It’s All About Angles – The SMILE & Head Positioning

Over the coming months, I will share various tips and tricks to look your very best in photos, and each month will focus on ONE of 10 specific areas of posing, style, and photo shoot preparation. So let’s dive right in!

Ah, the trick to getting that perfect smile, tilt, and twist – all great portraits start with the face and head. I don’t know what it is about photos of myself, but I’m really self-conscious and I delete (or “untag”) bunches of photos. Besides dead eyes and fake smiles, that sneaky chin or double-chin bubble (see examples 1 and 2 below) is what really gets me, even though I know what to do in photos. But knowing little posing tricks (see examples 3 and 4 below) has helped me enjoy being in photos so much more over the years. If these tips can give me that extra little boost of confidence, I’m certain they can do the same for you too!


We don’t always have to smile for photos, but more often than not, it’s appropriate, and the last thing we want is to look like we are squealing “CHEEEEEESE” while clamping our teeth down. But there are some easy solutions!

I’m always asking my clients to giggle or give me a big laugh. When you genuinely smile (which you can get from a forced laugh), think about how your mouth and eyes react… your lips curl up on the edges, your teeth separate, and your eyes crinkle, or as Tyra Banks puts it, “SMIZE” (i.e. smile with your eyes).

Sometimes the laugh gets TOO big of a smile though, so that’s where the little giggle can come into play. But even so, some clients aren’t comfortable with forced laughter, so that’s where we try a different word. Who doesn’t love MONEY? Just thinking about having some can make you smile… saying “moneeeeeeyyy” gives a more genuine smile, because when you say “eeey”, all the important smile factors react perfectly.

Is your smile still feeling too tight? Try breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. I find that when I breathe through my nose, my jaw tightens and my teeth close together. When I breathe through my mouth, I leave some space. And taking a deep breath relaxes the whole body – BRILLIANT!

Sweet, we’ve got the smile down right? Now, let’s get your head position just right to go with that perfect grin…

Head Positioning.

When truly smiling or laughing – people tend to pull their face back and down, in towards the neck and chest… HOLY SMOKES – the dreaded double-chin. But we can fix this too!

Treat your face and chest as separate focal points – push your face forward and away from your body. You can do this by pretending you have a string attached to the the center of your forehead, and imagine that string pulling your face directly forward. It’s nearly a chicken bob feeling, and though you may look bizarre from the side, you’ll look the best in the group photo! When pushing your face forward, you become elongated, your face becomes thinner, and the stretch helps to hide any extra skin under your chin. Whether you are facing the camera straight on, or from a bit of an angle, you will push yourself directly towards the camera.

It is also flattering to turn your head slightly from the camera, instead of shooting straight on. Turning your head to the side slightly enhances the dimensions of your facial features. (A turn is bringing your chin from one side to the other.)

A tilt is sometimes flattering for women as well. (A tilt is pulling your ear down to one shoulder or the other.) Tilts are definitely a more feminine touch, however, so this tip is most definitely for the ladies. Ladies, what you will want to do is pull your chin into your shoulder (a combo of a turn and a tilt) while still pushing your front cheekbone towards the camera.

(We’ll talk more about head/face positioning in relation to the camera position in a later topic!)


Go grab a mirror and practice these techniques:

  • Practice a more genuine smile by:
    • laughing,
    • saying “money”,
    • and breathing through your mouth.
  • Practice the position of your head in relation to your body by:
    • pulling your face forward, straight on,
    • and try it with a turn, pulling your cheekbone forward.
  • Ladies, practice a tilt & turn, tucking in towards your shoulder, while still bringing your face forward. (Gents, why don’t you try it too, and just see how cute you look!)

Did you do it?? SUPER PROUD OF YOU!!

After considering all these tips, this was my final self-portrait:

Now go see what you can do!

Do you have any other tricks that work for you?
Please share your personal advice in the comments!


It’s All About Angles – Body Positioning


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