Smile with your eyes.
There is a very famous quote ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’. It sounds cliche but it’s true, it’s all in the eyes. For most of us, our eyes give away everything and show the emotions we are feeling even when we tried to hide them.
There are 2 key elements to a great headshot. The smile and (you’ve probably guessed it) the eyes! It is essential to have a real genuine smile that reaches the eyes to have an engaging and inviting headshot. The best way to achieve this is to be relaxed and at ease not only with yourself but with your selected photographer. Typically, a lot of headshot photographers follow the 3 S approach: Sit down, Shut up and Smile. As we all know, it’s just not that easy! It’s intimidating to have a camera in such close proximity and causes many people to freeze up. This is why you need to make sure you have a good rapport with your photographer.
There’s an episode of ‘Friends’ that always comes to mind when talking about smiling in photography – ‘The One with the Engagement Picture’. I highly recommend that you give it a watch, if you haven’t already seen it that is. Chandler and Monica decide to have a photo taken of the both of them to accompany an article in the paper to celebrate their engagement. Every time the photo is about to be taken Chandler freezes up and his smile turns into a grimace. It’s a common problem, when in front of the camera people tend to turn a little startled or stiff. It’s safe to say this is not a good look!
The ‘Duchenne Smile’ is a smile that engages both the muscles around the mouth and the muscles around the eyes. That’s the smile I’m aiming for every time. That smile creates the best headshot. A good photographer should be able to get that with every client no matter how camera shy.
As a headshot photographer it is my job to capture the best picture I possibly can. It’s vital to make the customer feel comfortable, loose and relaxed. They need to feel at ease with me and leave all their inhibitions at the door. I try to avoid asking people to smile knowing how stiff they can become, especially just after they’ve relaxed, and try to make them smile instead. This way the smile is much more natural and this will be reflected in their eyes. And always remember – Smiles mean business!