Facial Expressions In Headshots

Say Cheese! The Vital Role of Facial Expressions in Professional Headshots


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Say Cheese! The Vital Role of Facial Expressions in Professional Headshots


A picture speaks a thousand words. This adage holds even in today’s digital age, where visuals dominate our lives. Whether you’re applying for a job, networking on LinkedIn, or promoting your brand on social media, a professional headshot is necessary. But what makes a headshot truly stand out? It’s about more than just having a clear, high-quality image. The importance of facial expressions in professional headshots cannot be overstated. In this article, we’ll delve into the science behind facial expressions and how they can make all the difference in creating a lasting impression.

The Power of Facial Expressions

Facial expressions are the window to our emotions. They convey various feelings, from joy and excitement to sadness and anger. Our brains are wired to interpret facial expressions in milliseconds, making them a powerful tool for communication. Research shows facial expressions are more effective at conveying emotions than words alone.

Regarding professional headshots, facial expressions can make or break your image. A warm smile, direct eye contact, and confident body language convey competence, approachability, and trustworthiness. On the other hand, a blank stare, closed-off body language, or forced a smile can create an impression of aloofness, disinterest, or even insincerity.

Tips for nailing the perfect facial expression

Now that we understand the importance of facial expressions in professional headshots let’s explore some tips for nailing the perfect expression.

  1. Relax your face: Before the photo shoot, take a few minutes to relax your face. Breathe deeply and consciously release any tension in your facial muscles. A relaxed face is more likely to convey a natural, genuine expression.
  2. Practice your smile: A genuine smile can make all the difference in a headshot. Practice smiling in front of a mirror and experiment with different angles and intensities. You want your smile to be warm, natural, and not too forced.
  3. Use your eyes: Direct eye contact can convey confidence and trustworthiness. Look directly into the camera lens and imagine you’re connecting with the viewer personally. Avoid looking down or to the side, which can create a sense of distraction or disinterest.
  4. Mind your body language: Your body language can say as much as your facial expression. Stand or sit up straight, and avoid crossing your arms or slouching. Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid any tense or awkward poses.
  5. Get professional help: If you need help with how to pose or convey the correct expression, consider working with a professional photographer. A skilled photographer can help you find the right angles and lighting and can guide how to achieve the perfect expression.

The Pros and Cons of Facial Expressions in Professional Headshots

While the benefits of using facial expressions in professional headshots are clear, there are also some potential drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.


  • Creates a lasting impression: A genuine smile and confident body language can create a lasting impression on the viewer, making you more memorable and approachable.
  • Conveys professionalism: The proper facial expression can convey competence, trustworthiness, and professionalism, which can be essential in a business setting.
  • Builds trust: Direct eye contact and a warm smile can build trust with the viewer, making them more likely to engage with you and your brand.


  • Can be perceived as insincere: If the facial expression appears forced or unnatural, it can create a sense of insincerity and undermine the viewer’s trust.
  • Can distract from other elements: In some cases, a solid facial expression can draw too much attention away from other essential elements of the headshot, such as the background or clothing.
  • It may only be appropriate for some industries: Depending on the industry or context, a solid facial expression may not be appropriate or convey the wrong impression.

FAQS about Facial Expressions in Professional Headshots

Can I use a serious facial expression in my headshot?

It depends on the industry and context. In some industries, such as law or finance, a serious expression may convey professionalism and competence. However, a warm, approachable expression may be more appropriate in industries such as entertainment or media.

Should I smile with my teeth showing or closed?

Again, it depends on personal preference and the context. Generally, a natural, genuine smile with teeth showing can convey warmth and approachability. However, some people prefer a closed smile or a more subtle expression.

Can I use a professional headshot taken with a smartphone?

While smartphone cameras have improved significantly in recent years, a professional headshot taken by a skilled photographer will generally yield better results. Professional lighting, equipment, and editing can significantly affect the final product.


In conclusion, the importance of facial expressions in professional headshots must be balanced. A warm, genuine smile and confident body language can create a lasting impression on the viewer, conveying competence, approachability, and trustworthiness. However, it’s essential to consider the context and industry and to avoid forced or insincere expressions. By following the tips outlined in this article and working with a skilled photographer, you can create a headshot that captures the best version of yourself and leaves a lasting impression on your audience. So, go ahead and say cheese!

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