Headshots vs. Portraits

In simple terms...

Headshots are primarily used for personal branding / marketing and is a professional representation of an individual.

Portraits are an artistic representation of a person.



A professional headshot is a powerful marketing tool.  Today, we do so much of our networking and business online using social media.  A headshot may very well be the first impression that your clients, prospective clients, and/or referral sources will have of you.  Having a polished and professional looking headshot will help to make you more memorable and gives the impression of confidence and competency.

You will receive high resolution files for publication on the Internet, within websites, for sending via e-mail, etc. and are suitable for printing.  Actor headshots are typically printed in 8x10 size while model headshots are usually 9x12 size.

Headshots are normally of your head or head & shoulders.  Your face fills the frame and allows your eyes to draw in the viewer.  However, a standard for models is to include a three-quarter or full-length image.  The three-quarter length can also be a good look for executives.

Today, it is common for headshots to be needed in a variety of sizes.  In order to accommodate an image into a traditional 8x10, a digital sized 8x12, or a square 1:1 crop; it is normal to leave some negative space (extra space) on the sides or the top/bottom of an image for proofing.  You will be able to select digital image aspect ratios of 3:2, 5:4, and/or 1:1 so that you will be able to create prints in all common dimensions with minimal to no cropping necessary.

Commercial Headshots

These headshots are designed for advertising.  Advertisers typically prefer people that appear as warm, friendly, and trustworthy.  Your headshot should represent you in this way.  Commercial headshots typically include bright lighting, minimal shadows, a nice smile, and soft colors.

Theatrical / Legit Headshots

A legit headshot is used to show off your uniqueness.  These headshots usually utilize more creative posing, dramatic lighting, layered and nuanced than a commercial headshot.  Legit headshots are geared toward the entertainment industry including: film, television, actors, models, singers, and other entertainers / performers.  Unlike commercial headshots, legit headshots typically include a variety of "looks" that best represent the performer / model as an individual.



A portrait is very different from a "snapshot" or a professional headshot.  Portraits convey the likeness, personality, and even mood of a person.  Care is taken to control lighting and shadows to enhance the appearance of the individual.  Composition, color balance, color harmony, and tones are important considerations in creating a portrait.  Imperfections are corrected before proofs are finalized and produced.

Portraits are not delivered as digital files.  They are produced using gallery grade papers and are edited / retouched to ensure that you look your best.  A portrait is expected to be framed and displayed similar to fine artwork.  Portraits are not typically used for posting electronically as a professional representation of an individual.