It’s All About the … Jawline!

Taking good photos of people is not easy. So, my photo group had an educational meeting last month to learn some techniques then we practiced by taking photos of each other. It was a lot of fun – and very educational. I won’t upload the photos here due to privacy issues but wanted to share the videos with you.

YouTube has a ton of videos on the subject and some of the best are by Peter Hurley. Peter is a New York and Los Angeles based photographer specializing in advertising and commercial work. As Nicoal Price wrote in her article “Headshot Photography Techniques” on

One key directive that Hurley uses with all models is to bring the jaw forward. Drawing the chin forward tightens the skin on the jaw and neck to flatter all face types.

Hurley has an informative video on YouTube that shows us how to accentuate the jawline. It’s called “All About the Jaw” and you can watch it here:

A good summary of his tips comes from’s article “Headshot Photography Tips” by Jason R:


  • First with the subject square to the camera, get them to move just their head forwards and down. This simple action tightens the skin around the chin and with good lighting, will create sharp, tight jawline in the final image.
  • You will need to find the best way of communicating this to your subject. Peter’s technique is to tell them to move their forehead down and forward. Despite this you may find the subject still does not understand this, in this case, Peter’s solution is to stand perpendicular to the subject and demonstrate exactly what he requires.
  • The next tip is to get the subject to move one shoulder forward and down whilst gently tilting the head in the opposite direction to that shoulder. The key light is placed to the side that the head is leaning, creating a nice relaxed look with a sharp shadow on the jawline.
  • Never drop the back shoulder in the head shot, this will instantly puff up the chin and jawline and giving that added ten pounds look.
  • When people laugh, they have a natural tendency to throw their heads back. You need to make them smile naturally but also coach them to keep the head forward and down at the same time. This is where all of the photographer’s natural charm and humor will be needed.
  • The last tip is for getting a better jawline in a side on shot. In this case you simply tell the subject to move his ears towards the camera without dropping the rear shoulder. Again this technique tightens the skin over the chin punches out the jawline.

Another helpful video from Hurley called “It’s all about the Squinch” – a term he invented to describe squinting with your bottom eyelids only. Check it out here:



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