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Seven characteristics of great headshot photos


The folks over at recently published the results of a study aimed at isolating the characteristics of profile photos that influence ratings of competence, likability, and influence. The results confirm some suggestions that professional headshot photographer Peter Hurley has long espoused: accentuate the jawline and squinch the eyes. In total, the study revealed seven key traits of headshots that increase ratings of perceived competence, likability, and influence.


  1. Avoid eye obstructions (e.g., sunglasses, hair, glare, shadow).
  2. Squinch the eyes
  3. Accentuate the jawline
  4. Smile with teeth, but don't laugh.
  5. Dress formally with conservative colors.
  6. Use a photo of the bust (head and shoulders) or torso (head to waist) but not face-only or full-body.
  7. Avoid overmanipulated photos with obviously high saturation or with decreased brightness.


If you have a headshot that just doesn't measure up, it's probably time to think about getting a new one!

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