2.5+ Million Headshots Generated (And Counting)

What to Wear for Professional Headshots

Knowing what to wear for professional headshots can make all the difference in creating the right first impression with potential employers, clients, and others you want to win over. Your outfit will influence whether you come across as someone confident, experienced, and credible in your field or someone who, well, just isn’t.

This guide will walk you through how to dress appropriately in different scenarios and, just as importantly, what common wardrobe mistakes to avoid to ensure you present yourself favorably and convey the right image.

We’ll also touch on why professional AI headshots can help you achieve your best look while removing all the hassle, cost, and time typically involved in preparing for your headshot.

What Are You Striving To Achieve?

The first key to dressing successfully for headshots is to determine what it is you want to achieve. It’s important to be specific as your goals are likely not the same as everyone else’s and, therefore, what outfits will work best for you will also differ.

For example, an entrepreneur looking to build their online presence will almost certainly need to dress differently than a medical professional requiring headshots for their clinic website.

It’s also important to consider whether you need headshots for different purposes and whether each requires a different outfit. For instance, perhaps you need one headshot for social media, one for job applications, and one for dating!

Write down all of your goals and the different things you need your headshots for. This will help ensure you make outfit choices that align with your objectives.

10 Tips on What to Wear for Professional Headshots

Okay, now that you have a good idea of what your goals are, it’s time to dive into the do’s and don’ts of dressing for professional headshots.

1. Opt for Fitted Clothing

Fitted clothing is more flattering and has a slimming effect in headshots, whereas oversized clothing tends to do the opposite and make you look larger. Additionally, poses for photographs can get lost in loose, baggy clothing, which can also be distracting and draw attention away from your face.

You want to have that tailored look, so if you’re wearing a blazer or sweater, it should fit nicely around the shoulders and arms. Likewise, if you’re wearing a shirt and tie, ensure the neckline is the right size for you to avoid any bulging or sagging.

If you’re concerned about wearing form-fitting clothing, it’s worth remembering that headshots typically only include the head, neck, shoulders, and upper chest. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about areas that can look unflattering in tighter clothing, such as the waistline.

2. Consider Your Color Palette

In most cases, dark, neutral, or muted colors tend to work better than bright colors. Navy blue, light blue, black, white, burgundy, gray, tan, and dark green are all popular choices when it comes to headshot outfit colors.

Ideally, you want a color palette that contrasts with your skin tone and doesn’t blend in with the background, while simultaneously conveying a sense of professionalism. You should also consider what types of colors are the norm in your industry and not deviate too far from those.

Bright colors might be ok for some people, such as if they work in the creative industries or feel it matches their bold personality. However, for most people, bright colors are generally better avoided since they can be distracting and may look unprofessional. That said, a bright-colored tie or pocket square in an otherwise neutral outfit can sometimes work well.

3. Avoid Busy Patterns

Solid colors work better than busy patterns since the latter can distract from your face and dominate the shot. Tight patterns should be avoided since they can create a distracting, blurry moiré effect when viewed on screens. Tight patterns to avoid include:

  • Fine pinstripes
  • Small checks
  • Small polka dots
  • Houndstooth

If you do choose to wear a patterned item, ensure it’s not too aggressive or distracting. Remember, you are not modeling the clothes; you want to be the center of attention, not your outfit.

4. Assess Your Industry

If you’re planning to use your headshots for job applications, company websites, or networking platforms, you’ll want to ensure the way you dress is appropriate for your industry. The goal is to look like you belong in the industry, even if you’re still trying to establish yourself there.

Think about how industry leaders, or your boss or colleagues at work, dress. If they wear a suit and tie, perhaps you should too in your headshot. Here are some different industries and the attire typically considered the norm:

  • Financial Services, Law, and Corporate: These industries typically wear business suits, button-up shirts, and ties for men while women wear business suits or formal blouses, skirts, and dresses.  
  • Tech, Marketing, and Startups: These industries tend to dress smart casual or casual, wearing jeans, chinos, hoodies, t-shirts, polo shirts, button shirts, flannels, and sneakers.
  • Healthcare: People in the healthcare industry usually wear lab coats or well-fitting scrubs, perhaps with an accessory such as a stethoscope, as it conveys medical expertise to the audience.
  • Construction: Tradespeople and construction workers often wear hard hats, high-visibility vests, bib overalls, and branded t-shirts or polos.   
  • Food Service: Chefs and other workers in the food industry often wear chef’s whites, hats, aprons, and other kitchen and restaurant uniforms.

