Nailing the Perfect Headshot Pose: Tips for Corporate Headshot Success

First impressions mean something and a headshot is your first impression in the digital world. Most potential employers and clients will do a quick Google search and check out your LinkedIn profile before you ever meet face-to-face, and that face of yours will be the first thing they see, so you want to make sure you put your best foot (er, face) forward.

Your photographer should help you feel comfortable on the day of the shoot, and most importantly, help you convey your confidence, professionalism, and approachability. It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist, a CEO, or a dog food taster.

What is the secret sauce in nailing the perfect headshot pose? We’re going to dive into that right now. With all of the big names out here in Hollywood, it should come to you as no surprise that the people of sunny California know a thing or two about taking amazing headshots. I probably shouldn’t drop this huge industry secret, but for you? I’m willing to bare it all. So here’s your spoiler alert: No perfect headshot pose exists. You are free to Vogue your little heart out while being confident and having a little bit of fun!

Preparing For Your Headshot Session

Preparation for your upcoming headshot session should, ideally, start about a week in advance. Make sure you hydrate by drinking lots of water, eat well, and get plenty of rest in the days leading up to your shoot.

You’ll also want to figure out things like makeup and hair well ahead so you’re not mussing and fussing the day of. And don’t forget about your wardrobe. It’s important to have a few options for outfits, which means you might want to leave some time to go shopping. Don’t pick out your outfit the morning of your photoshoot; do it the week before so you are ready to roll.

Whatever’s on your mind will be carried into your photoshoot so do something relaxing that morning. Maybe that’s hanging out with your kids or dog or getting a yummy coffee from your fav cafe. Whatever that looks like, the goal is to make sure you walk into your photoshoot feeling as zen as possible.

Professional woman setting on a sofa in a sports coat and jeans

Professional Corporate Headshot Tips

There is no perfect headshot pose, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tips to help you get the most out of your corporate headshot session.

Check out these tips for posing:

  • While I encourage you to look for inspiration, you don’t need to spend hours on Pinterest or Google for the most epic model poses. You are you! Emulating someone else’s posture can look fake and stiff and won’t translate well on camera.
  • Look at the camera! The best pose is one where you look straight at the camera, just like you would look a client in the eyes if you were shaking hands for the first time. Being comfortable and confident is the most important thing. How would you engage with a new client? Bring that same energy, expertise and body language.
  • You don’t need to keep your arms folded tightly at your sides. This isn’t middle school picture day (thank goodness). So, spread your feet apart slightly, and you’ll automatically look more at ease and relaxed.
  • Everyone wants to know where to put their hands. Putting them or one of them in your front or back pockets is fine! You can put a hand on your hip or hook your thumb in your pocket. This creates lines separating your arms from your body so you don’t look like one large mass. Nobody is going for that look. Doing this will make you appear thinner and help you appear comfortable and confident.
  • If you’re worried about a double chin (and aren’t we all?), lean in slightly to help minimize it.

Your photographer will work with you and experiment with many different poses during your session, so I encourage you to communicate openly and directly with your photographer. They want you to feel comfortable and confident while shooting and ultimately walk away with headshots that you absolutely love and that fit your personality and brand. Communication is key. Great poses will follow.   

Conveying Authenticity in a Perfect Headshot Pose

If you want to smile, that’s great. We’ll want to capture warmth and light in your professional headshot to ensure it feels truly authentic. So, try thinking of something that makes you happy. Maybe it’s your partner, your kids, your pets, or that badass Loki marathon you finally finished. Whatever it is? Make sure that your smile exudes genuine happiness.

If you don’t want to smile, that’s ok too. Many people think they have to smile to create a perfect headshot pose, but that’s not the case anymore. Maybe you’re a dentist, and those pearly whites are one hundred percent part of your brand messaging, in which case, smile away! Otherwise, only smile if you want to. Some people love smiling! Others would rather have that dentist perform a root canal on them. Imagine how that would look in a headshot! Nothing is worse than a fake smile in a headshot because you look like a giant phony.

A man in photograph staring compassionately at those viewing his headshot

Outdated Industry Stereotypes

Authenticity isn’t industry-specific, and that is always the most important element to convey in your headshots. You’ll notice that the big law firms that attract a lot of admiration in their industry don’t use the same background. They aren’t scowling at the camera. I find that most big firms, whether accounting, legal, architecture, software, engineering, etc., want to appear warm and approachable. Let’s throw away those outdated industry headshot rules.

So now that we’ve thrown them away, there are no rules related to industry. Maybe you don’t want to appear tough and approachable. Recently, I worked with a realtor who wanted her professional headshots to make her look like a badass! Typically, we would see a photo of a smiling realtor who portrays themselves as super-friendly. But think about buying a house for a minute. It’s one of the toughest financial and legal decisions you may ever be a part of. Wouldn’t you want a warrior ready to fight for you?

Post-Processing and Retouching

Good photo editing doesn’t look like the photo was edited. I could edit every line out of your face and body, but you would look very strange since faces and bodies have lines. Most importantly, you wouldn’t look like you! I want to present your cleanest, freshest version with no distractions. That is the vibe we’re going for.

That said, a great photographer will make you look like your best you. They can easily remove distracting imperfections such as redness, fly-away hairs, uneven skin tones, nicks from your speedy shaving session, less-than-pearly-white teeth, or that Asgard-sized zit you woke up with this morning.

Your photographer should have your back and make you look the most you that you can look. That said, remember the golden rule and talk to them! If you’re particularly insecure about or bothered by something, be sure to mention it and talk with your photographer about how they can minimize or remove it.

If you look at my photos, you’ll see that not everyone looks like a perfect model, and that’s precisely how a professional headshot should be. There should be freckles and moles and stubble and gorgeous laugh lines.

Good editing removes distractions. Bad editing is the distraction. I only do the good kind.

Investing in Your Success

Headshots are a glimpse into your brand and core values, whether they be corporate headshots or individual headshots. Remember, there is no perfect pose, only one (or more!) perfect for you. It’s important to remember to stay relaxed and comfortable. And communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can help you nail that perfect corporate headshot pose. Let’s vogue together, shall we? Schedule your photoshoot at Ben Krantz Photo Studio today.

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