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The Portrait Photographer’s Guide:

Pro Tips and Insights

What Does Your Headshot Smile Say About You?

by | Headshot Tips, Personal Branding and Business Headshots

You’re in front of the camera, the photographer is ready, and suddenly, you’re hit with a question, “Should I be smiling for this?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone in pondering this! Today, let’s navigate through the nuances of finding the perfect expression for your professional headshot.

Understanding the Impact of Your Smile

First off, let’s debunk a common myth: there is no universal rule about smiling in headshots. The best expression for you depends heavily on your personal brand and the professional image you aim to project.

Reflect on Your Professional Brand

Start by asking, “What qualities do I want to communicate through my headshot?” If you’re a comedian, a bright, engaging smile can instantly communicate your persona to your audience. On the other hand, if you are a lawyer or a consultant, a more subdued, confident expression might be more appropriate. It’s all about aligning your facial expression with your professional identity.

The Spectrum of Smiles

Smiles can vary widely, from a broad, teeth-showing grin to a subtle, closed-lip smile. Here’s how you can decide:

-Full Smile with Teeth:

Eras photo of a woman with blue eyes and a warm smile, wearing a navy blazer and blue shirt, on a grey background for residency application

Best for those in the creative, customer-facing, or entertainment industries where friendliness and approachability are key.

– Slight or Closed-Lip Smile:

Professional headshot of a woman with short hair, wearing a black blouse and a subtle smile, captured by Marie Feutrier Photography at Gilbert Studio

Ideal for professions requiring a dash of seriousness, such as academia, corporate leadership, or technical fields.

The trick is to reflect a persona that feels authentic and suits the message you want to convey. Think of your headshot as your brand’s visual handshake—what impression do you want to leave?

Experiment and Practice

Finding your perfect smile is like trying on clothes; you need to see what looks best on you. Spend some time in front of a mirror experimenting with different smiles. See how you feel with each style and take note of what feels most natural while still aligning with your professional goals.

If possible, ask a friend to take some candid photos while you try out various expressions. This can offer you a different perspective and help you see what others might see when they look at your headshot.

Professional Guidance Makes a Difference

If you’re still unsure about your best look, this is where a professional headshot photographer steps in. A skilled photographer doesn’t just take pictures—they capture your essence. They can guide you through the process, from choosing your outfit to perfecting your pose, and yes, selecting your ideal smile.

They’ll consider factors like your industry, career goals, and personal style to ensure your headshot aligns with your professional landscape. A good photographer will help bring out your most genuine expression in a way that complements your professional narrative.

Final Thoughts

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should smile in your headshot, but with thoughtful consideration and professional input, you can choose an expression that truly represents your professional identity. A headshot is more than just a photo; it’s a powerful tool for making a strong first impression.

Are you ready to capture a headshot that tells your professional story? Let’s make sure it says exactly what you want it to. Remember, your expression is your introduction long before you get the chance to speak. Make it count!

With these tips, you’re all set to show off your professionalism and charm, all in one shot. Let the camera see the real you—confident, professional, and ready to take on the world.

For more tips on ensuring your attire complements your headshot expression, check out our guide on what to wear for professional headshots and business portraits.



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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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