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What's the difference between a headshot and a portrait?

Have you ever asked yourself what the difference is? I consider myself a portrait photographer who sometimes does headshots. Even though they may be very similar, there are some things to take into consideration. In both cases, my goal is to capture the essence of the person before my camera in the most flattering way.

But in case you were wondering about some of the differences, here they are!


PURPOSE AND CONTEXT


Headshots


  • They are mostly used for professional purposes, such as resumes, online profiles, like LinkedIn, or corporate websites.


  • They focus on my subject's face and I try to emphasize their expressions and those features unique to them.


  • The objective is generally to transmit approachability, professionalism, and confidence in the work arena.




Portraits


  • Portraits offer a more ample perspective in the sense that I get more flexibility in regard to how much of their body I'm able to include in the frame. I'm definitely not constrained to focus on the subject's face only, but I can include other parts of their body and the way the person positions it depending on the circumstance.


  • They definitely allow for more versatility, creativity, and artistic expression in my use of posing, lighting and outfits.


  • As opposed to headshot, which normally are only used digitally, portraits beg to be printed, framed, and/or displayed for others to admire.




FRAMING AND COMPOSITION


Headshots


  • I already mentioned how the focus is mainly on the subject's face and it's framed from the chest, or from the shoulders up.

  • I normally use monochromatic backdrops, which help me towards the purpose of keeping all the attention on the subject's face, and not on what's behind or around them.

  • I can have the most good-looking person in front of my camera, but if the lighting is wrong, it will ruin the entire image. Again, I'm going for a pleasant and polished look.




Portraits


  • Since portraits offer a more flexible framing, I might even get super creative and switch camera lenses, depending on the look that we might be going for.

  • The background plays a more significant role here and it's actively a part of the image, as it contributes to its mode and style.

  • Lighting is also very important, but I'll use it more freely depending on what I'm looking to enhance. We'll play more with it and make good use of the shadows created by the positioning of the light.




POSING AND EXPRESSION


Headshots


  • As mentioned before, with headshots I feature a neutral and friendly expression, appropriate for professional environments.

  • I focus on the subject's appearance of confidence and approachability.





Portraits


  • They allow me to help the subject express more of their personality and authentic expressions that make them who they are.

  • The posing is more dynamic, which conveys a sense of movement and natural interaction.



After reading all that, what do you think? Which one suits you at this time?



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