5 Tips to Make Your Eyes Pop in Photos

The eyes are one of the most important features of any portrait. From headshots for actors to beauty shots for models, it’s the eyes that help you express yourself, connect and make a memorable impact.


If you’re an actor or model, you’re probably well aware that being memorable in your photos can go a long way. So how can you make sure your eyes make that unforgettable connection in photos?

Check out these 5 tips to emphasize your eyes in your shots.


1) Be aware of the light

Photographers know that the key to producing spectacular portrait images is light, but as an actor or model, being aware of your light sources is just as important. Knowing how light affects your look will make you a more knowledgeable subject who can take direction well and nail your shoot.

For eyes that really ‘pop’ you want to have at least some of the light source hitting your eyes or bouncing back onto them. This produces beautiful catch lights that reflect on the eye’s glassy surface. Your photographer will sometimes direct you to tilt your head or change your angle slightly for the best light, so stay aware of this and you’ll understand exactly what they’re going for.

2) Express emotions through your eyes

Tyra Banks obviously knows what she’s talking about as a former supermodel when she says to “smize.” One of the most important aspects of getting great shots for actors or models is creating the right mood, and stoic expressions aren’t typically the goal. The best portraits or headshots will convey an emotion or feeling, and the eyes are where these can really shine through.

Also important is that you are what you think. If you’re feeling nervous, tired, worried, it’ll show in those eyes. Clear your mind and be sure you’re focused on your shoot on the day-of and it’ll be a lot easier to control the emotions you express on-camera.

3) Take care of yourself

Make sure you’re well rested before the day of your shoot. This will all help your eyes look fresh for your photo session. You’ll also want to be sure to eat right, drink tons of water and avoid alcohol before a shoot. A clean, healthy diet will keep your body and eyes energized and keep your skin clear and puff-free.  

4) Keep the brows well-groomed

Waxing or reshaping your brows can open up the eye area and frame the face beautifully. Just make sure that you do any waxing or reshaping a couple of days in advance of your session to avoid any puffiness or redness in your skin.


If you’re doing your own makeup for a shoot, you may want to fill in your brows to so that they’re well-defined for a polished look. Actor headshot makeup should look natural, so avoid heavily made-up, smokey eyes. Light mascara is fine, and black is the best choice, even if you usually wear brown. Eyeliner is fine too, but keep the line minimal, close to the base of the eyelashes and avoid bold lines or thick liquid liner.

5) Practice makes perfect

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Take time before your headshot session to rehearse different expressions and poses in front of a mirror. Experiment with different thoughts and moods and pay close attention to your body language. Being aware of how these changes can affect and accentuate the eyes will help you and your photographer capture brilliant images on the day of your shoot.

You may also want to have practice shoots with a friend or partner. Once you’ve mastered your expressions in front of a mirror, how good are you at replicating them without looking into one? Practice shoots will let you know.

Try these tips before your next shoot and you’re likely to notice a difference in your photos. Or maybe you’re already a pro at this and have some tips of your own? I’d love to hear them. Feel free to leave a comment below and help out your fellow actors and models.