Headshot Tips – How to Look Less Stiff, More Relaxed, Genuine + Natural

portland headshot tips and photography

Just Say No To Stiffly Posed Headshots

Ever notice that ever-popular trend of stiffly posed headshots? I was in Nordstrom Rack a few months ago and noticed some framed employee headshots on the wall in the restroom hallway. They looked professional, but had that same stiff stale signature look of most every other headshot I see. Bor-ing.

Are all those people you see really that awkward and uncomfortable?

Some, possibly… but in my experience, the majority are not.

Ever wonder how that look came to be the popular standard? Me too. I can’t answer that, but I certainly can say that it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on to learn some of my headshot tips on how to look less stiff and more natural…

Here Are A Few Headshot Tips On How To Achieve A More Authentic, Natural Look… And How You Can Avoid Looking Stiff And Posed.

I find that stiff/awkward posing is typically a result of four things. Here are those four things and some of my tips and tricks to achieving more naturally posed headshots…

1. You’re nervous! It’s not every day you step in front of the camera of some stranger. You want to look your best and you’re not sure what to do. Even I get nervous when I’m in front of someone else’s lens! Don’t worry, it’s natural.

Tip: It’s the photographer’s job to help you feel more comfortable. However, if she/he isn’t doing a good job of this, I recommend taking matters into your own hands. Keep in mind… if you’re feeling awkward, you’ll most likely look awkward in your photos.  Breath deeply. Take a moment to yourself. Close your eyes. Think of your comfort spot. Shake it out. Relax your shoulder tension.

2. Poor Training. It’s true, most people have had those portrait experiences where you’re trained to sit up really tall, throw your shoulders back, put your chin down and cheese-smile for the camera. Remember the fist to the chin? While some of that is good advice, it’s not always applied in the best way.

Tips: I tell my clients to forget everything they’ve been taught about ‘posing’ for the camera. I never ask for a forced smile without meaning or intention. I let my clients know that, in most cases, if it feels awkward, it’s going to look awkward. So, if I ask you to do something that feels unnatural… claim it, make adjustments so that it feels more natural.

3. Do you feel comfortable with your photographer? If you don’t, chances are you’ll never be able to relax during your session.

Tip: This is an easy one. Choose a photographer who you feel comfortable with. Get a recommendation from friends. Chances are if they loved their photographer, so will you.

4. Your Photographer. That’s it, simply put… and this one is key… you can not change the style of your photographer. All photographers are different. All photographers have their own methods, preferences and styles. You can’t simply choose a photographer blindly, cover your eyes and hope they magically create the imagery you’ve imagined and hoped for. Their style and skill level is their style and skill level. What’s more (this is super common)… your imagery is a reflection of your photographer. Never heard that before? It’s true, I’ve seen it over and over again. If your photographer has a naturally stiff composure, chances are that stiffness will show through in the subject he/she is photographing (a.k.a. you!). This means, if you’ve hired a photographer that gives you those same stiff headshots that he’s created for all the other clients in his portfolio and you don’t like it… it’s YOUR fault for choosing a photographer with a style you don’t like.

Tip: Choose your photographer wisely! Look at their portfolio (this goes for booking a photographer for any type of session). Look for consistency in style. If they have one image you love and the rest are stiff and you hate them, this is not the photographer for you. Photography is an art and is completely subjective. Researching before booking is essential. Once you’ve booked your photographer, if there are particular images in his/her portfolio that you LOVE… show them and tell them WHY you love it so that they can strive to produce the imagery you’re looking for.