top of page
  • Eva Minio

What is the difference between headshots and portraits?

In the world of photography, headshots and portraits are two popular terms that are often used interchangeably. However, there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand if you are planning to have your photo taken.

Headshots are usually taken for professional purposes, such as for actors, models, or business professionals. They are typically a close-up of the person's head and shoulders, with the focus on the face. Headshots are often used in portfolios, resumes, or on social media profiles. The purpose of a headshot is to capture a person's likeness and convey a professional image.

In contrast, portraits are more artistic and can be taken for various purposes, such as for family portraits, senior portraits, or artistic photography. Portraits can feature the person's full body or just their face, and the focus can be on their expression, clothing, or surroundings. The purpose of a portrait is to capture the person's personality, emotions, or a specific moment in time.

One of the key differences between headshots and portraits is the background. Headshots are usually taken with a neutral background, such as a white or grey backdrop. This allows the focus to be on the person's face and features. In contrast, portraits can be taken with various backgrounds, such as natural landscapes or indoor settings. This allows the photographer to create a more dynamic and visually interesting image.

When it comes to posing, headshots are generally more formal and symmetric, whereas portraits offer greater flexibility for creative interpretation. In a headshot, the person typically faces the camera with a neutral expression. However, in a portrait, the person can assume various poses, such as leaning against a wall or sitting on a chair, and convey a diverse range of emotions.

Moreover, portraits have greater scope for use in an editorial context or as part of a branding project where the image needs to provide context to a wider narrative. In such cases, the photographer may use the portrait to tell a story or convey a particular message, beyond merely capturing the person's likeness.

When it comes to clothing and makeup, headshots and portraits also differ. In a headshot, the person should wear professional attire and professional and natural make up that underlines your features. The focus is on the person's face and features, not their clothing or accessories. In a portrait, the person can wear a wider range of clothing and makeup styles, depending on the desired look and feel of the image.

In conclusion, headshots and portraits are two distinct types of photography that serve different purposes. While headshots are typically used for professional purposes and feature a close-up of the person's face and shoulders, portraits are more artistic and can feature the person's full body and a range of poses, expressions, and backgrounds. Understanding the differences between the two can help you choose the right type of photography for your needs and ensure that you get the best possible results from your photo session.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page