Should I smile in my headshot?

By Vijay Singh Khatri
April 4, 2024
#AI#Professional headshot#Headshot
Should I smile in my headshot (5)

Frequently, individuals grapple with a common query when preparing for a professional headshot: whether to smile or maintain a neutral expression. The unequivocal answer to this dilemma is a resounding YES! Smiling is essential, regardless of the occasion—be it a professional headshot, a wedding, or any other joyous event.

Key Highlights:

  • Importance of Smiling: Emphasizes smiling's important role in professional headshots for positive perception.

  • Emotional Significance: Explores smile's conveyance of reward, success, and positivity in photography.

  • Benefits of Smiling: Highlights advantages like attractiveness and mood enhancement in headshots.

  • Tailoring Smiles: Discusses adjusting smiles for various contexts, from LinkedIn to corporate settings.

  • Tips to Avoid Awkwardness: Offers practical advice for achieving natural smiles in headshots.

  • Mental Health Perspective: Touches on smiling's psychological benefits for overall well-being.

A smile serves as a pivotal aspect of personal expression, conveying much about an individual. Consequently, when opting for a professional headshot, it is crucial to don a confident smile. Your smile not only enhances the overall appeal of the photograph but also reflects a positive and approachable demeanor.


The power of a smile extends far beyond what meets the eye. In this blog, we'll uncover how a genuine smile in your professional headshot can significantly boost your career prospects. Let's dive in!

What Can A Smile Mean In A Professional Headshot?

Research indicates that a smile on your face reflects three key emotions:  

  • Rewarding - A smile suggests a sense of fulfillment, indicating contentment with your knowledge and experience. It signifies your readiness for new challenges, showcasing confidence in presenting your skills.

  • Success - A smile in your headshot conveys approachability, suggesting that you are friendly and easy to engage with. Successful individuals often share their valuable insights with a smile during meetings, creating an inviting atmosphere. Being in the same room with them naturally fosters a sense of attentiveness and receptiveness to their ideas

  • Contagious - You might have heard “her smile is contagious,” “his smile can light up the whole room.” Well, that doesn’t imply he has bright white teeth. What it signifies is that a smile can change someone’s mood for the better. People tend to notice people who smile more. A smile in your professional headshot can bring you up in the spotlight, and viewers who see your portfolio might unconsciously smile, too

Benefits Of Smiling In A Headshot 

Enhances your attractiveness Have you ever taken a photo only to realize later that something seems amiss, and you realize it's the absence of a smile? In my experiment, I observed a remarkable difference in how people connected with and expressed interest in me when I wore a genuine smile.


Smile Will Cheer You Up When you are going for a headshot, you might be having a hectic day, or you could be angry at something. In those cases, a smile can hide all these emotions to give your face a look more energetic and warm.

It makes you look younger A startup founded by college graduates in their early 20s has secured millions of dollars in funding. They have an opening that aligns perfectly with your skills and offers an attractive salary. In such opportunities, it's important to appear youthful, adapt to the environment, and secure the position.


A smile can impart a youthful appearance in professional headshots. The muscles engaged while smiling naturally lift the face, contributing to a more rejuvenated look. Therefore, opting to smile is preferable to attempting a facelift in headshots

How To Smile For A LinkedIn Headshot? 

LinkedIn headshots require you to look appropriate for the company to which you are applying. So, if you are working in a more laid-back industry, in that case, you must show your smile to showcase that you understand the culture and the work environment that is needed in the company.


Conversely, in a corporate environment where formality prevails, maintaining a subtle smile is often more appropriate. Here, it's essential to tone down any overtly creative or humorous expressions. Your smile should exude confidence and convey seriousness, reflecting your capability to accomplish tasks effectively.

Tips To Avoid Awkward Smile

Don't Overthink It

One of the key things to avoid is overthinking. Smiling comes naturally to us; it's something we've been doing since birth. Your facial muscles know the drill, so there's no need to stress over it. The best approach for a professional headshot is to relax and let yourself laugh naturally. Feel free to start with a big, fake laugh. Surprisingly, a genuine smile often follows. It's a simple yet effective technique that lends authenticity to your smile.

Smile As Wide As You Can

Imagine starting with a grumpy expression and gradually stretching your smile as wide as possible. This simple technique is often employed by photographers to elicit a natural smile for headshots. Attempting to maintain a grumpy expression for more than 10 seconds almost invariably results in a spontaneous and genuine smile

Make Your Eyes Do The Trick

When smiling, many inadvertently squint their eyes, reducing them to a single line. While this may result in a pleasing smile, it can overshadow the importance of your eyes. Aim for a harmonious balance between the width of your smile and the natural appearance of your eyes in your headshots, ensuring a more authentic and engaging portrayal for viewers.


Smile At The Camera 

Don’t make the mistake of smiling at the photographer; your smile has to be in front and center of the camera. You should do this exercise where you first need to look at yourself in the mirror; when you are doing it, lift your eyebrows to make a semi-circle, and both the corners of your mouth are tilted upward from your cheekbones.

Wrapping Up

To wrap up, we'd like to emphasize one crucial point: a smile acts as a natural antidepressant. The more you smile, the better your mental health tends to be, enabling you to prioritize what truly matters, including maintaining a bright and engaging smile in your headshot.

If you have any additional insights or thoughts to share, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Why is smiling important in professional headshots?

Smiling enhances personal expression, conveys positivity, and fosters a friendly and approachable image, all valuable in professional settings.

2. How can I achieve a natural smile in my headshot?

Relaxation techniques, facial exercises, and focusing on the eyes can help evoke a genuine and authentic smile during photography sessions.

3. Is there a difference in smiling expressions for different industries?

Yes, the appropriateness of smiling expressions varies based on industry and context. For instance, a more laid-back industry like tech may welcome broader smiles, while corporate environments may require a subtler approach.

4. Can smiling in professional headshots impact career prospects?

A genuine smile can enhance attractiveness, mood, and perceived competence, positively influencing career opportunities and networking outcomes.

5. How can I ensure my smile looks natural in headshots?

Practice smiling naturally in front of a mirror, focus on lifting the eyebrows and tilting the corners of the mouth upward, and aim for a harmonious balance between the smile and the eyes for a genuine expression.

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