7 Portrait Photography Poses That will Make You Look Great

Forget about those goofy office headshots. These easy-to-follow portrait photography poses will have you looking good in no time

Most people worry about how they look on camera. But while turning out a little weird in family snaps may be mildly annoying, looking bad in photographs for work can be more frustrating.

We all want to make a great impression among colleagues or potential employers or clients. But sometimes it can be hard to get the pose and the expression right.

Working with a professional photographer can make a huge difference to how well you pose. Portrait photographers will give you direction in how to stand, where to look and help you with expressions. They’ll also make sure the lighting really favours that particular pose, as well as your facial features.

But even if you’re not working with a professional photographer right now, there are still things you can do to make sure you’re posing for photographs in the right way.

Take a look at these actionable tips for great posing, put together by the professionals here at Dadi Precious.

Research photography poses before the shoot

Before you can strut your stuff in front of the camera, you need to do a little homework. Research the type of portrait photography pose you like – try visual discovery tools like Pinterest, Google Images or even your LinkedIn feed – and study the poses that catch your eye.

Pull a few of the poses in front of the mirror. You might feel shy (or ridiculous!) but this is an essential part of finding a photography pose that really suits you. Even Naomi Campbell doesn’t get it right the first time.

If you’re working with a professional photographer, take the shots you’ve researched with you on the day and explain why you like the poses. Your photographer will be able to advise you if they’re the right poses for your body and portrait style.

If you’re shooting solo or with a friend, stick the reference pictures up somewhere visible and base your poses on them. It’ll be trial and error but it will help.

That’s enough preparation. Now, for the perfect photography poses…

Portrait photography poses: the body

Strong shoulder pose

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The position of your shoulder can add strength to a pose.

While you may feel shy at first in front of the camera, try not to shrink into yourself mentally or physically. Stand up straight, take up space and use the position of your shoulders to add dimension to the image.

Experiment with slightly lifting one shoulder and bringing it forward while you angle your torso – this can create a sense of movement and will avoid you looking like a mannequin.

You don’t have to go the full supermodel, but find a way to use your shoulders to add strength to your pose. You’ll look like a more capable professional that way.

Looking for a portrait photographer in Hong Kong? Check out our website!

Red carpet pose

You might be thinking, “who wants to look like a celebrity in their professional portrait??” Answer – you do. Or at least you want to leverage celebrity photo secrets to make sure you look your best on LinkedIn.

For women, we recommend the classic hand-on-hip pose that most celebrities use on the red carpet. Why? Because having your hand on your hip ensures that you’re not squashing your skin against your torso. That that weird flat-arm effect can detract attention from more important parts of the portrait.

For this pose, make sure it’s your camera-facing arm that’s on your hip, not the other one. Otherwise you could look lopsided.

For men, there’s nothing wrong with trying out a casual hands-in-pockets portrait photography pose.

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A casual, hands-in-pocked pose can help relax you, whilst showing confidence.

Street-style pose

If you’re thinking of a portrait to go on your personal website or social media profiles, you might want to try out a full-length, head-on pose. Head-on shots can look confrontational if not done right, so make sure you adopt a pose that doesn’t smack of aggression.

One good pose to try is the so-called “street-style” pose, based on the kind of shots that fashion bloggers post on Instagram.

For this, face the camera head-on, cross your legs at the calf and jut your jaw out slightly. You’ll look weird from the side but from the camera’s front position you’ll have a stronger jawline.

Guys might feel a bit weird in this pose, so experiment with shifting your body weight to one hip and turning the other foot out slightly. This will give you a strong shape while avoiding that legs-apart pose that many men do in front of the camera.

If you’re working with a professional photographer they may well crouch down and take this sort of shot from below eye-level, to make you seem taller.

Portrait photography poses: the face

Relaxed-mouth pose

Having headshots taken can be even more nerve-wracking than full-length portraits. Many people feel on edge with a camera up close and personal; these understandable nerves easily show up in the final photo without expert guidance.

