PLEASE – don’t take my picture! …and how to get the perfect headshot anyway

Sounds familiar? Hate having your picture taken?

Chances are that you hate it – chances are that you hate being in front of the camera because a) you don’t like how you look in pictures, b) you feel awkward, c) you don’t know what to do, d) you feel everything is wrong with your face, e) you always close your eyes, f) …and the list goes on

BUT – 99.9 % of everybody else thinks and feels the same; and yet they manage to get exceptional headshots that they’re proud of and very, very happy with

What happened? Did they put on the superman costume and became perfect models in front of the camera? Of course not

They met a professional headshot photographer that knows and understands that having a headshot taken is not an everyday task and a task that can be frightening and nerve wrecking

So what is the magic formula? It’s simple, deal with one issue at a time, get it right and move to the next – only by doing so enables us to make a portrait / headshot that actually looks like you

I’ve put together a list of the most common issues to deal with in headshots and what we do together to remove or minimize them – good to know before your session and whenever someone – or yourself – takes your picture

What to do with…

…Watery eyes

Most often, watery eyes are caused by extreme tiredness or a high sensitivity to bright lights; we’re shooting in the studio, which is a 100 % controlled environment and that allows us to control the intensity of the light and minimize the watering

If the issue persists, lots of tissues will be used to remove the water; it might take a bit longer, but the perfect headshot will come for sure anyway

Also, water in the eyes can easily be removed during the post-processing of the headshots so watery eyes are never really an issue

…Double chins

If you stand up straight and straighten your back as much as possible, I’m close to certain that you’ll have some – or more – double chins; that’s how we’re built and that how our skin folds when we stand straight

That being said, more full-bodied people tend to have a bit more which shows up very clearly in pictures.

Luckily, we can avoid this – I’ve written a blog post earlier about the jawline and how to accentuate it, effectively removing the double chin in the headshot; you can find this post here: <link>

Basically, it’s all about getting your forehead out and your chin a little down; that will stretch the skin over your jaw and make double chins disappear or reduce them significantly – and even if this might feel as an awkward pose, it does not show in the headshot

...Crooked smile

A crooked smile that extends more to one side than another can be handled in several ways; one way is – obviously – to shoot non-smiling pictures but that is probably not the best solution

A better way of handling this is to turn your face somewhat sideways to the camera so that only one side of the smile can be seen – or at least a very reduced version of the crooked smile will show

By thinking of this, most people can actually also deliberately extend the other part of the smile more up, evening out the crookedness

...Eye differences

We all have a minor or larger eye difference where one eye is larger than the other – when shot in the studio with focus on all details; this eye difference sometimes becomes distracting

Eye differences can be handled in the same way as the crooked smile, by turning either eye away from the camera and watch how this effect the image

Also, squinting down the bigger eye is usually very effective (and yes, you can do one eye only, everybody can – if you feel you cannot, practice in front of the mirror)

...Full cheeks

When turning the head to any side, full cheeks may appear (much) more full which is not what we’re looking for in the headshot

To avoid this, you can lean your shoulder straight down, separating your head / neck from the shoulders. This works wonders


Having a professional headshot taking is hard work – it involves quite some time standing in front of the light, taking instructions and holding specific positions

This can get hot – if ‘normal’ heat is the problem, we have aircon in the studio J No problem

If you sweat because you’re concentrated and maybe a bit stressed due to the whole situation of being n focus in front of the camera, we stop regularly to wipe the wet away; no worries

After some time, my experience is that this goes away as you’ll get so much more used to being in front of the camera and thus relax more


Twitching can be seen on video. We’re taking the images here at 1/200th of a second and for sure no twitching can be seen

If the twitching persists over a longer period, we might have to take more images to get it just right, but that’s all – it’ll never show in the final headshot

...Oily skin

In the bright studio light, oily skin can become more accentuated, leaving unwanted highlights on your face in the images – for ladies, this is most often handled by applying a special studio makeup that reduces the shine / reflection of only skin to a minimum

For ladies and gentlemen, the light used can be softened significantly which also reduces the reflections of the light on the skin

Lastly, the post-processing of the images will remove the remainders of the unwanted oily skin effects


Basically making pictures without glassed leaves a lot more room for creativity and making various positions and angles for the headshot – so, if possible, I always recommend the headshots to be made without glasses

If you always wear glasses, you of course need to wear them in your headshots too and we’ll work around reflections and distortions made by the light, the camera and angle from which I take the picture


Easy. Don’t :-)

I hope you found these how-to’s interesting and relevant and can only urge you to go practice in front of the mirror – the more you feel confident, the better you will look in pictures; and the better you look, the more confident you’ll feel