5. Ensure Clothes Are Washed and Pressed

It goes without saying that whichever outfits you decide to go with should be washed and pressed for a clean, polished look. The last thing you want is to rock up for a photo shoot only to realize your clothes are full of creases.

Even the best outfit can be ruined if it’s all wrinkled and bunched up. Plus, it will make you look unkempt and unprepared in your headshots.

6. Casual Clothing Is Now More Acceptable

Dressing casually at work is more acceptable nowadays in many industries, such as trendy startups and tech companies. Even in industries that traditionally encourage more formal dress, such as financial services or law, where they typically wear business suits, you’re seeing many drop the necktie for a modern, smart casual look.

However, it’s important to remember that casual doesn’t mean scruffy. If you’re wearing a casual or smart casual outfit, your clothing should still be clean, in good condition, and well-fitted.

7. Avoid Old, Worn-out Clothing

While we all have our favorite tee that we love to wear despite it having seen better days, it’s generally best to avoid old, worn-out clothing for headshots. That’s because worn-out clothing can look scruffy and unprofessional, making it a big no-no for job applications and networking sites like LinkedIn.

Although old, worn clothing can sometimes be fashionable in daily life, when it comes to headshots, it’s not worth the risk of creating the wrong impression. People may perceive it as a sign that you don’t care about your appearance.

8. Be Careful with Logos

You’ll want to avoid logos unless you’re associated with them since they’re distracting and irrelevant. For example, opt for an unbranded button-up shirt over one sporting the Ralph Lauren logo or a plain t-shirt over one with a slogan.

However, if branded clothes are part of your uniform, they can work well and quickly inform your audience about your profession. An example would be a construction worker with a branded high-visibility vest or a barista with a branded apron.

9. Avoid Fashion Trends

Fashion trends come and go so you don’t want to wear something that may look trendy now but will be out of fashion in a few months. Instead, opt for classic, timeless outfits that never go out of fashion.

In a business or corporate setting, this could be a navy suit jacket and white shirt for men, whereas for women it could be a dark blazer and a neutral-colored blouse or a sheath dress.

10. Don’t Overthink It

Our final important tip is not to overthink it. You want to come across as your genuine self rather than create a false image of who you are. Therefore, you should wear clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in while following the tips above to ensure your headshot outfit is well-fitting, clean, in good condition, pressed, and appropriate for the situation you plan to use it for.   

Tips for Hair and Makeup

Equally as important as what you wear is your hair and makeup, especially since headshots focus on your head and face. Here are some tips for men and women to get these things right.  

Getting Your Hair Right

The key to getting your hair right is to stick with your usual style, but make sure it looks its best.

You don’t want to be trying out a brand new haircut or style right before your shoot since there’s too much risk involved. What if you don’t like it but it’s too late to change? Plus, your headshot should be authentic and reflect how you normally look in the best light possible.

  • For men, you want to be well-groomed. That means having your facial hair shaved or neatly trimmed and your hair recently cut in your usual style. If you normally use a hair product like gel or wax, stick with it for the shoot.
  • For women, wear your hair how you normally do and avoid getting a haircut for at least one week before the shoot. This will ensure you’re familiar and confident with your hair and will know how to style it yourself.

Final tip: Remember to bring a brush, comb, and any hair products you normally use with you to the photoshoot!

Makeup Advice

Men generally don’t need to wear makeup for their headshot session, though some choose to use a small amount to even skin tone and reduce shine.

Women should keep their makeup natural, opting for a matte foundation that blends with their skin tone, a concealer to cover blemishes, neutral eyeshadow, and lipstick with a subtle shimmer.

Also, it’s generally best to keep the colors of your makeup natural rather than use bold or bright colors.

What About Glasses and Jewelry?

If you wear glasses, you’ll want to wear a pair that’s not reflective to minimize glare. Glasses with a blue light coating should also be avoided as they can also produce a glare in headshots. You may need to remove the lenses for the photoshoot if you don’t have a spare, non-reflective pair you can use.