One tip that will relax your face even if you feel on edge is to open your mouth slightly. A tensely closed mouth can make your face seem wider and can make you look unwelcoming, even bored. Not a great first impression no matter what you’re using your headshot for.

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A relaxed-mouth pose

With your mouth slightly open you’re more likely to end up with an image that invites interaction from the viewer.
To get this pose right, imagine you’re just about to say something to a friend then freeze the moment.

Natural smile pose

It might sound like a paradox to talk about a posed natural smile. But smiling in headshots is a surprisingly difficult thing to get right.

A huge toothy smile can look forced and unprofessional. It also stretches your cheeks out to their maximum and detracts from your eyes, which should be the focus of the headshot.

That said, refusing to smile at all leaves you with a portrait that gives an impression of unapproachability. So what’s the answer?

The natural smile pose, that’s what. This is when you recreate that smile you use in social situations to invite interaction.

To reproduce this look, first decide how much of your teeth you want on display. Then practise smiling so that your lower lip follows the curve of your upper teeth – this should ensure that your pose is relaxed.

While you do this, try pressing your tongue up against your palette. You’ll avoid showing off a double-chin.
Still not confident in your photo smile? Check out these video tips

Angled face pose

You should only try a head-on portrait if you’re being shot by a professional photographer. Professionals know how to tweak the lighting to make you look great from any angle.

But in the wrong hands head-on shots lack shadow and contrast, giving you a distorted pancake-face effect.

To avoid this, go for the angled face pose. This means turning your head to show three quarters of your face while making eye contact with the camera lens.

Stand side on and tilt your head downwards ever so slightly to get this right – this means you’ll have to lift your line of sight up a little, which is flattering.

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Pro-tip: many people are paranoid about having one eye larger than the other. When you do the angled face pose, make sure the smaller eye is closer to the camera. This will even them out.

Elegant hands pose

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Relaxed hands, when done right, can add dynamics to your portrait.

And lastly, the elegant hands pose. Hands often get left behind in the portrait mix but they’re actually an integral part of creating a successful portrait.

First off, avoid those cheesy resumé photo poses straight from the 80s. No chins resting on fists! Instead, try to ensure you hands are in a position that reflects the portrait context.

If it’s a non-corporate business shot, maybe pose your hands with a tool of your trade. If it’s a suited and booted full length photo don’t be afraid to keep them casually in your pockets.

If your hands are on show and unoccupied, focus on keeping them relaxed. Spread the fingers lightly and make sure they’re slightly curved.

Portrait photography poses to make you look great – that’s a wrap

Choosing the right photography pose for you isn’t rocket science, it just takes a little insider knowledge. Professional photographers have a tonne of tips up their sleeve to help you find the right pose for every occasion, but don’t be afraid to try on your own as well.

Stay relaxed, focus on being approachable and try out our 7 poses. You’ll look better and, more importantly, make a better first impression.

How to prepare for Corporate Headshots? The ultimate guide

Corporate portraits are essential in portraying a good image of your company. It’s important to think about the message you are trying to convey and dress to match. For example, a law firm might opt for wearing a suit and looking more serious, whereas a creative business owner might prefer something more casual and fun with their headshot. Portraits help to humanize your business, whether it’s editorial or professional. Here’s a guide for how to prepare for corporate photoshoots; what to wear, your posture and other elements that will help give the best impression possible.

Two types of portraits

There are two different types of corporate headshots that are distinctly different from each other; editorial portraits and professional portraits.

1. Editorial Portrait

Chef Headshot

Editorial headshots are usually taken within the place of work. This is an original and creative approach, more interesting than a plain background, but is still considered professional. For example, a chef might have their editorial portrait taken in the kitchen, wearing a chef’s hat. This type of headshot is often found in magazines and online.

