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The Portrait Photographer’s Guide:

Pro Tips and Insights

Dos and Don’t on Professional Headshots / Avoiding the Cringe

by | Headshot Tips, Personal Branding and Business Headshots

Ever stumbled upon a headshot that made you pause, squint, and think, ‘Well, that’s… unique?’ If you’re on the hunt for what not to do in a headshot, chances are, you’ve been ‘blessed’ with seeing some pretty memorable ones – and not for the right reasons. Bad headshots are like watching a movie with terrible CGI – distracting, off-putting, and sometimes unintentionally hilarious. Let’s dive into some of the most common headshot blunders and, more importantly, how to dodge them. Because, trust me, nobody wants their professional image to be remembered as ‘the one with the weird Snapchat filter’ or ‘that creepy fake smile’.

1. The Creepy Smile

There’s a very fine line between a genuine smile and what I fondly refer to as the “creep-smile”. The tell-tale sign? When the mouth says “I’m happy!”, but the eyes scream, “help me!” In my journey as a Phoenix headshot photographer, I’ve encountered many a creepy smile. The key is to smile with your eyes; if not, it feels disingenuous.

2. The Awkward Hand

I mean, where does it come from? Why is it there? An unexpected hand creeping into the frame without the context of an arm can be, well, startling! Stick to the name: “head” shot. Let’s leave the hands out of it.

3. Snapchat Fails

If someone you’ve never met can’t recognize you from your headshot, then we have a problem. Always avoid Snapchat filters that alter your natural beauty.

4. Misfit Expressions

Imagine a hardcore metal singer giving a cutesy, dimpled smile. Doesn’t fit, right? Always ensure that your headshot vibes with your brand. It doesn’t always have to be a smile; a strong, confident gaze can speak volumes.

5. The Chaotic Backdrop

Remember, a headshot is about you, not the crowded café or car you’re sitting in. While a TV set might add value for a media professional, your cluttered office desk or ads in the background are just distractions.

6. Makeup Mishaps

Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a simple rule here: less is more. No makeup is always better than a wonky eyeliner that makes you look like you’ve had no sleep. For those unused to makeup, opt for a discreet, natural look.

 7. Dark Glasses Deception

A sunlit outdoor shoot sounds divine, but be wary if you’re wearing photochromic glasses. We want to see your eyes, not your sunglasses!

8.. Comedic Liberties

Sure, comedians have the leeway to experiment with fun headshots. But if stand-up isn’t your day job, let’s stick to the professional code, shall we?

Now for some solutions!


– Hire an Expert:

Always hire an experienced headshot photographer. Take a gander at their portfolio to ensure they can guide even the most camera-shy person to a stunning photo.

– Pick Your Spot:

Choose an open shade area with a clean background, free of any distractions.

– Natural Makeup:

When in doubt, always opt for a natural look.

In conclusion, while headshots are crucial for a modern real estate agent, an executive, or someone seeking a LinkedIn profile photoshoot, it’s essential to strike the right balance. Whether you’re going for business headshots for women, or looking for poses for professional headshots, avoid the pitfalls, and you’re on your way to a captivating portrait. After all, it’s not just about the headshot; it’s about the story it tells.

And while we’re at it, if you’re ever in Phoenix, do drop by. I promise, no creepy smiles here, just the best headshot portraits in town!



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Meet The Author

High school senior girl with a bob haircut, wearing a light purple and gold dress, posing with her hand on her chest at Marie Feutrier's professional portrait studio in Gilbert, AZ, for her glamor senior photo.
 Marie Feutrier, a French transplant in Gilbert, AZ, masterfully captures personalities through her lens. With an accent as charming as her photos, she doesn’t just take your picture, she tells your story, one click at a time.

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