Differences Between a Portrait & Headshot Photographer
Posted on 15th January 2024 at 16:37
As a commercial photographer in Berkshire, Mike Green is widely experienced across multiple industries, including eCommerce, EV, tech and engineering, to name just a few.
Mike is known for providing bespoke, unique photography services for businesses across the UK. Two of these services are corporate portrait photography and headshot photography, which sound similar but mean quite different things. These terms are often used interchangeably, but in Mike’s experience as a professional corporate photographer, there is a distinction between portrait and headshot photography.
This short guide will explain their fundamental differences, which may help you better communicate to your photographer the type of photography you need to promote yourselves, your business or your services.
What is a Headshot?
The definition of a headshot is a professionally-taken photograph of one individual’s face, from the shoulders and above. Great headshot examples would traditionally be found for people working in the entertainment industry, with actors’ headshots being a standout feature in their quest for work.
Professional headshots are used for business purposes, so headshot images should be crisp, focused, well-lit and high-quality.
What is a Portrait?
A photo becomes a portrait when the subject, lighting, background, and emotion trigger an emotional response between the viewer and the photograph. Business portraits often include the body, as opposed to headshots. You could commonly find examples of portrait specialists photographing people for fashion industry shoots, in colour or black-and-white.
Environmental portraits retain an element of artistic expression, while business headshots are generally intended to convey the professionalism of the subject.
Key Differences Between Corporate Portraits and Headshots
Both headshots and portraits have some overlap in terms of their features, and luckily, in today’s socially and digitally connected world, both these types of photos can come in handy for businesses looking to market their products, services or staff.
There are some distinct differences when choosing the right imagery for your business. Some of the specifics are outlined below.
Headshots are specifically framed for the head and shoulders, emphasising the face. The subject will likely be looking directly at the camera.
Portraits can be framed in any way the subject or photographer desires; they could be full-body portraits, three-quarter photos, waist-up or even head and shoulder photographs. Therefore, you could argue that a headshot is a type of portrait.
Portrait photographers could encourage their subjects to look at the camera in some shots, but away in others, thus creating more candid images. The direction will depend on the circumstances and purpose of the photography.
Headshot photos are more linear in this aspect, typically consisting of a series of direct-facing shots of individuals. Again, reiterating the above, the emphasis of headshot photography is the face and expression of the subject.
Headshot photographers could often take photos in a studio or on-site with a professional studio setup that allows for strict lighting control, neutral backdrops, continuous lights, strobes, etc.
That’s not to say that portrait lighting can’t be reserved for studios, but some photographers will only rely on natural light and incorporate background elements occasionally. Having said that, this tactic isn’t adopted by all portrait photographers.
Intended Use of the Image
The purpose of portrait photos are very broad; businesses can use professional portraits for a wide range of editorial purposes. This can range from catalogues and brochures to websites, social media or any other branding project where images give credence and context to a wider narrative.
Headshots are more secular because they’re typically reserved for a professional capacity. The purpose can be for digital and printed marketing purposes. Still, you’ll invariably find headshots of directors, employees and stakeholders scattered across website profile pages, LinkedIn profiles or ‘meet the team’ sections in brochures.
Whether you’re hiring a professional portrait photographer or a headshot specialist, you’ll need to specify the purpose of your imagery and decide which type will best suit your needs, based on the above.
Hire a Corporate Portrait and Headshot Photographer in Reading and Beyond
Hopefully, this guide has answered some questions as you search for a local commercial photographer.
Please refer to Mike’s corporate headshots and portraits gallery to understand the photography styles that he can perfect to suit your particular needs.
If you’re interested in exploring the potential of business photography, you may benefit from learning about the scope of Mike’s broader photography portfolio. Mike provides bespoke photography services, ranging from eCommerce and product photography to architecture, construction and location shoots.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an industry that Mike hasn’t delved into in his storied career as a commercial photographer.
To get that competitive advantage, stand out from the crowd and engage your clients with cutting-edge imagery, please contact Mike Green.
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