2. Professional Portrait

Professional Corporate Headshot

Professional headshots are usually done in the photography studio with a neutral background and special lighting so that the pure focus is on the subject. In terms of framing, the subject’s shoulders and top of the bust are usually visible. Office-wear can be smart or casual depending on the company and the image it wants to portray.

Professional portraits are often used by large companies to present their employees, but it is also used on social media sites, such as Linkedin and Twitter, and on CVs as a profile picture. Getting the right balance in a headshot is difficult, below are the main points to master in order to take a successful headshot that gets a positive response!

Important things to consider when having Corporate Headshots taken:

1. Your look

It’s important to think about what your best side is. Some people are self-conscious of certain facial features. Portrait photographers are used to hearing this, so don’t feel embarrassed to tell them that, for example, one of your eyes is bigger than the other. In this case, the photographer could angle you to one side so that the perspective makes both eyes look the same size.

2. Your smile

Most people know whether they smile with their teeth or not. Even for professional headshots, smiling both with and without your teeth work, so smile whichever way you feel most comfortable. A forced smile isn’t good and might even make you seem disingenuous. You should be able to recognize a ‘real’ smile through a person’s eyes. Top tip: think of someone or something that makes you laugh, this will both relax you and give you a great, genuine smile!

Great smile headshot

3. What to wear

Think classic.

For the men… Pick your favourite suit in a preferably dark colour, such as grey or navy blue. Bold patterns and colours, as well as shiny ties, detract from the face and can look unprofessional. If you don’t wear a tie, it’s best to wear a sweatshirt or jacket or some other kind of layer to break it up and stop it looking like a floating head!

And for the women… Choose a professional suit or a classic office-wear outfit. Don’t pick any bold or distracting patterns, however little pops of colour here and there can be alright. Avoid short sleeves if possible; this can look unprofessional and also detracts from the face. For jewelry, anything subtle and classic is a yes, but anything blingy or flashy is a no. We don’t want to notice your jewelry before your face!

There isn’t a strict rule for ‘what to wear’, so long as your outfit reflects your company. In startups, for example, a much more “relaxed” style has been adapted. Jeans, t-shirts, and trainers are allowed, the idea behind it is that you come to work dressed how you would in everyday life.

Half Body Headshot

4. Your posture

Body language is the key to looking confident. Keep your back straight and don’t hunch your shoulders, think about the posture a ballet dancer has but don’t overdo it or you’ll look too rigid. Don’t put your hands in your pockets or cross your arms, this is closed body language and will immediately make you seem unapproachable. Think about your company’s main values or morals and tell the photographer so they can try to help you portray them through your body language.

Good Posture Portrait

5. Hair

Don’t dye or cut your hair right before the shoot, this rule is especially imperative for men. Some shades of freshly dyed hair can look too vibrant and usually dull down about 1-2 weeks later.

6. Make-up

Lots of people ask whether hiring a make-up artist is a good idea. It is, of course, completely up to you. You want your portrait to be easily recognizable and you don’t want the make-up to overpower the portrait. A good rule of thumb is to think about what sort of make-up you would wear to a nice dinner out, where the steak costs $200 but not $600.

Corporate Headshots give potential customers confidence when seeking information about your business. It reassures clients that there is a real person behind the services you provide. To give the right, and a positive, impression, choose an outfit and posture that reflects your company’s values. Other than that, all you need is a happy and relaxed attitude to the photoshoot!

5 Important Tips For Headshots in Hong Kong

headshot Image

This post applies to both my portrait headshots and corporate headshot clients alike. There are countless photographers and options for headshots. Hong Kong is a super competitive market and having the right headshot can make or break your chances of success. Here are my top 5 tips for getting your headshot in Hong Kong.

