Business Headshot Poses: How to Pose Professionally

Headshot poses have greatly changed over time as well as the approach to this type of shooting.

Employers aren’t interested in photos of candidates with serious faces being photographed against a white background anymore.

Professional headshot poses are those that make the subject comfortable and don't feel like actually posed. Having a natural expression in their photos is what makes the difference.

Basic but important tips for a successful photoshoot:

  • Posing should NOT be complicated
  • Relaxed, natural, comfortable
  • Do not worry if you cannot mimic one of your poses – proceed to another one

1. Reference Headshot Pose

headshot poses classic

Using a photo reference allows for taking excellent headshots quickly and easily. The classic option is to stand straight, pull your shoulders back, and focus your eyes on the camera with a neutral countenance. If you want to look confident and approachable, this pose is an ideal fit.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Profile photo
  • Email signature

2. With Arms Crossed

headshot poses arms crossed

This is one of the most popular business headshot poses. Stand crossing your arms in front of your chest, focus your eyes on the camera lens, and smile. Doing it right, you can get an elegant, professional-looking image, but if you cross your arms too tightly, you will look introverted and unwilling to cooperate.

A woman posing this way, should half turn to the camera and lower a shoulder a bit.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Profile photo
  • Acting headshot

3. Use Props

headshot poses props

Consider using props to make your portrait sessions even more successful. For example, put on a favorite pair of glasses to convey a thoughtful and a bit serious mood. If you are a designer, artist, or thought leader, this pose will work perfectly.

If you wear glasses, you need to be very mindful and attentive when learning how to pose for a professional headshot, since undesired glare may appear in such pictures.

First, take a comfortable pose and then a photographer can adjust the lighting. It is important to make sure that the light does not fall directly on your face.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Profile photo
  • Academic and education
  • Healthcare and medical

4. Candid Headshot Picture

headshot poses candid

The purpose of such lifestyle photos is to reveal the true personality of a person rather than feature a perfect and rehearsed look.

A photographer should capture you while smiling, talking, or working, fixing your gestures and facial expressions to make the images really sincere. Make sure to behave relaxed and spontaneously. Do not look directly into the camera lens, and try to be as heartfelt as possible.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • Profile photo
  • Email signature
  • Creative and fashion

5. Three-Quarters Angle Pose

headshot poses angle

This is a commonly used trick for shooting corporate headshots that helps you look less uptight than when looking straight into the camera.

Turning 3/4 means the upper part of your body is turned three-quarters away from the lens.

Do it while taking wide or close-up headshots.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • Personal blogs or websites
  • Creative and fashion
  • Media and entertainment
  • Marketing and PR

6. Environmental Headshot

headshot poses environmental

Environmental portrait is designed to present your profession, personality, or interest. For this type of photoshoot, location and setting are crucial.

A photographer should position a model in the center of the frame, and a person should interact with the surroundings naturally and be easygoing. The most optimal poses are standing in front of a bookshelf, at an event or speaking engagement, or outdoors.

If you want to add a personal touch to your images and place yourself in context, this type of photo is also ideal. A lawyer should be photographed in a courtroom, a chef - in the kitchen, a speaker on - the stage.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Creative professions
  • Coaching and consulting

7. Tilting Your Head a Bit

headshot poses head tilt

This is an effective trick you can use to get professional headshots. When your head is a bit tilted or the chin is slightly directed to either side – you will look more confident in a picture.

The head tilt is a simple male and female pose that will come in handy for those who want to add a gentle touch to their headshots. This pose is the best option for shooting real estate agent photos and will make a model look more confident and approachable.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • Real estate
  • Corporate
  • Attorney
  • Medical industry

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8. Modeling Pose with Hands near the Face

headshot poses hands near the face

With this model pose, which implies having your hands near the face, you can get a captivating headshot photo. Place the fingers of one hand on the palm of the other and tilt the chin to create a great modeling pose.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Modeling
  • Creative writing and blogging

9. Playing with Hair

headshot poses playing with hair

You can use this pose to add motion to your male and female headshot photos. Play with your hair and keep your hands motionless for several seconds, so a photographer can capture this moment. The portrait will look really lively.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • YouTube
  • TikTok
  • Haircare and beauty brands
  • Entertainment and media

10. Showing Emotions

headshot poses emotions

Most people think that a headshot photo must feature a person with a serious, somehow stone face. Partially true, but at the shooting, feel free to demonstrate your emotions.

Of course, you shouldn’t smile in every photo, but several such shots will be OK. The key moment here is to smile not only with your lips but with your whole body – it’s the main portrait photography tip.

