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  • Writer's pictureMarie Miller

Perfecting Your Professional Headshot Poses

Expert Tips from Chicago Photographer, Marie Miller, to Nail your Headshot Session

By: Marie Miller, Chicago Headshot Photographer

Headshot photography Chicago
Chicago Headshots

Are you gearing up to get your professional headshot taken? Your headshot can be your key to making a lasting impression on potential clients or employers, so it's important to ensure you look your best. One of the key factors in capturing a great headshot is mastering your poses. In this article, we will share some tips from Marie Miller, a Chicago-based photographer, on how to nail your headshot poses.

Why are Headshot Poses Important?

Headshot poses are important because they can convey your personality and professionalism in just one photo. Your pose can make a lasting impression on potential clients or employers, so showcasing your best self is important. In addition, different poses can highlight various features of your face and body, which can make a big difference in your headshot's overall look and feel.

Pre-Shoot Preparation

Before your headshot shoot, it's important to prepare yourself. This includes taking care of your outfit, accessories, hair, and makeup. Additionally, it's important to practice your facial expressions so that you're comfortable in front of the camera.

Outfit and Accessories

When choosing your outfit for your headshot, it's important to choose something professional and fits well. Avoid clothing that is too tight or too loose, as it can distort your body shape in the photo. Also, avoid busy patterns or bold colors that distract you from your face. When it comes to accessories, less is more. Simple jewelry or a scarf can add a touch of personality to your outfit without overwhelming the photo.

Hair and Makeup

Your hair and makeup can make a big difference in the overall look of your headshot. So it's essential to keep your hair styled in a way that flatters your face and fits your outfit. For makeup, stick to natural-looking colors that enhance your features without being too bold.

Facial Expression Practice

Practicing your facial expressions before your headshot shoot can help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Try practicing different expressions in front of a mirror, such as a smile, a serious face, and a relaxed expression. This can help you find the right expression for your headshot and feel confident when it's time for the shoot.

Basic Headshot Poses

When taking a headshot, posing can make all the difference. Whether you're a professional model or just need a headshot for your LinkedIn profile, knowing some basic headshot poses can help you look your best. Here are some of the most popular and effective headshot poses you can try.

Straight On Pose

The straight on pose is the most classic and timeless headshot pose. It involves facing the camera directly with your shoulders squared and your head straight. This pose showcases your facial features and creates a confident, approachable look. To make the most of this pose, try to relax your face and keep your eyes focused on the camera.

Angled Pose

Angled pose, Linkedin Headshot Photography Chicago
Headshot Photography Pose

The angled pose involves turning your body slightly away from the camera while looking towards the camera with your head turned towards the photographer. This pose can create a more dynamic look and highlight your face's different features. For example, angling your face can help accentuate your cheekbones or jawline. Practice finding the right angle that flatters your face and body.

Leaning Pose

The leaning pose involves leaning your shoulder towards the camera while keeping your head turned towards the photographer. This pose can create a more casual and approachable look. Leaning towards the camera can also help elongate your neck and create a more flattering shape. To make the most of this pose, relax your shoulders and keep your body at an angle to create depth and interest.

Once you've mastered these basic poses, you can try more advanced poses that add personality and uniqueness to your headshot.

Hand-on-Chin Pose

The hand-on-chin pose involves resting your hand on your chin or cheek. This pose can create a more introspective and thoughtful look. This pose is excellent for portraying a more serious or intellectual look. To pull off this pose, try to find a relaxed and natural position for your hand and focus on keeping your eyes engaged with the camera.

Crossed Arm Pose

The crossed arm pose involves crossing your arms in front of your chest. This pose can create a more confident and strong look. This pose is excellent for portraying a more authoritative or influential persona. To make the most of this pose, keep your shoulders relaxed and your face confident and engaged.

Overall, you can try many different headshot poses depending on your goals and personality. Then, with some practice and experimentation, you can find the perfect pose that highlights your best features and creates the image you want to portray.

In addition to the basic headshot poses, several other poses can add more variety and interest to your headshot portfolio. Here are five more poses that you can try for your next photoshoot.

The Confident Stance

Headshot photography portrait of a woman, hand on hip
Chicago Professional Headshots

The confident stance is all about body language. Stand up straight with your shoulders back and your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips or in your pockets. This pose can make you look taller and more confident. In addition, it's great for showing off your personality and energy.

