project. Products that minimize shine are important too – especially if you have oily or combination skin.

Bring your make-up to the shoot session. This will help match it with other elements, like wardrobe or backdrop. Doing this will help everyone to know what look you want to achieve.

What is a Headshot?

A headshot is a portrait that focuses on the face. It’s used to promote actors, models, and business people. It’s the first impression potential employers have of you. So, it’s important that your headshots show your personality and style. Here are some tips on how to apply makeup for headshots. For men and women alike:

Do: Choose makeup that complements your natural skin tone.

Don’t: Cake on the foundation.

Do: Use a matte finish.

Don’t: Over-do the contour or blush.

Do: Enhance your eyes with mascara and eyeliner.

Don’t: Go for a heavy smoky eye.

Do: Finish off with a natural lip color.

Don’t: Wear dark or glossy lipstick.

Do’s of Headshot Makeup for Women

Women should aim for a polished yet natural makeup look in their headshot. Enhance your natural beauty, not transform it! Here are some tips:

-Choose a foundation that matches your skin tone and is one shade lighter – this will make you glow in the photos.

-Eyeliner is best used on the upper lid – define the lash line and add a smoky effect. Don’t go too heavy!

-Neutral colors like taupe, grey, and brown are great for the eyes – avoid bright colors.

-Use mascara on both top and bottom lashes to create fullness.

-Choose blush or bronzer tones that are slightly lighter than normal, but not too light.

-Finally, opt for a neutral lip color with pink/berry undertones to enhance your facial features without overpowering them.

Don’ts of Headshot Makeup for Women

Headshot makeup should enhance natural features, not look overly done. A bit of mascara and lip gloss can make a difference. Here are some don’ts:

  • Don’t use too much foundation or powder. Use sheer or light coverage to reduce pores and blemishes.
  • Don’t add too much blush or bronzer. Neutral tones will bring out the complexion.
  • Don’t overdo eyeshadow and eyeliner. Use darker shades along the lash line, or an eyeliner pencil for drama. Go for softer eyeshadow tones.
  • Don’t forget the lips! Use light lip gloss for sheen and color. Avoid dark colors – they wash out on film or digital photography.

Do’s of Headshot Makeup for Men

For men applying makeup for headshots, create a natural and professional look. Here are some tips to help!

Choose lightweight, matte products. Pick colors similar to your skin tone. Avoid shimmery products. Keep it simple. And groom your brows. Subtlety is key!

Don’ts of Headshot Makeup for Men

When it comes to professional headshots, makeup for men can be tricky. Too much could reduce their credibility, so subtle techniques and product choices are best. Here’s what not to do:

-Don’t pile on foundation. If you need to use it, choose one made for men with strong coverage.

-Skin care is important. Use a moisturizer and sunscreen tailored to male skin type.

-Be careful with brows. Ensure they’re not overly long or arched. Avoid pomade or waxes.

-Don’t cake on concealer. Opt for lighter coverage products.

-Don’t forget lip color. Use a balm first and then a natural, neutral shade like light browns or pinks. No sparkles or gloss!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to headshots, keep makeup simple and natural. Too much can make you look worse than with none at all! Here are mistakes to avoid:

Blending: Blend eyeshadow, blush, and contour so there are no edges or lines.

Color palette: Use shades together that look natural. Avoid greens and blues as they can wash out your face. Pick neutral browns or warm golden tones instead.

Foundation: Use a light hand and go for sheer coverage.

False lashes: They may enhance print media but they don’t photgraph well. Stick with lighter mascaras.

Powder: Don’t over-powder. Too much causes flash back and disrupts light.


You want to appear professional in your headshot, but not too done up. Natural makeup for the occasion will help you look confident and show off your personality.

Get the most out of your photo session by following these tips on how to use makeup for headshots. Consult with a pro or practice in front of the mirror, and don’t be afraid to try different looks!

Mike Haller
4501 Mattis Road
St Louis, Missouri