headshot of a women in red

From Eye to Arm: 21 Headshot pose details you should know in 2022

Chances are you've been asked to take a headshot. It could be for your LinkedIn profile, social media, newsletter, or other marketing materials. Nowadays, headshots can mean anything from a photographer focusing on one person's head to casual portrait photography.

Watching someone look at you through a camera lens can be intimidating. You might feel nervous and end up doing an awkward headshot pose. To help avoid that, here are a few tips on how to pose for a good headshot.

1. Eyes

Your eyes are the windows to your soul, and a perfect headshot is an opportunity to unlock them. Also, the eyes are the most expressive part of your body, and they tell a story.

Headshot of a girl with beauful eyes

Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash

They help you make a connection with your audience and convey directness. Here are some tips to get natural and flattering eye contact in your next headshot.

1.1 Relax Your Eye Muscles

If you're feeling stressed in front of the camera, it will show through your eyes. Here are some tips on how to relax the eye muscles while posing for a headshot:

  • Open and close your eyes slowly several times to help relax the muscles surrounding them. 
  • Smile. Smiling helps to relax the eyes by forcing the cheeks up to support the eyelids. This will allow the eyes to naturally open wider with each smile.
  • Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. This will also help to relax any facial muscles that might be tense.

    2) Don't Look Directly at the Camera

    Looking directly at the camera will often feel forced and make you appear like a deer in headlights. Instead, look slightly to the side through the lens to appear more relaxed and genuine.

    headshot of a girl looking up

    Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

    You can find something off-camera that you will focus on. That could be the photographer's assistant, or it could be a spot over their shoulder.

    2. Nose

    The nose is a challenging feature to work with due to its prominent protrusion. But it is also an extremely important aspect of the face since it is the first feature that most people notice upon first glance.

    2.1 How to Place your Nose

    It can be distracting if not shot right. However, there are a few simple things you can do to get flattering and professional nose shots in your headshots:

      • The most flattering nose placement is when it points towards the camera and has a slight upward tilt at the tip. It creates a more elongated look that adds height to the face and emphasizes prominent features.
      • Make sure there is some space between your nose and the camera. The closer you are to the camera, the larger your nose will appear in the frame.
      • Additionally, don't angle your face down or up too much, as this will cause shadows under your nostrils. That could become very distracting in a headshot.

          headshot of a man looking side

          Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

          2.2 Tips for Crooked Nose

          If you have a big nose or a crooked nose, these tips will help you to get the best results.

            • The light should be on the posing side of your face, never on the other side. If it's too bright on the crooked side of your nose, it will emphasize its shape and make it look bigger.
            • You can turn your face in the opposite direction to where your nose is crooked and then angle yourself towards the camera. This allows for more interesting angles for the photo while minimizing the size or the crookedness of the nose.

              3. Chin and Jawline

              The chin is one of the main elements that determine the quality of a headshot. It's also not just a matter of making sure it's not too far forward or too far back, but about its relationship to the jawline.

              The chin should be slightly down, and the jaw relaxed. If your head is turned too far down, you risk getting a double chin and looking heavier than you are.

              If your head is tilted up too much, it can make your face look unnaturally long.

              Down and Forward Action

              headshot of a girl in black background

              Photo by Kirill Balobanov on Unsplash

              This simple pose will help you get a more flattering headshot.

              Look straight ahead and tilt the chin down slightly towards the camera. It helps to bring a little bit of definition around the jawline.

              Next, move the head forward slightly towards the lens. The forehead is going to be closer than the tip of the nose. This will create an optical illusion, making a face look slimmer and longer.

              4. Head Position

              The head position can be used to express many different emotions. Here are a few tips on how to have a proper head position:

              • Turn your head slightly to one side (but don't overdo it). It will prevent you from looking stiff while still making sure that both of your eyes are visible.
              • Try turning your face towards the light source for a more sculpted look. Don't shine it directly in your eyes because it will cause squinting and look unnatural.
              • If you have a big forehead or double chin, don't face straight ahead. Instead, turn your face away from the camera slightly by tilting your head and angling your body towards one side of the frame.

                5. Shoulders and Neck

                The shoulder plays a big role in the headshot. Shoulders are not only very expressive in general, but they can also make or break your headshot.

                If your shoulders are slumped or rounded, you look smaller and less confident. If they are too far back, you look bigger and appear to be trying to show off.

                We want your shoulders to be positioned so that they appear to be relaxed but also slightly square.

                Headshot of a girl with rotated shoulder

                Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

                Here are some tips for proper placement of your shoulders and neck:

                • If you're facing forward, try slightly turning your head and angling your shoulders toward each other at a 45 degree angle. This subtle asymmetry gives off a relaxed yet friendly vibe. 
                • When you're not looking directly into the camera, turn one shoulder toward the lens and position your body at a three-quarter angle.
                • Then, rotate your other shoulder away from the lens so that it's out of sight (also known as a full turn). This headshot pose is incredibly flattering for women because it creates strong lines and curves in the face and body.
                • Avoid covering up part of your neck. People often cover up their necks with their chins or jaws, which has a negative impact on their headshots. Make sure that your chin is slightly extended forward to avoid this issue. 
                • Your neck is part of the shoulder — and you shouldn't turn your neck too much towards the camera. This can create a double chin, and it can also make you look like you're straining to turn toward the camera.

                  6. Hand and Arms

                  headshot of a man with crossed arm

                  Photo by Jonas Kakaroto on Unsplash

                  Body language is an important part to get a professional headshot, and your hands are a great way to add personality to your image. Here are some tips for proper placement of your hands and arms while taking headshots:

                  • Crossed arms pose is a common choice for how we should position our hands in an image. If you're wearing sleeves, this can be a good option. It suggests that you're relaxed and confident.
                  • Putting hands in the pockets is another good option. It can provide a similar effect as crossed arms, giving you more variety in your headshot session. Make sure that your fingers aren't tightly gripped on the inside of the pocket so they don't look stiff or uncomfortable.
                  • Another best look is with both arms hanging loosely on either side. This will allow you to hold much more natural poses and look more comfortable in front of the camera.

                      Conclusion

                      You don't need to be a professional to get the most out of a headshot pose. Just be prepared to work within the "normal" limitations of the situation. If you are not comfortable with cameras, it is best to practice before taking one. While having your picture taken might feel awkward, relax and have fun with it!