Headshot Photography Tips

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Let’s be honest, in certain directions and under certain light, most of us exhibit the dreaded double chin in some form or another. This issue is often the difference between a good headshot photographer and an average one. So what if you are a headshot or portrait photographer, how do you make your subject’s jawline look good? In this revealing video, Peter Hurley gives us some great tips on making anyone look good, just by accentuating their jaw:

So what are the secrets of a great jawline?

  • First with the subject square to the camera, get them to move just their head forwards and down. This simple action tightens the skin around the chin and with good lighting, will create sharp, tight jawline in the final image.
  • You will need to find the best way of communicating this to your subject. Peter’s technique is to tell them to move their forehead down and forward. Despite this you may find the subject still does not understand this, in this case, Peter’s solution is to stand perpendicular to the subject and demonstrate exactly what he requires.
headshot photo

The photo on left is a typical pose. The photo on the right involves this headshot jawline technique.

  • The next tip is to get the subject to move one shoulder forward and down whilst gently tilting the head in the opposite direction to that shoulder. The key light is placed to the side that the head is leaning, creating a nice relaxed look with a sharp shadow on the jawline.
  • Never drop the back shoulder in the head shot, this will instantly puff up the chin and jawline and giving that added ten pounds look.
  • When people laugh, they have a natural tendency to throw their heads back. You need to make them smile naturally but also coach them to keep the head forward and down at the same time. This is where all of the photographer’s natural charm and humor will be needed.
  • The last tip is for getting a better jawline in a side on shot. In this case you simply tell the subject to move his ears towards the camera without dropping the rear shoulder. Again this technique tightens the skin over the chin punches out the jawline.

So there you have it, a one stop solution for the dreaded double chins. They are simple, effective and will make your subjects look great.

For Further Training on Using Off-Camera Light Sources:

Check out Making Light I & II by Piet Van den Eynde; they take an in-depth look at how to get the most from your off-camera flashes. The author goes beyond sync speed and softboxes and gets into the details of working with multiple flashes, modifiers, and triggering systems. Learn how to fill in harsh shadows, balance ambient light, rescue fading evening light, or substitute for a complete lack of light. Very useful eBooks.

They can be found here sold together at a discount: Making Light I & II

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8 Comments

  1. Tinker'sRealm says:

    You are so Friggin Adorable,Infectiously Joyful and watching this made my day not to mention hopefully my images better- 10******************

  2. Arch says:

    Incredibly useful and insightful. One of the best posts I’ve seen on this site. Thank you for sharing this. Awesome video btw.

  3. James says:

    Great headshot tips Peter thank you for making and sharing this clip.

  4. Christine says:

    You are freakin awesome!! Enjoyed your video and that tip was so helpful!! I hate having my picture taken for that reason!! Thank you, thank, thank you!

  5. Tatiana says:

    Thanks soooooooo much! YOu are great!

  6. Sharla says:

    The blog was so informative. Loved seeing you point out exactly what you were talking about, then going back to the before and after image. Great job!!!!!

  7. Lenka says:

    OM Gosh!!! This was awesome! Thank you, Peter! Very informative!!!!!!!!!

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