Headshots v Portraits
Headshot and Portrait images explained...finally!
As I chat with a variety of thought leaders, there is confusion in this community with the difference between a headshot and portrait.
Before I became a full-time photographer, I shared that same confusion, so, I get it.
Allow me to shed some light on the difference:
A Headshot is a type of portrait - a highly specialized portrait - captured in a controlled environment, such as a studio, with the subject staring down the barrel of the lens.
These images are best leveraged as profile pictures, website “About Me” photos, speaker submissions and other types of press-related materials.
Notice two important characteristics that immediately jump out when viewing these images:
- They're very “clean” - uniform background, solid colored clothing, no crazy makeup or jewelery.
- the crop is very tightly centered on the head and face, with little room for the rest of the body.
These are a super important details to keep in mind.
When potential clients visit your profile and view your headshot for the first time, it’s your unofficial introduction to them, so it’s vital to make a great impression - make sure they can look you in the eye, interpret your expression so they can get a sense of of who you are.
Everything in that frame supports this goal, which is why it’s vital to keep visual distractions - big shiny jewelery, overdone makeup or heavily-patterned clothing - out of the frame.
It’s harder to make that connection if the image is a wider shot where your face is hard to spot in a small profile picture space or if you’re wearing very distracting clothing and accessories.
Portraits, on the other hand, do not have such tight guidelines and restrictions.
These are the photos where you can let your freak flag fly, folks. (unintentional alliteration, lol)
These photos are great for everything else related to your image content needs - social posts, sales vehicles, signage for your sponsorship tables at summits and expos, as well as book covers and other printed materials.
Wear outfits that enhance and accentuate your brand - absolutely.
Head-to-toe framing? Go for it, it’s cool!
Looking directly at the camera or away from the camera? Why the hell not?
Capture you in action - working, walking, talking, or other various “lifestyle” scenarios - please and thank you.
Now, here’s where it can become a little confusing - YES, portraits CAN be used as a headshot, BUT, it’s still a prerequisite that the portrait that’s used is tightly cropped to the face, the subject is looking into the camera, and the distractions in the frame are minimal, at most.
Does this all make sense?
If you have any further questions on the subject, I love to talk all things image content, so, set up a call with me here and we can break down the differences further, :)
PS - For those of you who aren’t in the know, I mail out these blogs 3x a week, and lemme tell you, they’re a real party, so, if you’d like to get in on this, sign up for it here and I’ll throw in a free gift for you...because I care, :)