As a headshot photographer who has shot thousands of faces, I’m telling you straight out that not all smiles are created equal. Anyone can smile in their headshot but most look forced, fake, or disingenuous. Why do we care? Well, there’s an authenticity that should be in your business headshots; an authenticity that others are looking to see. Who are those other people? They’re your business partners and clients.

Understanding Smiles

You know, people often think they’re delivering a genuine smile, but in reality, it’s not as straightforward as it seems. Most people when stepping in front of a camera are expected to smile, try to do so, and give off what’s known as a social smile. While the mouth changes, the eyes don’t and no real emotion or connection is put forward. It’s a polite and scripted feeling, especially in a headshot where there is no movement to counter it. What’s worse is that they may not even realize it.

This is where the Duchenne smile steps in. Coined after Guillaume Duchenne, a French researcher, this smile isn’t just about the mouth – it’s about the eyes too. It’s a genuine expression that involves your whole face, reflecting true emotions.

How a Duchenne Smile Makes People Feel

Through my lens, I’ve seen smiles that brighten up a room, and then there are those that feel a bit forced. When you genuinely smile, it’s not just about the visual – it’s about the positive vibes that resonate. It makes others feel good too. When your smile comes from a place of authenticity, it’s a magnetic force that draws people in. It’s less about perfect angles and rather about real emotions.

Importance of Real Smiles in Business Headshots

Headshots aren’t just about putting on professional attire and documenting what you look like; it’s about being approachable and genuine. This is where the real smiles are important. They go beyond the surface and say, “I’m competent, and I’m relatable.”

When I work with clients, I emphasize the impact of authenticity. That authenticity adds depth to your image, conveying that you’re not just a professional, but also someone others can connect with. When your smile is genuine, it invites others to engage on a deeper level – a vital tool in client and colleague interactions.

Achieving a real (Duchenne) Smile

So, how do you capture that genuine smile? Some actors can do this on command but most of us are not actors. I work with people in my studio to get them past those trite “say cheese” type expressions. Often it just takes conversation, time, some nudging, and some guidance on my part. If you can hold a conversation we have a real chance of getting there.

As a headshot photographer, the Duchenne smile has proven its power time and again. It’s a reflection of authenticity that transcends a simple headshot and resonates with your prospective clients. So, when you’re considering your next headshot, remember – your smile isn’t just a photo pose; it’s an invitation to connect, authentically and professionally.

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