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Smile Power In Headshots & Portraits

How to capture a genuine, confident smile in your next photo session.

Your smile is one of your most powerful assets. The right smile makes you look warm, confident, trustworthy and approachable in any portrait. However, a forced or fake smile can have the opposite effect, appearing staged and off-putting.

Authentic smiles involve certain facial muscles that are hard to fake. Learning how to properly smile for portraits takes some practice but makes a tremendous impact. Follow these 10 tips to help capture a genuine, dazzling smile in your next photo shoot:

  1. Relax Facial Muscles Beforehand

It’s hard to smile naturally if your face feels tense. Take a few minutes prior to your session to do some deep breathing exercises and relax your facial muscles. Smile easily when your face is relaxed. Gently massage your cheeks, lips and temples to loosen up.

  1. Think of Something Funny

Recall a hilarious movie scene, joke or funny memory in your mind right before the photographer takes the shot. When something sparks that natural laughter, your smile will be genuine. Having an arsenal of humor stored up helps you smile on cue.

  1. Lick Your Lips

Wet your lips by running your tongue along them right before smiling. This prevents a tight-lipped smile and loosens them up to show a relaxed, open-mouthed smile. Keep lip balm or gloss on hand to avoid chapped or sticking lips.

  1. Show Some Teeth

Part your lips slightly to reveal your teeth when you smile. Many cultures find exposed teeth to signify honesty and openness. But avoid going overboard with a forced, toothy grin. Keep an air of mystique.

  1. Squint Your Eyes a Bit

Allow your eyes to narrow and crow’s feet to crease around them as you smile. This makes the smile more believable. If you open your eyes wide, it can look artificial. Keep your eyes relaxed.

  1. Maintain Your Smile Between Shots

Once you have your perfect smile, hold it between shots! It takes more effort to restart a smile from a neutral expression versus holding it. Stay animated and think about what made you smile to begin with.

  1. Take Candid Shots

The best smiles often happen when you aren’t paying attention. Allow some time in your session for relaxed, candid shots alongside the posed ones. Natural laughter and real emotion may come out.

  1. Show It in Your Eyes

Genuine “Duchenne” smiles involve the muscles around the eyes, like the orbicularis oculi. Smile with your whole face, not just your mouth. When your eyes light up, your joy is contagious.

  1. Have Fun With It

Remember that smiling should be fun! Don’t take it too seriously during your session. Smile often and move around. The more smiles you take, the more likely you are to capture natural ones.

With practice, you can train your facial muscles to smile brightly, genuinely, and on cue. Your best smile communicates the real, confident you. Follow these tips to turn on the charm for any portrait session!

Ready to update your headshot or your family portrait? The best way to get started is with a discovery call so we can best meet your portrait needs. Schedule a call online at the day and time that works best for you and we will call you back.

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Bliss portrait photographer

Carla is a portrait photographer located in Novi, Michigan. She is the go-to photographer for all your portrait needs. With over 12 years experience, her special skill is helping you feel your best in front of the camera and creating fine art portraits to enjoy now and for generations to come.

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Family Photography, Senior Pictures, Personal Branding, and Modern Business Headshots

Novi, Michigan - Northville, Michigan - Plymouth, Michigan and ALL METRO Detroit, Michigan.

23150 Inverness Ct., Novi, Michigan Call/text 248-924-9584 Email: hello@carlajacobson.com

Studio Hours Monday - Friday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM


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Bliss Portrait Studio, LLC, will never share or sell your information.