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Headshot vs Portrait: A Detailed Guide

Headshot vs Portrait: A Detailed Guide

| Duane Furlong |
Scottsdale Headshots for business professionals and Phoenix headshots for professionals and business executives, phoenix photographer, photographer for headshots, headshot photographer, good headshot

The major difference between a headshot and a portrait is that a headshot can be a portrait, but a portrait cannot be a headshot. Simply put, a headshot focuses on your face, neck, and shoulder while a portrait can cover your whole body or ¾ of it. Here are details of how the two concepts are similar to or different from each other.


When taking a portrait image you have the entire body (or at least ¾ of it) to create the mood and the feel of your image. On the other hand, when taking a headshot, you mostly have only your face to communicate. So how do you take a perfect headshot?

Do not be misled, a serious face will not mean that you are a serious business person or worker. Have you seen those people whose headshots are so serious they almost seem like a cover for a funeral services advert? Subconsciously, people like working, doing business, or even dating a happy person. It would therefore be a good thing to flash that smile, right?

While taking a headshot, it is okay to look at the camera. However, moving your face slightly (less than an inch should do) can have a great effect on your image. Don’t stare at the camera with blank eyes, instead communicate that you are a confident, and fun person to work with or even date.

To avoid making your image to come out all tensed, relax, and breathe.


Lighting for both portrait images and headshots can be used for a lot of effects. With portrait images, you have a lot of space to play with lighting. You can, for example, use light to create different colors on your final image.

On the other hand, lighting a headshot, especially for business purposes, should be used to enhance a friendly, dependable feel to them. As such, it should be soft, even lighting that leaves minimal shadows on the final image.

If you would like to hide a double chin or to create a focus on your jaw, you should have the light source raised a few inches above your head. You can also use a kicker light to highlight your image. Moreover, you should ensure that your entire face is well lit.


When taking a portrait photo, you have a variety of backgrounds to choose from. You can choose to take your photo in a field of flowers and it will still look good and functional. The space and purpose of the headshot may, however, restrict the kind of background that you will use. You, of course, wouldn’t want those flowers taking away the viewer’s attention from your face, would you?

Headshot backgrounds should be simple and mostly single-colored. Light grey and white backgrounds are more preferred given their ability to speak professionally. It is also easy to integrate white and grey with your brand colors.

Another thing to take care of is the need to edit the background. Plain backgrounds are easy to enlarge without showing the stretch or giving you a lot of work on the photo editor.

Business & Corporate Headshots

Business headshots are a little different from headshots that you take for your social media or dating apps and websites. It is also worth noting that social media platforms like LinkedIn fall under the category of business headshots. So what should your business or corporate headshots look like?

First, and pretty obvious, your attire should speak a lot about your profession. If you are a business leader, a business suit should be your preferred attire. Professionals like lawyers, doctors, or scholars can wear clothes that match their professions. Still, on the attire, avoid wearing tops that have writings on them.

Business and corporate headshots should have very minimal enhancement. It is okay to remove a pimple here and another blemish there, but that’s just it. On the same breath, wear makeup like you would when going to the office and do not overdo it. Glasses are okay to wear, but you should only wear them if you normally wear them and people are used to seeing you in them.  People would not be very willing to do business with you if the first thing you lie about is who you are.

Treat Headshots Like a Branding Tool

As you lay your personal or corporate brand strategy, you should consider the image that people associate with you. Ensure that the colors present in your headshot are related to your business or profession.

Would you like to have your headshots taken in a way that will sell your image? Duane Furlong Studios will take your headshots in a patient, professional manner.


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