9 Ways to Pose for Professional Headshots

Ivan Martinez
Corporate photographer with expertise in business headshots, events, commercial, and construction photography.
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If you want to look professional in your next photo session, you have already taken the first step: wanting to know more about how to pose. Posing for photos requires a lot of practice, but also patience and confidence in the process.

Taking selfies is not the same as taking photos in a professional session. This requires more time, effort and dedication. To make your journey much easier, I want to give you some tips to improve your portrait poses. Are you ready?

9 Tips on to How to Pose for a Professional Headshot

Posture is important during a photo session because it influences the final result. There are certain postures or body expressions that allow us to transmit sensations to others. If you learn to use one or several postures that adapt to your personality, you will be able to transmit your personal brand or your business.

Here I share 9 fabulous tips for posing for a professional portrait. Take note and get ready for your professional headshots!

1. Relax All Your Body  

If you want to look amazing in your headshot session, it's important to relax. The camera can capture the tension of your body and your face. I recommend that you relax your whole body and make sure you are in a comfortable position. An excellent trick is to take a deep breath when you are taking the shot. Breathing is the easiest way to stabilize and relax, check your inhalation and exhalation constantly.

2. Choose Your Best Angle

I recommend that you get acquainted with your best angles. It is not about copying how other people pose, the important thing is that you know your good postures and angles well. All people have their angles. To achieve this, you must objectively rehearse and judge the photos you take. It's easy to become obsessed with certain new body features that you don't like, for example, the double chin. But perhaps this is not the trait that another person would see. It is much more important to emphasize your best features.

3. Posture Is Key

If you want to look confident in your photos, remember to maintain a good posture: back straight and shoulders back. There’s no need to overdo it, otherwise you can look stiff—which can make you seem rigid and tense. A good posture will help you look professional and confident in your portrait photos.

4. The Eyes Are Everything

Your eyes are the focal point of your professional portrait. If you want to get a photo people can't look away from, you need to use eye contact to draw the viewer in. Your eyes can show who you are in your headshot. A piercing gaze or a soft gaze can work for a portrait, it all depends on your personality and what you want to show in front of the camera.

5. Your Whole Body, Use It

You can use your whole body to achieve your best headshot. This tip will help you stay relaxed and comfortable. When you make your poses, try to make them look familiar to you, do not try to copy a pose from another person. Remember that the photos must reflect your personality, so you must look authentic.

6. Avoid “Straight to Camera”

A great trick is to combine the two previous principles: look away from the camera and then back at it when your business headshot is taken. A tip for pulling this off like a pro is to imagine that someone you like has walked into the room and you look up to greet them. This way you avoid a rigid and unnatural look. 

Holding eye contact for too long looks unnatural and can hurt your professional headshot. You can look away between takes or keep a soft gaze.

7. Practice Your Moves

This is another one of my great tips for you: practice your moves and facial expressions! Good professional photos are those that manage to capture the model in a natural way, and that includes movement. 

Try to pose with short pauses, but with a continuous flow. The key is to move slowly. You can move your shoulder, tilt your head, turn your eyes, etc. You can use your hands and touch your hair. Take into account what your professional photographer tells you, they can give you indications that make you feel comfortable.

8. Be Natural and Have Fun

Photo sessions are to be enjoyed! If you want to smile, smile. Holding a smile can make you feel uncomfortable, and we don't want that. This feeling can be transferred to photos. Smiling for one or two seconds is enough: a good photographer will be able to capture the moment and move on. It can also help to think of something that makes you happy: food, puppies, your family, etc. 

9. Know Your Audience: “Who am I trying to reach?”

It is important to know what you’re going to use your professional portrait for. For example, there are differences between doctor headshots and CEO headshots. Find examples of headshots you like and save them for reference. You can share these photos with your photographer so he knows what you are looking for.

Types of Headshot Poses

To make professional portraits look natural and authentic, I always want the client to feel comfortable in the photo session and I try to make it an enjoyable moment.

Not all poses work for every personality, so it is necessary to evaluate in advance which one best suits your style. For this reason, I recommend that you discuss a couple of different ideas with your headshot photographer and evaluate the results after each shot.

Let’s look at some of the types of headshot poses you can practice.

  1. The Common: Also known as the standard headshot photo. If you want to try this pose you should straighten your back, turn your chest and lean slightly towards the camera. It is a nice choice for a business portrait.
  2. Crossed Arms: If you want to convey a little more confidence, you can cross your arms to create a feeling of power. Remember to smile, this way you can balance the impression of the crossed arms.
  3. Hands on Hips: This is a much more fun pose: place the hands on the hip. The viewer can feel closer to you and trust what you do. This photo can also look good on your LinkedIn profile.
  4. Close-up Over the Shoulder: This pose is fun and sincere. It gives the photo a more natural feeling. This style is ideal for professionals who want a more charismatic image.
  5. Sideways: This is a similar idea to the previous one, but you have to lean to the side against a wall. The body language of this pose gives the viewer the feeling that you are an honest person. If you like this idea, ask your photographer to make sure the wall is clean and lit.
  6. Lean In: This is another one of my great posing tips. You can lean towards the camera while sitting. This will allow you to be more relaxed and, if you wish, hide a double chin.
  7. Poses with Accessories: you can use your work tools as accessories in your photos. For example, ask your portrait photographer for a couple of shots with your glasses.

Remember that everything you see in your portrait says something about you: your look, your posture, your smile, your clothes, etc. Use all these tools in your favor and delight your future clients.

You can enhance your photos by showing your charisma. Let yourself be guided by the photographer and enjoy the process. Be authentic, you have it all!

There are many fabulous ideas that can help you with your professional portraits. Remember that the most important thing is to enjoy the process, have good communication with your photographer, and take the necessary breaks. Good luck!

Want to get a perfect business headshot? My name is Ivan Martinez and I have over 36 years of experience in the field. Let's schedule and work together.

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Stand Out with a Headshot That Truly Represents You.
As a professional headshot photographer, I’ll make sure to reflect the best version of you.