Get the Best Headshot Photos by Learning to Smize

Seattle Headshot Photographer

When I’m doing headshot photos for each client, there are several factors that are running through my mind to make sure I’ll get the most attractive photos, but the most important one by far is expression.

All too often, I see photographers sit a person down in front of the camera, snap some pictures, and call it a day. There usually isn’t any guidance on how to hold your body, let alone any attempts to coax a genuine expression out of you.

This is why you should practice your facial expressions in the mirror and with taking selfies. Models and actors do it all the time, so practicing definitely gets results. Read the tips below, and fail-proof the next time you end up getting new headshot photos.

The Smize / Squinch

You’ve heard it under different names; Tyra Banks called it smizing, Peter Hurley calls it the squinch.

⁠Basically, your eyes should look engaged. What does this mean?⁠⠀

It’s the look you have when you’re actively listening, or focusing on something. Your eyes will narrow slightly, which can look like a somewhat intense gaze. ⁠⠀
When you’re doing it right, anyone looking at you can tell the lights are on upstairs because they can see that you’re actually looking at them or at something. Compare that with when you’re zoned out thinking about nothing, or staring off into space. The result? Not so pretty, because being zoned out tends to give you a vacant stare or blank eyes.

Hint: Your eyes look too round or too big when your eyes aren’t doing anything.

Add in a Small Smile to the Smize

My favorite approach is to have a headshot client add a small smile to go along with their now engaged eyes, because I want my clients to look friendly, and not necessarily like they’re on the red carpet. ⁠⠀
By the way, if you’re going to go for a smile at all, then go all the way–put your heart into it and go for a real, honest smile. I can’t tell you how many headshot clients “smile” for the camera, and all they’re doing is stretching their lips.

What’s happening at this point is that the lips are moving, but the eyes aren’t, i.e. they’re not crinkling at the corners. The crinkled eyes are what sell the expression as genuine. Smiling lips + no eye crinkle = a very obviously fake smile.

What’s interesting is that most people out there can differentiate a real smile from a fake fairly easily, despite not having been actually taught how to recognize one versus the other.

Jule Kim

Trackbacks & Pings

  • How to Prepare for a Headshot Session - Jule Kim Seattle Headshot Photographer :

    […] When you’re practicing, pay particular attention to your eyes. Make sure that your eyes look like they’re actually looking at the viewer or otherwise engaged in some way. What you want to avoid is a blank or vacant looking stare. If you’re smiling, then make sure that your eyes are also smiling, or smizing. […]

    5 years ago

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