Portrait vs. Headshot

what is the difference between a portrait and a headshot

Often the terms 'portrait' and 'headshot' are used interchangeably. But it's worth pointing out the technical differences between the two when it comes to planning your photo shoot. Typically a 'portrait' will refer to the inclusion of any area from about the waist down. While a 'headshot' will indicate an image that focuses on the area from about the chest/shoulders and up.

Each type of image has it's place - but usually they are used for different purposes.

A headshot from the chest/shoulders and up emphasizes the face, particularly the facial expression and eyes. This is a great tool for actors, those in theater arts, or anyone who makes a living with their face primarily.

It is so important that a good headshot clearly communicates your personality through expression. An image that can speak to someone of who you are, or who you can be, is invaluable in the entertainment industry or any other profession where engaging people is key.

A portrait style image is great to have in any type of business where body language plays a part in your profession. This allows people to get to know how you present yourself in person, not just in how you dress, but how you carry yourself.

Portraits are often used in the corporate world, but can really be used in any profession where a tight headshot is not quite enough to communicate what you need to say with the image.

While portraits and headshots are used for different purposes, and each have their place in varying industries, most professionals find they need a mix of both to express the full range of their personality in business.

A tight headshot would likely work best online for social media profile pictures since a portrait would be too small to be seen well. Whereas a full portrait might work better on a larger marketing or advertising piece since there is not only more room, but a tight headshot may make too big of an impact and take away from the overall message. While an actor might need a mix of both on a traditional comp card, etc.

In most circumstances you will find that both types of shots are essential for any kind of business today with the multiple ways our photos are now used whether online or in print. So when planning your photo shoot it's important to understand the differences and uses of each type of photo so that you can be sure you receive all the images you need for your profession.