The Difference Between Headshot and Portrait

Headshots and portraits are two of the most common types of images requested by clients. They both feature the subject's head and shoulders in an attractive, neutral setting. While portraits can include multiple people, headshots are typically framed more tightly around the subject's head. They may also include the subject's entire body or upper torso.

The basic difference between a headshot and a portrait is the type of lighting. In a portrait, a rim of light can be used to draw attention to the subject's face. In a dramatic portrait, rim lighting can be used to separate the subject's face from the background. Although rim lighting is often the preferred type of lighting, it is not necessarily the best choice for a headshot. These photos are often personalized to the subject, so rim lighting is not usually used on a high-volume project.

When choosing a photographer, you need to consider the intended use of the images. A headshot is generally used for professional reasons, such as business websites and LinkedIn profiles. A portrait is more creatively-styled and may be used for promotional materials or advertising. A portrait can also be used by entrepreneurs for their "About Me" pages on their website. Headshots require optimal lighting and posing to give the head proper structure. A studio environment with a neutral background will be ideal.

While a headshot is generally generic, a portrait is more personal and tells a story. For example, a school ID badge may include a portrait of a high school athlete. Similarly, an actress may send a headshot to a casting agency, or have a portrait of herself on the set of her first major television gig.

A portrait is often a more elaborate and creative image than a headshot, allowing a photographer to express their creativity. The portrait photographer may experiment with lighting, poses, colors, backgrounds, props, and more. It is a more personalized image, and it allows a more creative photographer to make their images stand out.

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