Having great headshots and branding photography helps you connect immediately with website and social media visitors, and begin that process of turning them into clients.
Because that’s what we want, right? Our website and social media platforms working for us 24/7 to get new leads, nurture your current leads and keep your past clients up-to-date about your business so they can purchase again or refer you to their friends.
I wish I could be out there making connections with folks in real life every day. It’s so much easier when you can talk to someone, ask and answer questions and generally be your amazing self. But there are only so many hours in the day, and we have to work in our business too. So our 2D digital clones are out there in the interwebs working on our behalf.
Keeping all this in mind, how do your online images support your professional goals? Are you standing out for the wrong reasons? The lovely women in the what not to do image above could have changed her body position slightly and come away with a much more modern and flattering shot. And that’s what I want for you!
How are you using your online images to your advantage?
Imagine you are being featured in an article, on a podcast or have a speaking engagement coming up. You open your computer one morning and find an email from the organizer asking for your headshot to plaster all over the promotions they will blast to their audience.
Do you easily navigate to a folder, choose the perfect image for just this situation and send it off? Or do you mutter an expletive under your breath knowing that your current headshot is you sporting your hair color from 5 years ago with a fake smile in front of a dappled blue backdrop that reminds you of your seventh grade school photo? At least it doesn’t have the neon squiggles in the background, right? Gotta love the 90s!
Maybe you are like my recent client Julie who was getting a promotion at work. Her boss wanted to add her to the company website. Knowing that her current headshot was a family photo with some creative cropping, she called me and got new headshots pronto.
Your online image is vital to send the right message to your current and future clients, and you know it. Read on for 3 of my go-to, non-cheesy headshot poses.
Pose #1: Power pose
If you are looking for a power pose, this is the one. This headshot pose works if you want to convey strength and stability. The key to this pose is that your head and shoulders are square (or nearly) square to the camera.
If seated, your hands rest lightly on your thighs. When standing, hands are usually in pockets for guys with relaxed arms, and arms are next to the body, elbows slightly bent backwards for ladies. For an extra feminine feel when shot at ¾ length, you can put your hands on your waist like in my current headshot.
Standing square to the camera is a great alternative to the typical, often cheesy, crossing arms pose you see in headshots and branding photography. I’m not a huge fan of crossing your arms as it is a defensive body position. In my opinion, crossed arms is the equivalent of putting out a closed for business sign. I don’t know any business owner that wants to send that message!
If you are concerned about visually slimming the body, this may not be the best pose for you. When your shoulders are square to the camera, you see the entire width of your body. That being said I photograph, all body types with this pose and let the client choose the ones they like the best.
Summary: Strong, power pose, great alternative to crossing arms; may not be the best if you want to slim down.
Pose #2: Conversational lean
For this pose you are usually seated, though it can be done standing if you have something to lean onto. The key to this pose is the forward lean, which allows your head, shoulders and upper torso to come forward. Because it’s seated and your face is projected forward, this pose tends to have a casual, relaxed feel to it, tempering the fact that you are still square to the camera.
Great for creatives, entrepreneurs or actors, or if you are in a more formal profession and want some variety in your images. For example, if you are the CEO of a company, you could have a serious, formal pose for your external website, but on your internal company blog you have a pose like the one below that suggests you are open, engaged and listening to your team.
Guys will sit with their knees apart and leaning forward. They can rest their hands or forearms on their thighs with their elbows out.
Ladies, you will keep your knees together and lean forward onto your thighs with your forearms. The trick to slimming down in this pose is to bring your elbows inside your body line to create an hourglass shape. You can also easily bring your hands up into the image with this pose. Just don’t rest your chin in your palm or you are venturing into cheese territory. Touch down on the neck with the lightest pressure or put your hand behind your head on top of your hair not under.
I love this pose because of the approachability of it. It’s the body language you naturally fall into when having an engrossing, one-on-one conversation. It also has a contemporary feel to it. Less like a traditional, stuffy headshot. It does look best when you can see where your arms are resting for context, so be mindful when cropping.
Summary: Casual, approachable pose, great to have for variety in your headshots.
Pose #3: One pose to rule them all
If you are looking for a one-pose-fits-all, this is one. If you’ve ever gotten your photo taken en masse, for example at your employer, you’ve probably been asked to sit and turn your body at a diagonal. The vast majority of headshots you will see are some variation on this pose and for good reason. This pose is a happy medium between the strong, powerful stance of pose #1 and the casual, friendly body language of pose #2.
This pose can be done standing or seated and the degree of the turn adjusted. It’s always a good idea to have something to do with your hands if they are going to be in the image, and the examples below are two good options.
Additionally, moving one of your shoulders away from the camera is universally flattering. Anytime you turn your body on an angle it cuts down the width of the body visually and is therefore slimming. However, as you move past the 45 degree angle and your front shoulder comes forward you begin to close down your body. It sends a coy, flirty message that you might want to save for a dating profile or boudoir photo.
If you want just one photo, this pose is versatile. Assuming you haven’t done something with your arms that projects your elbows out like putting your hands on your hips, it can be cropped tight to head and shoulders or pulled back for a ¾ length shot.
Summary: Works for everyone, versatile for various crops.
Make it Your Own
The poses above are mainly focused on how your body is positioned, and the message it conveys. But there are a few more things to consider that affect the mood and feeling of your images.
Of course, you can change up any of them by changing your facial expression. You can make pose #3 more serious by rocking your best steely gaze or make pose #1 more friendly by flashing a big grin.
You can get more subtle expressions by slightly turning and/or tilting your head. Turning your head is another great way to visually slim down the face.
Finally, put a lot of time and effort into planning your outfit. If you are in a formal environment your options may be somewhat limited, but you can choose your favorite color blouse or tie. For everyone else, play with color, style and accessories that communicate your personality and reflect your personal brand.
Mix the 3 basic poses above with different facial expressions and outfits, and you are ready to stand out for the right reasons and move your business forward.
Photographer. Maker. Nerd. Mom. Wife. Plant-lover. Francophile. A great day is lounging around at home reading, organizing, playing with the kids and cooking fresh food from scratch.