Jewelry such as earrings and necklaces are fine to wear but they should be kept subtle and elegant so as not to distract from your face. Some people may be able to pull off larger or flashy jewelry if it matches their personality or is part of their signature look.

How to Prepare for Your Professional Headshot Photoshoot

Here are some final tips to keep in mind for the night before and the day leading up to your headshot session to ensure it goes as successfully as possible:

  • Get a restful night’s sleep to avoid eye bags and puffiness.
  • Drink enough water so you’re not dehydrated.
  • Men should be sure to use a razor with a fresh blade to avoid causing a rash. Also, shave several hours in advance of the shoot to give your skin time to recover.
  • If you use an electric shaver, you can reduce irritation by patting baby powder over the area before you begin shaving.
  • Women should avoid waxing their eyebrows or other major face treatments to avoid redness or other unwanted surprises.
  • Bring multiple outfits, but be careful they don’t get creased when transporting them.
  • Be careful not to burn your face in the sun.
  • Women should ensure their bra straps do not show through their shirts.

Understanding Outfits in AI-Generated Headshots

We’ve explained in this article why what you wear can have a big impact on the effectiveness of your headshots. However, if you decide to use an AI headshot service, things work a little differently because you don’t have to physically wear an outfit or makeup since the image is generated digitally.

Instead, you upload some images of yourself to the platform, along with a text prompt, and the AI will generate dozens of headshots for you in different outfits, poses, and backgrounds, and in your preferred style. You can use what you’ve learned from this guide to help you write a text prompt that’s more likely to deliver the headshots and outfits you need.

Here are the advantages of AI headshots over other services when it comes to getting your outfit right:

  • AI is trained on hundreds of thousands of headshot images and knows how to generate the most flattering outfits.
  • You don’t need to go out shopping for new expensive clothes.
  • You don’t need to spend time preparing and trying out different outfits.
  • You don’t need to worry about getting your hair and makeup right on the day.
  • You don’t need to worry about washing and pressing your clothes.
  • You can generate an outfit that is appropriate for your industry.
  • You aren’t limited to a few outfits. You can generate as many as you need until you find the perfect one.
  • You don’t need to worry about glare from your glasses or the moiré effect on clothing.

If you’re interested in trying AI headshots and would like to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly AI researchers and staff here at Portrait Pal.

LinkedIn Headshots: The Ultimate Guide 

If you’re looking for career growth or to establish a professional profile on the internet, LinkedIn is a must-have social media platform. And like all social media platforms, LinkedIn has the option of uploading a profile picture—a headshot, with the primary focus on the person’s face. 

LinkedIn headshots are important, but it can be hard to capture one that you feel good enough about to post on the platform. Luckily, you have several ways to streamline the whole photo-taking process, from planning the poses to using tools that refine and tweak the final headshot. 

What are LinkedIn Headshots? 

LinkedIn headshots are a type of business photo taken for professional reasons. While these headshots can be uploaded onto LinkedIn, they can also be used on company websites, as the profile picture for your company email, on business cards, and even attached to your CV. 

Unlike selfies and photos taken in more casual settings like holidays or birthday parties, headshots offer a different level of professionalism. You’ll be wearing more work-appropriate clothes and the end-result will be high-quality, polished, and show a confident demeanor. On LinkedIn, headshots should also be 400 x 400 pixels and with an aspect ratio of 1:1. Trying to squeeze in pictures that weren’t designed to be used as a LinkedIn headshot can make the end-result pixelated, blurry, and low-quality.  

This isn’t the time to upload group pictures or awkwardly cropped out images of your face from full-body shots. Instead, you’ll want a headshot that has you as the main focus, is up-to-date, and is ideally showing the top part of your chest with the main focus on your face. 

Why are LinkedIn Headshots Important? 

Research indicates that LinkedIn profiles with professional-quality headshots get 21 x more views and 9 x more connection requests than profiles with no headshot. And if you’re currently job-hunting or want to broaden your LinkedIn connection network, uploading one should be a no-brainer. So why are LinkedIn headshots so important? 