Try to laugh when posing to show the good nature of your personality and sense of humor. Do not contain your laughter and focus your eyes on the camera lens.

A stance with both hands on the hips or arms crossed in front of you is ideal, as it will make you look agreeable and easygoing.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Comedy and entertainment
  • Lifestyle blogging
  • Event organization and hosting

11. Put Your Hands on Hips

headshot poses hands on hips

A person with their hands on their hips usually shows that they are confident and ready to tackle a challenge. Put your hands on your hips and focus your eyes on the camera lens. Make sure that your facial expression is neutral. If you want to appear self-assured and well-disposed, this pose is a perfect match.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Profile photo
  • Email signature

12. Looking Over the Shoulder

headshot poses over the shoulder

When you turn your back to the camera and look over the shoulder, a corporate headshot photographer can focus on your eyes and hair. Natural or studio surroundings will be a nice background for such images.

This pose works best for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Fashion and style
  • Modeling
  • Fitness and wellness

13. Leaning Against a Wall Outdoors

headshot poses lean

Being very simple, this pose results in a natural headshot photo. Stand near the wall and lean your lower body part or one shoulder against it.

One of the most important headshot photography tips is not to choose patterned or colorful walls, something plain will work perfectly. If there is a landscape in the background, blur it.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Creative arts
  • Freelancing and consulting

14. Shoulder Angle Pose

headshot poses shoulder angle

If you want to make your pics more dimensional, try the shoulder angle pose which can add some depth to your headshots. To mimic it, point one shoulder to the camera while keeping the central position of your face in relation to the objective.

This portrait photography pose is ten out of ten for those who want to look self-possessed but also emphasize their positive features.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Profile photo
  • Email signature

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15. Full Body Headshot

headshot poses full body

The full-body pose is the best match for those who want to demonstrate themselves in all their beauty. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, place your limbs naturally.

This pose is especially popular among those who want to highlight their personal style and attractive appearance rather than their professional disposition.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Real estate
  • Corporate

16. Fonzie Pose

headshot poses fonzie

The Fonzie pose is another great stance for showcasing your whole appearance in a headshot. Putting the weight on one of the legs, bend the other knee a bit. As for hand position, they should be to the sides of your body. Another option is to place one hand in the pocket.

By balancing your weight, you’ll appear to be slimmer. This stance is suitable for both male and female photo poses and allows shooting impressive headshots for any professional field.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Attorney
  • Healthcare

17. The Fig Leaf Male Pose

headshot poses fig leaf

This pose occurs when you stand facing a bit to one side and place one or more hands in front of your abdomen. This stance is well-known as the fig leaf pose.

As the limbs hang down clasped together, they create a V body profile, which makes a model look fitter than they actually are. As a rule, a photographer does not capture the hands, so you won’t feel awkward.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Education
  • Corporate

18. Standing behind the Desk

headshot poses stand behind the desk

Standing behind the chair or the desk is another great stance for either female or male pose. The subject won’t have to struggle to find the most optimal hand position, as they will be placed on the back of a chair. It is important to turn slightly from the camera to look more attractive in a pic.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Corporate
  • Business consulting
  • Legal
  • Finance and banking

19. Leaning In

headshot poses lean in

The lean-in pose allows for showing off a person’s character underlining their friendliness. To mimic this stance, lean toward the camera, but at the same time make sure that your posture is ok. There is no better option for emphasizing a subject’s approachability.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Profile photo
  • Email signature

20. Sitting Down

headshot poses sitting

Sitting on a chair is a perfect option for those who are looking for a relaxed pose. Try your best to keep your back straight and your feet should not levitate.

As for hands, they can rest on your lap, for example. In such a way, you’ll appear more welcoming and approachable.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Writing and publishing
  • Design and architecture

21. Sitting on the Edge of the Desk

headshot poses sit on the edge of the desk

Sitting on the edge of your desk and putting your hands on your legs is one of the best headshot poses.

Another option is to hide your hands in pockets but to achieve a more appealing look, a hand should be slightly out. Point your elbows to the side creating a more attractive shape of your body.

It is better to choose this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Technology

22. Sitting Behind the Desk

headshot poses sit behind the desk

While replicating this pose, a model should not hide their hands below to avoid the effect like they are growing out of the desk.

Consider the following variation of this stance: lean back in the chair, and support your body by placing the elbow on the arm of the chair. This pose is very popular because it makes a person feel relaxed and easygoing. However, it is not the best fit for those who need a more formal headshot.

