Yes, you can smile in a professional headshot. However, really, there are no rules. It really depends on the purpose of the photo and the energy, or vibe, that you want to convey.

From "no" smile to a "full" smile in a headshot photo?

Professional headshots can have smiles with teeth, or without teeth. Or, perhaps just a hint of a smile. Your headshot can have a smile, no smile, or the expression, that makes you feel comfortable.

That said, one thing is for sure, I won't be taking headshots with a forced, fake, or disingenuous expressions.

If there is going to be a smile in your professional headshot, it will be a real smile.


Example of a professional headshot WITHOUT a smile

professional headshot without a smile

 Example of a professional headshot WITH a "hint" of smile

hint of a smile peter istvan photography

Example of a professional headshot WITH a smile

example of a smile in a professional headshot

  Example of a professional headshot WITH a "full" smile

full smile peter istvan photography


What does Science say about smiles?

In the early 1990's, researchers studied smiles and published their two main findings in European Journal of Social Psychology:

  1. Smiling increases attractiveness compared to a non‐smiling neutral expression
  2. Smiling subjects are attributed greater degrees of sincerity, sociability, and competence.

In 2014, another research analysis was conducted to compare perceptions of "Duchenne" smiles. Guillaume Duchenne, is a French neurologist who identified two distinct types of smiles.  

  • Duchene smiles: smiles that include activation of the cheek muscles that creates crow's feet around the eyes
  • Non-Duchenne smiles: smiles without the activation of the cheek muscles and only the corners of the mouth are raised

Bottom line for the research:

"Duchenne smiles are rated more positively (i.e., authentic, genuine, real, attractive, trustworthy) than non-Duchenne smiles and people producing non-Duchenne smiles"


If you are considering a professional headshot for yourself, the next step is to find the right photographer for you.

How to choose a headshot photographer

Consider factors such as:

  1. How long have they been a photographer?
  2. Do they have a studio?
  3. Do they primarily focus on headshots?
  4. Does their previous work appeal to you? 
  5. Reading reviews from previous clients (e.g. Google Reviews)

The right photographer will make your professional headshot experience comfortable, relaxed, and fun, resulting in awesome and genuine images that you love.


Best ways to use a professional headshot

A frequent question: How many headshots do I need? 

Well, there are many different ways to use your professional headshot and it depends on the purpose and/or what message you are trying convey with your image.


 behind the scenes with Peter Istvan Photography


Feel free to call/text phone call so that I can explain the process and answer any of your questions. It will be quick and efficient. 705 774 8560. You can schedule a session in my studio, where I specialize in professional headshots.

Read some other general questions about headshots.


FREE | Download a PDF of tips on how you can prepare for your next headshot, no matter where you go!

Peter Istvan Photography

Peter is a professional headshot photographer. Available in studio, or on location. Serving Parry SoundMuskokaSudburyNorth Bay, Barrie, Toronto, and surrounding areas. View pricing and scheduling.

November 03, 2021 — Peter Istvan