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First impressions matter. And recent studies prove it takes just a split second to form one. What’s crazy is that when it comes to sensing levels of confidence, leadership, charisma, friendliness, and more… our split-second impressions are eerily accurate.

But here’s the great part: In photos, we can project the things we’d like people to perceive. It just takes figuring out how you want to come off and using a few psychological tricks to portray that.

Think about this for a second: Do you want to appear more warm and approachable, or cool and confident? Casual or professional? Creative or serious? Energetic or calm?

Everything you choose in your photos will affect how you come off, from the color of the clothes you wear to the way you hold your head.

Here are a few body language tricks I learned from body language expert Vanessa Van Edwards to make you (or your model) look confident in photos:

Large / Small

Using “small” body language in photos — such as crossing your arms, hunching over, or putting your head on your hand — can make you more relatable… but it also makes you appear less confident/powerful. The more room you take up in a photo, the more confident you appear… but it can also make you appear slightly less approachable.

Notice how these photos go from “smallest” body language and most intimate/relatable to “biggest” and more confident:

look confident in photos

Power Gazing

Looking directly into the lens is more powerful and professional. Looking away from the camera makes you or your subject appear more casual.

Bonnie body_language_headshots_3

The Head Tilt

Typically, tilting the forehead towards the camera will make you or your subject appear more feminine, while tilting away is more masculine. Tilting away can also appear more confident, so it’s not necessarily something women should avoid. But for most men, you’ll want to avoid tilting your head towards the camera.

This can be very subtle, as you see below. In the first photo, the subject is tilting toward the camera, and in the second he’s tilting away:

Bonnie body_language_headshots_2

Whatever you do, try not to force any of these looks. Simply place your subject according to where you’d like them (or place yourself), then start making conversation and keeping the atmosphere light. As soon as you see someone straining to hold a position or make something work, let it go and move on. It should look relaxed and authentic.

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