  1. Instantly differentiate yourself from the other LinkedIn profiles that have no headshot, or have a low-quality one. This immediately makes you more attractive to recruiters or your future colleagues.
  2. Showcase your personal brand. Your image is just as important to your personal brand as your CV, cover letter, or portfolio. 
  3. Improve your credibility. With so many scammers running rampant on LinkedIn nowadays, having a professional LinkedIn headshot indicates to others that you’re trustworthy, friendly, and approachable. 
  4. Use your LinkedIn headshots for other purposes. Whether you want to post it on other social media platforms, create business cards, or update your employee directory at your current company, LinkedIn headshots can be utilized in many ways. 

How to Take a Good LinkedIn Headshot

1. Practice your poses 

Generally, LinkedIn headshots aren’t the time to try out new or more “creative” poses. Instead, keep it simple and straightforward. While most headshots are taken from the front-on, there’s certainly no reason why you can’t tilt your body slightly to one side so your face is taken at an angle. In fact, this can make the picture look more natural and relaxed. 

Decide what you want the headshot to look like beforehand. For some people, standing straight up with your face directly pointing to the camera is ideal for their industry, while for others, they feel more comfortable leaning on a stool, or table, or arm chair.

If you decide to get your LinkedIn headshot taken by a professional photographer, they may decide to direct you or give you ideas on poses. Feel free to listen to their advice, or chip in with additional ideas that feel more “you.” 

Ultimately, you want the headshot to show you in the best light—think friendly, relaxed, comfortable, and approachable. Incorporating some fluid poses or slight movement during the photoshoot keeps the energy high and removes tension from your shoulders, neck, and face. 

For LinkedIn, it’s completely appropriate to have a smile with your teeth showing or with your mouth closed. If you have the time, ask the photographer to take headshots with both options, so you can choose the one you like the most. 

2. Consider your outfit and backdrop 

As mentioned earlier, your outfit matters when you’re taking a professional headshot. Luckily, you’ll only be captured from your chest up, so you can really be comfortable and casual on the bottom half of your outfit. However, for some people, getting all dressed up can make them “get in the zone” quicker. As for the backdrop, this will also depend on whether you’re getting it taken at a professional studio or another location. 

Wear an outfit that you feel 100% comfortable and confident in. If you don’t do this, the feelings of tension or being uncomfortable can translate in the final headshot. Neutral colors, like cream, white, black, navy, or gray are always a safe bet. If you’re in a more creative profession, you can also play around with colors and textures, depending on the industry you’re in. 

If you’re looking for a more neutral background, like a plain color block, then consider getting your LinkedIn headshot taken at a professional photo studio or using AI tools. Otherwise, other suitable backdrops include around nature, in front of a nice building, or inside a relatively neutral lounge area. Most of the time, this backdrop should be blurred to not detract from your face. 

3. Balance professionalism with your unique style 

LinkedIn is the most professional social media platform out there, but it’s still a social media platform regardless. This means you don’t have to follow the cookie-cutter approach. Instead, feel free to make slight tweaks to your headshot depending on your preferences, unique style, and what you’re looking to get out of LinkedIn. 

Play around with lighting and the shadows on your face. This doesn’t mean shrouding your whole face in darkness, but rather accentuating key parts to tell a cool story. For example, if you’re a 3D artist or a graphic designer, you can add a subtle colored filter, which provides a semi-futuristic glow and showcases your creative side. 

Don’t be afraid to inject some of your interests into your headshot. For example, if you’re a lover of nature, hiking, and everything outdoors, why not get your headshot taken with the background of some mountains or at the beach? 

If you love bright or statement colors, don’t dull your headshot down to fit into the crowd. Own your unique preferences and you’re sure to attract the right connections and companies that align with your interests. You can wear a vibrant pink lipstick and keep the rest of your makeup relatively neutral, or add a simple pop of color to your outfit with a bright silk scarf or tie. 

4. When in doubt, leave it to the experts 

If the idea of planning the photo session, getting your pictures taken, and editing them all yourself sounds too intimidating, then don’t be afraid to ask for help from the experts—especially if you’re not a pro at photography or know anyone who owns a professional-grade camera. While they may be a bit more expensive than just taking the headshot by yourself, professional photographers and AI generators can yield the best results and are a worthwhile investment. 

You can search for photographers in your area who specialize in headshots, preferable for professional purposes. Editorial, landscape, and event photographers aren’t ideal as you want to get someone who has extensive experience helping people in the same shoes as you. 

