How to Pose for the Perfect Headshot (without feeling awkward)

25 October 2022

You’re in need of a new headshot, but the very thought of having to pose for a photographer makes you feel sick to the pit of your stomach. You’ve heard you should press your tongue to the roof of your mouth to draw your chin in – but that just makes you feel silly. Besides, it’s not actually true. Is it? As an experienced portrait, branding and former wedding photographer – and someone who used to hate her photo being taken – I have a few pointers to share with you.

Here are my myth busting tips on how to pose for a headshot or portrait without feeling awkward. 

Portrait in red by Liberty Sessions and Spirited Portrait Photography London

Do You Need a Headshot …or a Portrait?

I used headshots and portraits interchangeably because to me it’s a useful way of thinking about what a headshot should involve. To most people these days it’s something so ubiquitous it feels like a quick fix to update a LinkedIn profile. Yet you should think of your headshot as a portrait you might sit with an artist for. A project to prepare for, an image that conveys something of who you are. A good headshot or portrait conveys personality, confidence and trust. (Trust and likability are what you should always aim for in a headshot to get the upper hand). And unless you’re a highly experienced sitter, It takes more than a few minutes to get that across. 

Which takes us nicely to our first point. Dear reader, read on for my top tips on how to relax and pose without feeling awkward (or like you’re posing):

Top Tips on How to Pose for Your Headshot

1. Relax.

Of course, this is easier said than done. So in my sessions you’ll have music playing and I’ll give you a few warm up ‘exercises’, including for example, giving your shoulders a good roll and taking a few deep breaths. 

Wellness with Gaby by Spirited Portrait Photography London

2. How to Pose Naturally – Your body is not a statue

Go through these motions as you read it and try it out – it’s good practice! 

  • Firstly, let’s breathe deeply. 
  • Now drop your shoulders a little. 
  • Soften those joints. A good rule of thumb is that if it bends, bend it. That doesn’t mean flop like a rag doll though. Gently soften the knees, and the elbows. 
  • Lightly separate your upper arms from your chest too – a little tip to get rid of those dreaded bingo wings!
Portrait Photographer London - strong confident headshots and portraits from home studio

3. What to do with your hands?

Gently unclench and soften your hands too. The rest is really up to your photographer. I will direct you as to where to put your hands and how to stand or sit. Direction is a great way to feel more in control and it doesn’t have to mean you’re posing unnaturally. In fact, it’s more likely that without good direction you will feel awkward, freeze up, and look quite stiff and unnatural.

4. Go with the flow

That being said, if you’re sitting with me, learn to go with the flow. Listen and react, let your body move around within poses. 

5 easy tips for confident posing

5. What about the chin? 

Does the tongue to the roof of the mouth draw in your neck? Why, yes it does. I’ll give you a few more pointers in your session too, because everybody’s body is different.  

You can read more about what it’s like to work with me or take a look at the portrait services I offer from my home studio in London. And whilst you might think the people featured on these pages are absolute naturals – let me let you into a secret. Not many of them would have said they loved their picture being taken before they started!

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I’m grateful for publishing such engaging material on your blog.
Your approach to unveiling the intricacies of photography makes your posts a delight
to read. It’s clear that considerable skill and dedication is invested
in your work, rendering it a valuable resource for photography enthusiasts like myself.
Keep up the great work, and thank you for expanding our knowledge of photography.
Best regards, Anja

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