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Many of my clients don’t understand the difference between a portrait and a headshot. Today I’ll clarify the difference.

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Today’s topic stems from a conversation I had recently with a client about the type of portrait that they needed. We call this the “look and feel,” and ultimately, it came down to whether they needed a headshot, a portrait, or both. The client was a little confused about the difference between a headshot and a portrait.

Looking around online, you’ve probably seen a lot of different types of photos and decided that it doesn’t matter which type of photo you take. However, it really does matter.

When you’re thinking about the message you’re trying to convey, a portrait typically shows more of a person’s body. It could be full, half, or quarter length, or it could be a person sitting at a desk, lectern, or in their work environment. Those are called environmental portraits.

A headshot, by definition, is the subject’s head and shoulders. The emphasis in a headshot is on the face, the expression, and the message you’re looking to convey. Two things factor into what is expressed in a headshot—your eyes and mouth. That’s where your confidence and approachability are expressed.

Consider what your final need is when deciding between a portrait or headshot.

If you decide to shoot a portrait, one thing you have to consider is what the rest of your body is saying. If you’re going to have your entire body in the photo, there are many details to pay attention to. You have to make sure that your pants match your suit, that your clothes are pressed and presentable, that your shoes match, and so on. Anything that reflects on the total look of your person needs to be addressed.

When you’re trying to decide whether or not to go with a portrait or headshot, consider what your final need is. If all you need is a headshot, then stick with that, because it allows you to focus on your face and expression as opposed to having to worry about your entire physical presentation.

If you have any more questions about this, feel free to reach out to me directly. I would be happy to help you!