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How do you look approachable in a headshot photo?

Are you looking to refresh your existing professional photo and wondering how to look approachable so more people want to work with you? You’re in the right place! Today I’ll share with you the secret sauce for getting a friendly and approachable looking headshot portrait during your upcoming professional photoshoot. 

studio business photography portrait of a man smiling

3 Key elements of looking approachable in your professional headshot photo:

Open body language

Our body positioning and movement can tell others about us more than we think. How we sit, how we stand and how we carry ourselves often play a crucial role on a first impression, as this is humans operate on a visceral level.

From my experience as a professional photographer, I often see that any discomfort, doubt, stress/nerves, etc reads in photos. Whenever a person is nervous in front of my camera I see shoulders being raised, fists tensed and jaw being clenched (just some of the many signs). All of these are seemingly small things that make a huge impact in photos.

When you’re tense and nervous during your headshot photoshoot, it’s not going to translate well in your final photos. These negative feelings make you close up with your body language as well as your face (we’ll discuss your facial expressions in a little bit). Closed body language is the opposite of approachable.

If you’re wondering how to look approachable in your headshot, you need to feel good while being in front of the camera – comfortable, relaxed and confident. It’s easier said, I know. Find a photographer who’ll put you at ease in front of the camera and guide through posing. This way you won’t stress about not knowing how to pose and will feel more confident, that will then result in a more open, welcoming body language.

A bonus tip will be to choose open body language poses and avoid ‘defensive’ ones (such as folded arms, leaning back with your chest raised, etc).

If you need a little inspiration for posing, make sure to check out Best Poses for Professional Headshots blog.

Relaxed facial expression

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not just your body but also face that reflects any negative emotions you’re experiencing while having your professional headshot taken. As well as frowning unnecessarily, we carry a lot of tension in our faces – jaw, eyebrows, eyes, mouth – without even realising it!

In order to look approachable in a headshot you want to relax your face as much as possible without it dropping (like an upside down smiley face!)

Inhale deeply, and then exhale through your teeth trying to relax your mouth and lips. That’s a great start! After this focus on releasing any tension in your jaw, forehead if your tend to raise your eyebrows a lot. 

Remember, any kind of tension in your face will alter your appearance (not necessarily in a good way) and will lead to unnecessary lines. No one wants wrinkles, right!?

You might also enjoy How to Be Photogenic: The Secret Revealed.

how to look approachable in a headshot portrait - smile

And Finally, Smile! 

Smiling in your professional headshot is something that I will never stop talking about. I feel like a simple smile is so neglected in corporate headshots – people are worried about coming across too friendly and ‘soft’ in their professional image.

If you want to convey a “professional” look – remember, It’s very much perception based and it means different things to different people. For you, “professional” might mean a serious facial expression, for someone else it might mean an office setting, or a specific pose (such as folded arms). 

At the end of the day a successful business headshot is not about you just looking good in that photo. It needs to serve a specific purpose: show yourself as a business owner/professional/expert who’s friendly and approachable in order to bring you more leads and work. 

Having a serious facial expression in your photo might only look professional to you, a potential client looking at your headshot might feel that you look grumpy and ‘closed’.  They might just go elsewhere because of that first impression.

To sum up, an effective professional headshot photo is all about what a potential client will think about us based off that single image. Forget about the “aww it’s a nice photo of me!” mentality and choose your business portrait wisely. 

If you have any other tips on how to look approachable in a headshot portrait that I haven’t mentioned, feel free to drop it in the comment section below!


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