Professional photographers can either take the headshot at their studio or on location. This will affect the total pricing and in some locations, require extensive planning beforehand. Generally a photoshoot can last about 1–2 hours, including taking some test shots and changing up the poses throughout. 

AI generator platforms make it even easier by generating professional-quality LinkedIn headshots for you, all without the need to leave the comfort of your own home. However, you’ll need a fair few existing photos of you to submit on the platform, and depending on the quality of these pictures, this can affect the final headshots. 

LinkedIn Headshots: Photographers vs AI 

There are pros and cons when choosing professional photographers or AI platforms to get a LinkedIn headshot. We’ve detailed some below so you can make an educated choice depending on your needs and preferences. 

LinkedIn headshots from photographers 

Pros

  • Top-end lighting, backgrounds, and photo quality is almost 100% guaranteed with a professional photographer. 
  • Get instant feedback and advice. For example, an experienced photographer specializing in headshots will have ideas on how you can pose, position your hands, or even how to smile the right way. 
  • Most photographers offer bundle deals, which also include post-image processing, edits, and minor adjustments. 
  • You have some control over how you want the final headshot to look. 

Cons 

  • You have to physically get dressed up, apply makeup, and make your way to their photography studio (or to a specific location).
  • Some photographers don’t offer money-back guarantees if you’re not happy with the final headshot due to the time and effort it takes for the photoshoot. 
  • You have to wait anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get the final headshot, and this is also dependent on the photographer’s availability and schedule.

LinkedIn headshots from AI platforms 

Pros 

  • Save hundreds of dollars and get a final headshot that looks just as professional as one taken by an in-person photographer. 
  • Generate a LinkedIn-ready headshot in the comfort of your home; no dressing up in uncomfortable work clothes, leaving the house for just 1–2 hours, or posing in front of a stranger is required. 
  • Save time and get a collection of headshots to choose from. Best of all, you don’t need to wait. An AI headshot generator can develop your headshots in just a few hours. 
  • AI highlights your best features and makes you look polished, professional, and friendly without the need for extra makeup, filters, or editing. 
  • If you’re not happy with the final result for any reason, most AI generators offer a money-back guarantee. 

Cons 

  • You’ll need to already have several images of yourself to upload—which isn’t ideal for anyone who doesn’t like taking pictures or doesn’t have any on hand. 
  • If you don’t upload good-quality images to the AI generator or follow the instructions, the final headshot can be warped or look “off.” 
  • Some AI platforms come with privacy concerns, which is why it’s so important to choose reputable generators, like Portrait Pal, to ensure your full privacy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are professional LinkedIn headshots a worthwhile investment? 

Yes. Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’ve got extensive experience under your belt (and on your LinkedIn profile), one of the first things people see when they view your profile is your headshot. These can include your colleagues, future employers, recruiters, and other connections you have on LinkedIn. 

And if you’re actively searching for a new job, looking to broaden your network, or just beef up your LinkedIn presence, then first impressions are important. A high-quality professional LinkedIn headshot can signal to others that you’re credible, trustworthy, and confident. And since LinkedIn is a professional networking social media platform, there’s no better place to put your best foot forward and invest in a headshot that looks clean and modern. 

How much should a LinkedIn headshot cost? 

Depending on where you’re located in the world, how many headshots you want, if you’re shooting in a studio or at a specific location, and other factors, the cost of a LinkedIn headshot can vary. Generally speaking, there are three ways you can get a LinkedIn headshot taken: by asking a friend or a family member to take one of you, paying a professional photographer, or using AI tools to generate headshots. 

If you ask a friend or family member to take a headshot for you, it’ll most likely be free. However, you may want to compensate them for their time and you’ll need to consider if they have a professional-grade camera for the best results. Using a phone camera can work, but if the end-result is blurry or low-quality, this won’t be ideal. Also, in most cases you’ll have to do the post-editing and processing yourself. 

If you pay a professional photographer, prices can go as high as $1,000 in the US, depending on the photographer’s experience, location, and session time. Also, if you want a really great photographer, they may be booked up several weeks or months in advance. In some cases, post-picture processing will also be needed, which can take up to a week to complete. 

