a classic pose headshot of a man with  Kate Solid Grey Cloth Backdrop Portrait Photography

10 Poses for a Professional and Flattering Headshot

May 8, 2022

As personal branding, headshot photos are all about capturing the personality of the person in the photograph. It means that photographers need to have good people skills to put their subjects at ease and get natural-looking expressions.

But a lot can go wrong if the photographer isn't meticulous in their approach. Even a small mistake in a headshot can be very noticeable, so headshot photographers need to consider everything, especially how the poses the subject makes.

And if you’re looking for a professional and flattering headshot pose? Check out these 15 best pose tutorials for professional headshots! They're perfect for portrait studio photographers or experienced photographers. With a little bit of practice, you'll have clients flocking to your headshot sessions in no time!

01. The Classic Look

a classic pose photo of a man with Kate Solid Grey Cloth Backdrop Portrait Photography

 Kate Solid Grey Cloth Backdrop Portrait Photography

This is the most popular and classic of all good posture. It’s a great pose for beginners, as it’s simple yet effective.

To achieve this look, simply have your subject sit or stand facing the camera with their shoulders squared off and down without slouching. Their chin should be level, and they should be looking straight ahead into the lens with a relaxed yet engaged expression.

And depending on your facial structure and the angle of the portrait photographer's lens, you should keep your head level and don't tilt it up or down. Then relax your neck and shoulders, and tuck your chin slightly downwards to avoid a double chin.

02. The Forward Lean

a lean-forward pose photo of a smiling woman

Photo by Shawnee D on Unsplash

This is a great pose for showing off your personality and used for social media portfolios, such as Linkedin. But take into account the best angle of lean you are doing as too much will make you look awkward in the headshot.

Aim for a controlled lean to visualize further and make sure that your spine and neck are aligned. Once you have established that, you can direct your chest to puff out from your body.

On the other hand, some subjects are instructed to position their weight on one leg, which causes them to bend at the waist and lean forward. This positioning allows for a more flattering angle and helps subjects feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

For a more dynamic headshot pose, have your subject lean in towards the camera with their shoulders relaxed and chin down. They can place their hands on their hips or crossed in front of them to help anchor the pose.

03. The Three-Quarter View

aThree-Quarter View photo of a man in front of Kate Yellow Solid Photography Backdrop

Kate Yellow Solid Photography Backdrop

Also known as a broadside pose, a three-quarter view for professional photography can be a great way to add some interest and personality to your business headshot poses. It can also be a nice change of pace from the more common full-face or profile views.

This pose is excellent for showcasing your face and shoulders. Position your body so that one shoulder faces the camera while the other face is slightly away. This will create a more interesting composition and make you look less posed.

For men, keep your hair neat and tidy; for women, add a little bit of flair with a hairstyle or accessory. This is because only a portion of your face is showcased in the headshot, the hairstyle and accessories can greatly impact the overall effect of the photo session.

04. The Profile View

a profile view photo of a man on a chair

Photo by jose aljovin on Unsplash

The profile view is another great way to show off your features. It can be particularly flattering for those with smaller features or who want to minimize their nose or chin. It can also help give your headshot a more mysterious or intriguing look.

Again, aim to have one shoulder facing the camera for better symmetry and balance in this professional photo. Usually, the photographer has you tilt your chin down and to the side a bit so that your face is turned slightly away from the camera.

Pro-tip: keep your hair pulled back from your face so that your facial structure is highlighted in the shot. If you are not quite confident with the symmetry of your face, you can opt for other poses that highlight your posture, accessories, landscape, or even expression.

05. The Stand-Up Pose

a standing pose photo of a man in front of a Kate Chroma Key Blue Solid Cloth Photography Fabric Backdrop

Kate Chroma Key Blue Solid Cloth Photography Fabric Backdrop

This is a great pose for showing off your best features and conveying confidence. This pose is often used in business headshots to add authority and power to the image.

Stand-up poses are also good for people who don't want to be photographed from below or who have difficulty sitting because of an injury or disability.

The posing tip for this one is simply to simply stand up straight with your shoulders back and your chin down slightly or crossed arms. If you want to show off your curves, you can place one hand on your hip or place one foot over the other.

06. The Sitting Pose

sitting photo of a woman on a chair

Photo by SHAYAN rti on Unsplash

The sitting pose in headshot photography is to show the subject's personality and character. It’s often used as a way to highlight their strengths, like when they are sitting with their legs crossed.

This pose is perfect for a business portrait to show professionality, like real estate agent or actor headshots, to show professionality. Sit in a chair with your legs uncrossed and your feet flat on the floor. Lean forward slightly, have a deep breath, rest your elbows on your knees, and let your hands dangle. This body language will show the charm of entrepreneurs.

However, if you prefer a more stern direction, you opt for a more contemporary chair with a matching tuxedo to boot. This can help you set the atmosphere you are aiming for.

07. Dean's List Pose

a group photo of men standing in dean's list pose

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

There are many reasons why the dean's list pose is always the choice of professional photographers. It is a simple, classic and professional headshot pose that looks good on men and women alike. It's a great headshot because it showcases your face and shoulders in a clean, elegant way.

To achieve the dean's list pose, simply stand up straight with your shoulders back and your chin slightly lifted. Keep your hands at your sides or clasp them in front of you. You can look directly into the camera or slightly down, but make sure to keep your facial expression relaxed and natural.

08. The Hands-on-Sides Pose

a girl is taking photo by puting her hands in her pockets

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

If you want to look taller and slimmer overall, then you might want to check out this pose. Because it creates a bit of a triangle shape, it can help your jawline be more pronounced and noticeable. 

When positioning your hands on your sides for a headshot, you'll want to make sure they're parallel to the ground. It will help ensure that your hands don't look out of place in the photo and create a more symmetrical appearance.

Keep your fingers close together and avoid having them sticking out awkwardly. You may also place your hands on your hips or in your pockets.

09. The Lean Back Pose

a girl is taking photo by leaning one of her elbow on the wall

Photo by Candice Picard on Unsplash

Having a dramatic background can help set the mood in your headshot. However, it’s important to always consider the angle at which your subject will be photographed. A leaning subject will create a more dramatic photograph, as the angle of the body will be more visible.

When photographing a subject who is leaning against a solid surface, be sure to have them rest their weight on their forearm rather than on their hand. This will help keep them stable and prevent any accidental movement from ruining the shot.

And finally, make sure that the surface they are leaning against is clean and free of any distractions.

10. The Hepburn Grace Face

headshot of a girl in front of a Kate Abstract Texture Yellow Green and White Mixing Hand Painted Backdrop

Kate Abstract Texture Yellow Green and White Mixing Hand Painted Backdrop

Framing someone's face with their hands can also help draw attention to the eye contacts and facial expressions, which can be critical in a good headshot. This pose is prevalent in close-ups and selfies.

This type of framing can help to make the photo feel more organic and natural rather than staged or posed. The most common way to do this is to have your subject put their hands under their chin. But don’t think this is something new as Audrey Hepburn has already done it in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s with a gloved hand under her chin.


Whether you're just starting in your career or working for a while, having a professional headshot is key. With a few simple headshot tips and poses and some direction on what to wear, you can have a professional portrait to make you look your best.

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