A couple of weeks ago, Josh Michael Keith asked about squinting in his headshots. I had hoped I’d hear from some headshot photographers-slash-readers and — Yay! — I did. I actually received a few great emails.

Here’s the first.

Hi Bonnie and Josh,

About the squinting, I agree with Bonnie that if you squint when you smile then why not let that come through in your headshot? Just make sure your photographer gets a variety of shots so that you can choose the ones that represent you best. Also, you shouldn’t have to worry about your face during your headshot session. Your photographer should put you in a place of ease so that he/she can capture your essence and personality. If you’re worrying about how your face is coming across the whole time you won’t have time to relax and be yourself.

But there’s more to it! I noticed from your pictures that you’re blond and light-skinned. Do you also have blue or green eyes? I’ve definitely noticed that my clients with blue and green eyes are much more sensitive to light and therefore more squinty. If you let your photographer know he/she can make adjustments to help. I shoot outdoors, so when my clients are more light-sensitive I simply make sure that we start as late in the day as possible — when the sun is less harsh. I also adjust where you are standing in relation to the natural lighting and shadows. Another tip for light-sensitive eyes: Do not wear sunglasses the day of the shoot. It will make you more squinty when you take them off.

And about being wacky in pix: If you’re a wacky person and you’re being yourself in front of the camera then you probably won’t need to try too hard — your wacky side will undoubtedly come across in your pix. Personally I think it’s unnecessary to try and express your wackiness with an over the top outfit or generic “wacky” facial expression. I’d love for you to take a look at my website to see what I mean — all of the “wacky” types on there look like real human beings that just so happen to have a wacky side.

In short — squinty or wacky — if it’s you then let it shine.

Thanks for letting me go on about that!

Molly Hawkey

Second email.

When I have a headshot client whose eyes smile into squinty slits, I do a few things.

1. Reassure the client that they should smile naturally, even if it means slightly squinty eyes.

2. Adjust my lighting to maximize the catch lights, bringing out as much of the actor’s eyes as possible.

3. Encourage the actor to practice isolating the smiling action of the mouth from the muscles in the eyes. (I do this by showing them the difference between smiling “up,” pulling the muscles of the face upwards, and smiling “out,” pulling the muscles of the face wide — left to right, instead of up.)

4. Some people will naturally have more trouble than others — anyone with strong epicanthic folds is going to have squinty eyes no matter what they try — then it’s up to the photographer to make sure the shots still work.

Above all else, the actor should relax!

Nick Coleman

And the third email I’ll share on this topic.

Hi Bonnie,

I have to say I agree with you, if you squint when you smile and you’re accurately representing yourself in your photo then squint away. If, however, your eyes completely disappear or you agent tells you to “stop squinting,” here’s a trick.

Take the tip of your tongue and place it on the roof of your mouth, toward the back on the hard palette. Seriously, try it: squint then stick your tongue up there. Harder to squint, huh? Not impossible mind you, but harder.

Laura Buckles

Thanks, everyone! I love this community and the information y’all so graciously share. 🙂

Want to be sure your tools and mindset are in their peak form? Let us get you in gear with some FREE training right now!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001067.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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  1. NaLonni Madden October 10, 2019 at 5:50 am

    I am finding so many of your articles helpful right now. My headshot proofs all have squinty eyes…..except two. They are great shots but you can’t see my eyes which other than my smile are imo my best feature. But I’m going to make it work.


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