It is better to use this pose for:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Legal and law
  • Financial services

Tips on How to Pose for a Headshot

headshot poses know your audience

Consider your audience. It is important to check the standards of an ideal headshot in your field. Provide a photographer with sample pics to make sure that you’ll like the result. Of course, you should not copy these poses in every detail, it is all about creating the same feel and atmosphere.

Be as relaxed as possible. Feeling at ease is the key to a successful photoshoot. Get rid of tension by taking a deep breath and exhaling. Your mouth should be slightly open and your breath should be smooth and natural. A sincere smile is important as well. Take a break during a photoshoot to reset your facial muscles.

headshot poses location

Appropriate outdoor location. The location for shooting outdoor portrait should match your profession and personal characters. The chosen areas should have good illumination to get excellent photos.

Identify your angle. Knowing your angles is crucial. To define the angle that makes you more appealing, tinker with the chin position, moving it up or down or in other directions. Define your 'good side' and remember that even minor details can either spoil the whole pic or make it perfect.

headshot poses outfit

Clothes. Select the outfit that characterizes you as a person and complies with your work style. More importantly, you should feel comfortable in it. Usually, people choose shirt with long sleeves for corporate headshots. Selecting the outfit that showcases your professionalism and personality is your primary task.

Speak with eyes. Your eye can express various emotions and is one of the best ways to establish a connection with viewers. Maintain the same angle and play with different expressions to achieve diverse results.

headshot poses hair and makeup

Hair and makeup. Put on clothes that you usually wear for work for a more natural result. Do not overdo it with makeup and prefer soft colors. Also, make sure that your skin is not shiny to avoid reflection. Apply a bit of translucent powder to refine your appearance.

Joint mobility. To get rid of stiffness, keep your joints relaxed. Otherwise, there will be much tension in a headshot, so finding the right balance in this case is of paramount importance.


  • • Is possible to look slimmer in a headshot?

Consider the following tricks and tips to improve your shape in a pic:

Choose the right outfit. The clothes should sit perfectly on a figure. Also, make sure it does not feature stripes or any ornaments, as such patterns can add a few kilos to you in a photo. Darker colors and solid patterns should be your priority, as they can cause the opposite effect.

Maintain perfect posture. Make certain that your posture is ok. Your body should be a straight line from head to toe. Keep your shoulders back and raise your chin a bit. Slouching makes you wider and spoils your appearance.

Adjust your angle. Shooting from a height can make you look thinner. Another trick is to tilt your head visually elongating the neck and creating a more appealing appearance.

Benefit from lighting. Harsh lighting from below creates undesired shadows that can add some weight to your figure. Prefer soft illumination from above to bring a focus on your best features and make you fitter.

Retouching. Turn to a professional to polish up your pic and get rid of a double chin or any fat folds. However, remember that overediting can result in a pic with an artificial flavor.

  • • Are standing or sitting headshot poses better?

Standing is definitely the best option as it makes you look thinner. Also, this position provides more opportunities for posing and allows you to play with hand placement, shoulder angle, etc.

However, a sitting pose is acceptable as well. Try to sit up as tall as possible maintaining a perfect posture to look attractive in a pic.

  • • What are the most flattering colors for female clothes?

Solid colors work best for this photography type. Opt for flesh tones or pastel colors as they are not distracting. However, they might cause a washed-out look. So, before choosing the color of your attire, consider your color type.

Such strong neutral colors as dark grey, brown, purple, or navy blue work well in most situations.

  • • Is black appropriate for a headshot?

Of course, black is one of the most optimal colors to wear for corporate shots. As it is neutral, it suits almost everyone. It is also a popular option because of the elegant and professional look it creates.

  • • Can jewelry complement a headshot?

If you usually wear jewelry at work, then yes. However, you should avoid items that are too big or flashy.

  • • What hairdo is preferable for a headshot?

The main rule is to keep things as usual as possible. So, prefer the hairdo that you wear at work every day. In your headshot, you should look similar to how you look in your workplace. In such a way, people won’t be surprised when meeting you in reality.

  • • Should I smile in a corporate headshot?

If you want to smile, do it naturally. Avoid laughing revealing your teeth and prefer a soft smile to make your facial expression milder and friendlier.

Bonus Tools

free tools for editing headshots

Check this collection of filters to refine your headshots by balancing the light, making the pics more personal, etc. This is ideal for outdoor and indoor headshots, making them more attractive without overprocessing, whereas overwhelming effects and filters can ruin the whole composition.

The greatest thing is that you do not need to be tech-savvy and have Lightroom image editing experience, as all you need to do is to install Lightroom presets on your mobile phone or PC and get polished headshots in just several clicks.