1. Select the right headshot photographer.

HK is home to countless photographers, especially those specialising in headshots. Ah, the smell of capitalism! The sheer amount of options out there are daunting and at times overwhelming. Each offers a variety of packages, price points, style, and each has their own unique personality. Start by narrowing down your top 3-5 choices. Don't call them first. Before calling, take a look at their online portfolio to get a sense for their style and who they are. Also look to see if they can photograph both sexes well and/or can do photograph casual portrait as well as they photograph business professionals or vice versa. Additionally, look for testimonials, not only on their website, but also on social sites such as Facebook and Google. And lastly, does their personality seem to mesh well with your own? Do they seem fun or cold? If everything looks great, give them a call. If they're available and willing to take a few minutes to discuss your needs, you're likely making the right decision! If not, go to the next person on your list.

2. Budget is important, but don't skimp.

As my Dad loves to say, "Son, good ain't gonna be cheap and cheap ain't gonna be good." These wise words have stuck with me through my adult life and should be in the back of your mind when selecting a headshot photographer. Hong Kong is a really expensive place to live in. And if you're an actor, you may not be raking in the dought quite yet so you think to yourself, "Hey, I really should save some money on headshots." In my experience, that usually ends up with you getting headshots that not only you loathe, but headshots that don't capture the real you. Crappy lighting, bad retouching, and a half-hearted experience from a photographer who probably doesn't care if you succeed or not. Being cheap often ends horribly when it comes to headshots. Now that doesn't mean you should break the bank and spend $10000 on headshots, but it's generally best to avoid the $500-$1000 headshot guys. They're usually focused more on money instead of meeting the specific and often unique needs of their clients. Ultimately, it's your money, but don't end up buying twice because you want to save a few bucks. Make an informed decision; buy right and buy once.

3. Know what you need to convey in your headshot.

Preparation is key for a successful headshot session, but perhaps one of the things you must prepare for is actually knowing what you need to convey in your headshot. If you're getting corporate headshots, does your company have a friendly, approachable image(pediatrician, real estate agent, personal trainer) or do they have a more serious image (criminal lawyer, journalist, wealth management firm)? And if you're an actor, do your or your agent see you as the girl/guy next door, victim, witty best friend, criminal, strong hero, or young Mom/Dad? Knowing the marketing specific to your needs will allow us to focus solely on that during your session, ensuring we're moving in the right direction. Save yourself a lot of headache and time by knowing what you need to convey even before your headshot session.

4. Select the proper wardrobe.

I've talked extensively about wardrobe on a couple of occassions here, but it needs to be said again. Bring the right wardrobe to your session will make or break your experience. Don't bring your absolute worst clothes that you haven't pulled out in ages. If you're an actor, select wardrobe that matches your character type as well as is the most flattering for you. Avoid those frilly dresses, graphic tees, and generally frumpy looking attire. This is HK, so a bit of style is often expected and bad styling can make you look green in your headshots. Corporate headshots in HK are no different. Avoid those pinstripe suits, keep your jewelry small and simple, and make sure your attire is pressed before your arrival. If your wardrobe is properly selected, that'll be one less thing you'll have to think about. The only thing we want you to worry about during your session is getting the right expressions.

5. Go into your session with the right attitude. 

This tip probably should have been number 1, but I guess we're saving the best for last. So you've followed all the tips above and you're preparing for your headshot session. I know having your picture taken can be a nerve-racking, anxiety inducing ordeal, but it doesn't have to be. First, woosah and relax. Now, remember we're just taking pictures. I know they're super important to you, but we're just taking pictures. You won't be rushed during your session, I'll work with you every step of the way and we'll be previewing your work as we go along. Come to have a good time, be talkative, play the type of music you like on your phone, and yourself relax and trust your headshot photographer. A headshot session is a give and take between the photographer and the sitter. Trust them, their expertise, and their process. It takes two to tango as they say and if you give a lot in your session it will definitely show in your photos. Having your trust will give the photographer the freedom to play and create great spontaneous moments that capture you at your absolute best. I love to have fun during my sessions and I encourage you to do the same! Coming in with a great attitude and a cooperative spirit will ensure your session runs smoothly and is fun to boot!