How to Pose for Professional Headshots (Updated 2023)

by | Jan 1, 2023

Besides how to dress, the top headshot-related inquiry on Google these days is “how to pose for professional headshots”.

We typically cover posing and expressions while working directly with a client during our photography sessions, but we’re also happy to also post our top picks for awesome professional headshot poses here.

As with many aspects of photography, the easiest way to explain posing is to just shut up and show you! So, we’ve included photo examples of some easy poses that business professionals can model for their sessions.

Before we jump in, we need to cover the basics:

  • Professional headshot posing should not be hard.
  • It should not feel uncomfortable, unnatural, or staged.
  • But, don’t get discouraged if one of your poses doesn’t work out – just try another.

The best professional headshot poses are those that feel natural to the subject — so that the client can focus on having a natural expression in their shots.

However, recent research shows that your body language can communicate a lot about your like-ability and competence. So, especially if your headshot is taken with your body showing, you should think about how to pose for your professional photos.

Not every pose will feel comfortable for your personality. So, make sure to try a couple different ones, and review the results in between shots.

While some clients have a natural bias against “posing”, as they feel it may make them look “stiff” or “awkward”, the right poses and the right photographer should have the opposite impact.

When done right, posing should actually make you look less awkward and less “staged”, as the right poses feel and look candid.

Alright, let’s jump in!

NOTE: Are you looking to update your professional headshot in the near future? Check out our easy guide on how to take a professional headshot with an iPhone (or any smart phone) to lear how you can take you headshot at home.

Nine Easy Professional Headshot Poses

Pose #1: The Standard

standard professional headshot pose

To start, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with using the standard headshot pose for your headshot session. Simply straighten your back, turn your chest 10 to 45 degrees from the camera, and lean slightly toward the camera.

Pose #2: Arms Crossed

Male Corporate Headshot Pose

Want to convey a bit more charisma than the standard pose? Cross your arms to create a powerful/tough impression on the viewer. A slight or full smile can help balance out the crossed arms to create a strong, yet friendly impression.

This pose is perfect for lawyers and corporate executives.

Pose #3: Hands at Hips

female professional headshot pose

A bit more fun than standard posing, placing your hands on your hips gives the viewer the impression of you being hard at work.

Pose #4: Over the Shoulder

female professional headshot pose

An over-the-shoulder pose is fun and candid. It creates the impression that the photographer “snuck up on you” for a less staged feel. This style is perfect for actors, models, or business professionals who want a personality picture along with their business headshot.

Pose #5: Play With Glasses (or Any Other Prop)

Male artistic headshot pose

Want to appear cool and collected? A couple shots with your favorite pair of glasses can do wonders for appearing thoughtful in your portrait session. This is a great pose for designers, artists and thought-leaders.

Pose #6: Lean Sideways

female lean sideways pose

Similar to the over-the-shoulder pose, a sideways lean against a wall creates a candid vibe for your headshot. When striking this pose, make sure that the wall is clean and brightly lit — a dirty wall will be distracting.

Pose #7: Lean In

lean in acting headshot pose

Leaning toward the camera while seated can be a great way to appear relaxed during your session. This posture is also perfect for clients who are hoping to hide a double-chin. (No judgement here!)

Pose #8: Cross-Candid

Female executive headshot pose

While difficult to get just right, a cross-candid pose can be an awesome asset for personal branding projects with consultants, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders.

The term “cross-candid” means that the photo is both candid (the subject is not looking into the lens), plus their head is turned “across” the camera. (If the client in the above photo were looking camera-right, then this photo would just be “candid”.)

While this shouldn’t be your main profile photo on LinkedIn, this is an awesome choice to use on a business website or in social-media posts.

Pose #9: Fists Up

fun male headshot pose

Okay, so maybe this is a niche headshot pose…but we just had to include one of our favorite crazy/fun poses from the past couple months. In all seriousness, this pose won’t be right for most corporate clients, but feel free to try anything your heart desires during your session.

After all, we only need a couple of awesome photos out of your whole set, so take a chance with some out-of-the-box posing! If you hate them, we delete them — forever. 


That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed this list of simple, yet effective professional headshot poses. Before your session starts, feel free to tell your photographer which pose(s) you’d like to try.

We’re always eager to hear any client preferences either before or during your headshot session. If you’re considering updating your headshot in the near future, head on over to our Individual Sessions page to see available packages.

As always, feel free to email us at with any questions.

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