If you use AI tools to generate your professional LinkedIn headshots, it’ll cost a one-time fee, usually up to $100. However, you’ll get to choose from a wide range of generated headshots, usually in a span of a few hours. Some professional AI headshot generators, like Portrait Pal, also offer a money-back guarantee for extra protection. 

What should a professional LinkedIn headshot look like? 

There’s no official rule about what people should wear or how they should look in their professional LinkedIn headshot; however, it’s always advised to keep it as work-friendly and appropriate for a professional setting as possible. This means an outfit that you’d be happy to wear to an in-person work meeting or networking function. Think a suit jacket and a button-down shirt for a guy or a smart blazer, blouse, or high-neck dress for a woman. 

Of course, this will also be dependent on the industry you’re in (or want to break into). For example, if you’re working in a more corporate industry, like banking, tech, or software development, then having a smart and sophisticated headshot is always a safe bet. If you’re in a more creative field, you can play around with backdrops, colors, accessories, and more. Have a look around at some of your colleagues’ headshots. What do they look like? You don’t have to emulate them completely, but it’s nice to know that you’ll be on the same page—although there’s certainly no harm in putting your own personal spin on things if you want!

As for makeup and grooming, simple is always better. While you may be partial to a full-glam look, save that for your more casual selfies or photos taken at social gatherings. In general, a clean and minimal look is recommended. And if you don’t have any professional clothes to wear (or you’re simply dreading the thought of getting all dressed up for a few pictures), AI tools can generate professional-level headshots for LinkedIn—or personal use—just by uploading a few pictures you already have of yourself.

How to Be More Photogenic: 8 Practical Tips

If you’ve ever been caught unaware at a social gathering and had your picture taken, you’ll know just how unflattering some of these photos can be. It’s hard to be photogenic in a candid setting. But what if you take the time to smile and get the angles just right—simply for it to look just as bad? 

Despite popular belief, being photogenic isn’t a trait that someone is born with. Practice makes perfect and you can pose, adjust, and tweak the final photo in several ways to have an end result you’ll be happy to post on social media. 

How to Become More Photogenic

1. Practice posing in the mirror 

If you’ve never taken the time to see how your face and body looks at different angles in a full-length mirror, now is the time to do so. When it comes to becoming more photogenic, the mirror is your best friend. You should have a deep understanding of what poses you feel comfortable doing and what feels most natural to you. After all, if you find it uncomfortable to strike a few poses in a private setting, it’ll feel even more uncomfortable doing so in front of a camera. 

Stand perfectly upright with your arms by your side and legs straight, facing the mirror. While this pose might be comfortable, it can look stiff or unnatural in a photo. 

Move your body from left to right and observe how this changes the appearance of your body. Do you prefer it if your side is fully facing the mirror, or does it look better when your body is only slightly turned? Which side looks best? 

Adjust different parts of your body to incorporate some flow to an otherwise static pose. You can hold an object in your hand, place one hand on your hip, run your fingers through your hair, tilt your shoulders back, or place one leg in front of the other. Observe how these micro-changes in posing affects how your body looks. 

2. Find your best angles and features 

We’ve all got facial features and parts of our body that we love the most. Showing them off can help you be more photogenic and give you a nice confidence boost. While you can’t technically “hide” any features you don’t love as much (especially in a full-frontal headshot), highlighting your favorite features will help to detract from them and shine a light on the areas you want the viewer’s eyes to get drawn to. You can do so with the help of styling and angles. 

Identify your favorite features of your face and body. If you need another opinion, you can ask the people closest to you. Perhaps you have several features that you love the most, like your eyes, lips, hair, and legs. The more features you like, the more you can play around with different angles and poses. 

If you like to wear makeup, now is the time to highlight these features that you so love. You can add a bold lipstick to draw attention to your lips, eyeshadow that compliments the shade of your eyes, or even add a colorful scarf or headband around your hair and neck. 

If you don’t wear makeup, you can still incorporate some styling tweaks. Comb or style your hair with mousse, hair oil, or a serum to bring out the shine and wear clothes that highlight your favorite body parts. 

Adjust the angles of where the photo is taken to highlight these features even more. For example, if you love your eyes but feel self-conscious of your jaw area, taking a selfie from a higher angle can make your eyes look even bigger and reduce the risk of a double chin. If your hair is your best asset, try angling your body to the side or slightly looking down so the camera can capture more of it. 