The Natural Smile

Smiling for photos can sometimes feel forced and unnatural. To avoid this, think of something that genuinely makes you happy or amused. This will help you produce a more natural and relaxed smile. You can also try laughing or smiling with your eyes for a more genuine and engaging expression.

The Strong Gaze

An intense gaze can convey power and authority in a headshot. Look directly into the camera with a focused expression. Make sure to engage your eyes and avoid squinting. This pose can be especially effective for business or professional headshots.

The Engaging Conversation Pose

The engaging conversation pose involves pretending to have a conversation with the photographer. Look slightly off-camera and smile or laugh as if engaged in an interesting conversation. This pose can create a more natural and candid look, which can be great for casual or lifestyle headshots.

The Hand Gesture Pose

Using your hands in a headshot can add interest and personality to your image. Try holding something, gesturing with your hands, or placing your hands in a natural position that complements the rest of your pose. For example, you could rest your hand on your hip, hold a prop, or play with your hair. Just make sure to keep your hand gestures subtle and natural-looking.

Remember, the key to a great headshot is to be comfortable and confident in front of the camera. Experiment with different poses and expressions to find the ones that best showcase your unique personality and style.

Tips for Perfecting Your Poses

Once you have chosen your poses, a few tips can help you perfect them.

Relax Your Shoulders

Tension in your shoulders can make you look stiff and uncomfortable in your headshot. Relax your shoulders and keep them down to create a more natural and relaxed look.

Avoid Tilting Your Head Too Much

Tilting your head too much can create unflattering angles and distort the features of your face. Instead, keep your head slightly tilted or straight on to the camera to create a more flattering look.

Keep Your Chin Slightly Forward

Keeping your chin slightly forward can help elongate your neck and create a more defined jawline. This can create a more flattering and professional look.

Practice in Front of a Mirror

Practicing your poses in front of a mirror can help you see how you look from different angles and adjust accordingly. This can help you feel more confident and comfortable in front of the camera.


Your headshot is an important tool in showcasing your professionalism and personality. By mastering your poses and preparing before your shoot, you can ensure that you are presenting your best self. By following the tips and poses outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to nailing your professional headshot.


How many poses should I practice for my headshot?

It's a good idea to practice at least 5-7 poses to ensure that you have various options.

Can I bring props to my headshot shoot?

It's best to avoid props as they can distract from the photo's focus, which should be your face.

Should I smile in my headshot?

It's up to you and the message you want to convey. For example, a smile can create a friendly and approachable look, while a serious expression can create a more professional and focused look.

What should I wear for my headshot?

Choose something that is professional and fits well. Avoid clothing that is too tight or too loose, and avoid busy patterns or bold colors that can distract from your face.

How long does a headshot session usually take?

A headshot session can take 30 minutes or even 3 hrs depending on the photographer and the number of poses you want to try.

How can I practice my headshot poses?

One way to practice is to stand in front of a mirror and try out different facial expressions and angles. You can also ask a friend or family member to take photos of you while you practice different poses.

How can I look more natural in my headshot poses?

One tip is to focus on your breathing and relax your facial muscles. Try to avoid overthinking your poses and let your natural expressions shine through.

What if I don't like any of my headshot poses during the session?

Don't worry! Your photographer will likely take multiple photos, and you can review them together to select the best ones. Additionally, you can discuss any concerns or preferences with your photographer to ensure you are happy with the final result.

What facial expressions should I practice for my headshot?

It's a good idea to practice a range of expressions, from a neutral expression to more intense emotions like happiness, confidence, and determination. You can also practice variations on smiling, such as a closed-mouth smile or a half-smile.


Marie Miller is a professional photographer based in Chicago, specializing in headshot photography. With years of experience, she has honed her craft to provide her clients with high-quality, dynamic images that capture their unique personalities and professional brand. Marie's passion for photography and her ability to make her clients feel comfortable in front of the camera sets her apart from others in the industry. Her dedication to her clients and her attention to detail have earned her a loyal following and a reputation as one of the best headshot photographers in Chicago. To learn more about Marie and her work, book a consultation or request information for individual and group headshots please visit Chicago Headshot Photography and send a quick message.

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