How to smile for the camera

You need a professional portrait, but you hate cameras because you don't like your smile.  As professional portrait photographers who have photographed 1,000's of people, we find that this is one of the the biggest causes of anxiety for our clients.  Let's face it, being photographed by a professional photographer isn't something that you do every day unless you are a model!  It's no wonder then that achieving a genuine expression and natural smile while in front of a camera can feel intimidating.  To this we say - take heart!!  Just like anything you only do occasionally, it simply takes a little practise and helpful coaching to learn how to smile for the camera.


1. Come to the session with a positive attitude.  Feel confident that you are going to get a great result as you are in the hands of expert professionals. If you start the session with 'Oh my God I hate photos', this will actually work against you and prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy!  This will also prolong the photography session as the photographer will spend more time with you to help you relax.

2. Stand or sit in a comfortable position while maintaining a good posture.  If your photographer has placed you in a pose that feels uncomfortable let them know.

3. Relax.  Take a deep breath and exhale slowly to soften your muscles around your jaw, neck and shoulders.

4. It's important to know that what you're thinking about actually comes through your eyes and your expression.  It's therefore very important to cast your thoughts towards positive things in your life.  These could include: spending time with a person you love; a favourite holiday destination / an upcoming holiday; something you love doing in your spare time; sitting on the beach watching the sunset, or your favourite 'happy place'!

5. Think about what a great person you are, and how fun you are to be with!

6. Think about a funny situation that made you laugh, a funny 'line' from a movie, your favourite comedian or your favourite comedy show.

7. Saying the word 'yes' with genuine enthusiasm is a very helpful way for your mouth to form into a natural smile, while also making your eyes sparkle.

8. Apart from saying 'yes' try not to talk too much while being photographed.  Keep breathing and thinking only positive thoughts.

9. If your mouth starts feeling tense or 'fake', stop for a minute and let your muscles relax.  Look away from the camera and talk about other things. Give your arms & shoulders a little shake.  Then refocus your mind onto the positive thoughts, relax with a deep breath.

10. Spend a little time in front of the mirror to practise your smile. Remember how a 'good smile' feels.

Some additional considerations:

  • At Brisbane Headshots we will show you the photos on the camera during the shoot, so you will have an immediate reference to how your smile looks.
  • Know that we take a good number of photos, so there's no pressure to get it 'exactly right' within 2 minutes.
  • We will also photograph you from different angles, as faces are never truly symmetrical so you may have a 'better side'.
  • If you are uncomfortable with your smile because you don't like your teeth/eyes/mouth, we have expert digital retouchers who can work their magic - which is far less painful or expensive than surgery!

Above all, remember:

Everyone's smile is different, and you are a unique individual!  We are our own worst critics, but the truth is that your smile doesn't have to be 'model perfect', it just needs to be YOU!


smiling faces

paul sargaison photographer

Paul Sargaison


Elysia web square

Elysia Roach


The Powder Room

Hair & Makeup Team

Copyright 2014 by Brisbane Headshots

1/98 Merthyr Road
New farm Brisbane 4005
Phone 07 32541789