3. Soften your face and mouth area 

Whether you realize it or not, your face can tighten up and become tense around the mouth area while taking pictures, especially if you’re feeling nervous or inexperienced in front of the camera. By making a conscious effort to relax your eyes, mouth, and cheeks, you’ll most likely get a more natural end result. 

Remind yourself (or get the person behind the camera to remind you) to periodically release tension around your jaw and forehead. This will help soften your mouth and eye area while taking away that infamous “deer in headlights” look in the photo. 

If taking photos isn’t the most relaxing thing for you, try not to focus on how uncomfortable or stressed you are. Instead, inhabit a persona of a super confident person that you know, or imagine the camera is the face of a loved one. In this case, “fake it ’til you make it” is 100% the attitude to have.

4. Incorporate movement 

Have you ever met someone that looks great in real life but it doesn’t look as good in photographs? This is actually more common than you think, and it’s because humans are dynamic creatures that can’t be properly captured on a 2D printed image. In real life, how we walk, talk, and gesture can make us more attractive. But unfortunately, animated behavior is hard to capture in a simple photo. To combat this, try incorporating movement to be more photogenic. 

Have someone take a new photo every few seconds and treat it like a mini-photoshoot, by changing up your expressions. Grin widely, then smile with your mouth closed. Look down, then look at the person behind the camera, then behind them. Move your face at different angles. It might feel strange at first, but you’re bound to discover new expressions that you didn’t realize you liked the look of in a picture. Even if the end result is a bit more goofy than you’d like, it’s a good exercise to help you work outside your comfort zone. 

Next, you can try moving your face and body simultaneously as you get your picture taken. Rather than just standing in one spot or smiling awkwardly as the camera shutters go off, take the time to play around with the positioning of your arms and legs. 

5. Consider the lighting and background 

It doesn’t matter how well you pose, if the lighting and background isn’t ideal, you’re likely to get unflattering shadows and harsh beams of light hitting at awkward angles on your face. This can make your skin look sallow or sickly, wash out your features, and result in a low-quality final picture. 

While professional photographers love to take portrait shots with a clean and neutral backdrop, there’s no official rule about only posing in front of plain walls. In fact, having some interesting focal points behind you can add visual interest to the photo. Popular backgrounds include a nice piece of artwork, nature (like the ocean, flowers, or trees), or simply a cool street, building, or place. Plus, if you happen to capture the occasional passer-by or some other messiness, you can edit these out in the photo editing stage. 

Having the proper lighting is an underrated part of being photogenic. There’s a reason why social media influencers invest in studio-ready ring-lights or why photographers love to schedule “golden-hour” photoshoots. Avoid standing directly in front of or under light, including the midday sun. It can be extremely harsh on your features and even cause you to squint. Instead, play around with the angles of various lighting sources and intensities to see how that changes how your face and body look. 

6. Wear your best clothes and makeup

If you know you’ll be getting your photo taken, it’s ideal to dress up in your favorite outfit and tried-and-tested makeup. This isn’t the time to experiment with an avant garde outfit or try a makeup look you have just learned from the internet. Instead, to be as photogenic as possible, you’ll want to wear clothes and makeup that make you feel confident and 100% yourself. 

Choose clothing that highlights focal points on your body. You can even play with the proportions, texture, material, and color of your clothes to add more visual interest. 

In general, makeup photographs extremely well. By adding some blush and a lip product, you can make your complexion look rosy and give a healthy flush. Likewise, contour and highlight can sculpt your cheekbones and jawline. 

7. Think of something that makes you happy 

It might sound simple, but happy people often look better in photographs because they have an open expression, a smile on their face, and eyes that sparkle. To be more photogenic, try to think about a happy moment you’ve experienced or even laugh while you’re getting your picture taken. 

If you can choose who’ll take your picture, choose someone you’re comfortable and close with, who will give you words of encouragement and support you in your mini-photoshoot. This will definitely make you happier than being photographed by a stranger or someone you feel judged by. 

Remember a funny moment that happened in the past or think about your “happy place.” This could be around loved ones, on a fun holiday, or when you achieved something you were proud of. 

