Itty bitty expressions can make a difference

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In conjunction with the headshot giveaway that I have been running all month (have you entered?!) I have been sharing a heap of information over on Instagram about headshots in general. 

One of the most important tips is about the power of micro-expressions. When we are face-to-face with someone we intuitively take in so much visual input about body language and expression. This data helps us to decide whether we like or trust someone.

Getting to know someone via a photograph is both similar and different. We still instinctively want to gather this information but because it's a photo we can only get so much. But we still look! 

Even looking at a photo your brain processes the image 70,000 times faster than it does text. You are instinctively looking at body language cues.

Body language? In a headshot? What the? Yep. Let's take a look at these examples. Oh, but before I dig in I wanted to say.. there is no wrong or right here. It is merely a question of what the message is that you want to convey with your headshot. Your personality, career and target audience will all be different, and you should be conscious of that when you think about your expressions. Most of my clients want to appear professional, friendly, trustworthy and confident. But, if you want to seem more assertive and tough or contrastly more playful and cute then you need to adjust accordingly. 


Not all smiles were created equal and we can instantly read that in photos as well as we do in person. 

These three photos show you the key difference in a 'simple smile' and why it's important not to just say 'cheese'. The one-sided smirk is one of the 'mistakes' I see most. People can often think it's cute or a little cheeky. But the trouble with this is that in a headshot this smile comes across as more aggressive than friendly and welcoming. 

Our highly built body language skils also mean that we can 'feel' a fake smile a way off. A full, even, open-mouthed smile is most genuine, but only when it reaches your eyes as well. Don't shy away from any 'wrinkles' that come with a proper smile, they are the viewers signal that this is an honest smile, and this is a person I can be open with and trust. 

Body language

Even though we are talking just headshots the posing and camera angle makes such a difference to the message being sent

By turning your shoulders away from the camera you are coming across less agressive than straight on. This can be good if you want to be seen as more reserved or circumspect. But this pose can also seem less confident or open. 

Positioning the camera ange from below is not often used (hello less flattering) but is a powerful pose for being seen as more confident and capable. In contrast is the 'from above' angle which we all love because it's more flattering. It brings the eyes forward and body away. This pose however is good to look 'young' but with that comes the other assumptions of youth ie. inexperience or demure. 

Again, none of these poses are necessarily wrong or right, it's just important to keep them in mind when you are having your photograph taken so you can make sure that you are sending exactly the right message! 

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