8. Utilize AI 

As a modern alternative to hiring an expensive professional photographer for your headshots, AI can make you more photogenic by helping you compose photos and edit out mistakes. In other words, AI can be a lifesaver when you want good photos in a short amount of time. 

Hiring a professional photographer (with a proper lighting set up and location) can be relatively expensive and time-consuming. If you find it overwhelming to pose for several hours to get that one perfect picture, AI tools can make the process more convenient and comfortable for you. For example, our AI headshot generator at Portrait Pal can create exceptional professional headshots from existing photos of you. 

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Be More Photogenic 

Should I smile with teeth showing or without? 

Everyone’s face is different. For some, a closed-mouth smile can look sophisticated while for others, having a bit of teeth showing through makes the face look more friendly and open. Practice smiling with both your teeth showing and your mouth closed in the mirror. Is there one you like better? You can also ask your friends or family members for their honest opinion. 

The type of smile you choose to have can also depend on the circumstance. For example, a picture for a more professional setting, like a LinkedIn headshot or a photo taken at a networking event may suit a gently closed smile over a tooth-showing grin. 

And if you want to showcase your raw emotions at a more casual event, like a wedding or friend’s birthday party, smiling with your teeth showing can indicate feelings of joy and exhilaration. Plus, when you smile with your teeth, your eyes often crinkle and the side and your face is able to light up in a way that wouldn’t be the case if your lips were closed.

Avoid the forced open-mouth smile though. The number one rule of being photogenic is having that natural appearance, as if you were in motion when the picture was taken. 

What should I wear if I want to become more photogenic?

There’s no rule about the clothes you should and shouldn’t wear, but it’s definitely recommended to wear an outfit you feel comfortable and attractive in when you know you’ll be getting photographed. This will depend on your body type, hair color, and any other accessories you want to pair it with.

Comfortable is the key word here. There’s no point wearing the most high-end, off the shelf outfit if it’s ill-fitting, or not your true style. It will translate into your poses, your expressions, and ultimately, the final pictures. Pick an outfit you’ve worn before (and you know you look good in) so you can walk into the photoshoot feeling confident and 100% yourself. 

Did you know that the colors you wear can impact how you look? If you’ve never done a color analysis before, it’s worth considering. The simple explanation is that certain “families” of colors suit certain skin tones and facial features better than others. For some, darker and jewel-toned shades can make the hair and skin glow while for others, spring-inspired pastel tones can make their features pop. 

Can I become more photogenic over time?

The short answer? Yes. Becoming photogenic is a skill that can be cultivated over time. If you’ve ever looked back at old pictures of yourself, you may notice that your poses and expressions have become better over time. This is because we’re constantly learning and adjusting how we smile and take photos, even if you aren’t aware of it at all. 

Here are some tips to become more photogenic over time: 

  • Find a friend or two that can practice taking photos of you (a professional camera or a good phone camera both work). You can alternate the environment or backgrounds where you take the photos to diversify your experience. 
  • Attend more gatherings or social functions where you know your picture will be taken. If you see the photographer, don’t hide from them. Rather, take the opportunity to practice getting your photo taken in a more candid and spontaneous setting. 
  • Play around with different hairstyles, makeup, and outfits to see which ones you feel most comfortable in and suit the type of photos you want to take.
  • Selfies, professionally taken photographs, and pictures that your friends take will all be different. Ideally, you should have some experience with all three to see the right angles and how your face and body looks in different settings. 
  • Use tools to get a good picture. You can utilize minor photoshop tools from the convenience of your phone, like facetune, to smoothen out pores or add a filter. Otherwise, AI tools can streamline the entire picture-taking process to ensure an end-result you’ll be sure to love. 

What tools or apps should I use to become more photogenic? 

With so many apps and tools at your fingertips, why not use some of them to make the whole process a breeze? Editing apps like VSCO, FaceTune, or Lightroom can be easily accessed from your mobile to add filters or minor tweaks that can transform all kinds of photographs in your library. 

And if you already have a lot of selfies or casual shots, but you want headshots for more professional settings, try AI tools, like Portrait Pal. These tools save you lots of money and time, and you’ll receive a number of headshots to choose from. Pick and choose the ones you like the most from the comfort of your own home!