Headshot vs. Portrait: What’s the difference?

March 12, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


Not all images are made the same way...


Very simply put: A headshot is a picture of your head, a Portrait is an image of who you are.



Headshot Portrait ComparisonThe uber talented comidienne Flavia Masson, 'mugging' it up for my camera. Left: Beautiful as you are "Headshot" Right: Pure personality © A. De Vos Photo, Inc.

The uber talented actress/comidienne Flavia Masson, 'mugging' it up for my camera. Left: Beautiful as you are "Headshot" Right: Pure personality

Portrait © A. De Vos Photo, Inc.



Why does this matter? Well, once upon a time, it didn’t. According to Wikipedia, the purpose of a headshot is “identification” and at a time when there were very few professionals that needed professional photography, a nice picture of your head was really all you needed to get set up.


However, in this day and age when Google has become your resume and LinkedIn your interview, everyone you meet will look you up and a simple picture is no longer good enough.


In reality, you really only get 90 seconds of a person’s initial attention. If you’re lucky enough to grab them through your words and past actions alone, it will still take a long time and a lot of touches to get them to know, like and trust you enough to work with you and give you money. Yuck.


What people really want to see is clues about your personality, what’s special about you and why they should choose you above others, who on paper are very similar to you. Social media has become the representation of your competence and reputation! As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” (and perhaps thousands of dollars).


Imagine your own reaction when you look up someone you might want to work with and they have no picture, or if they do, its a vacation snapshot or a selfie with their cat in the background. Even though you can clearly identify the person, these little things can make you think twice about  doing business with them….. Next!


So, now imagine an audience who sees an image of who you are - a confident, capable, approachable, exciting, trustworthy, compassionate, bold, use your own adjective, etc. kind of person. Are they more likely to want to connect with you, learn about you, and pursue an opportunity to get to know you on a more significant level? See the importance that someone like you will bring to their enterprise? Yes, almost immediately. Yay!


Okay, so now that you know the difference, what’s the next step?


Well, if you still think a simple picture of your head (headshot) is inline with your dreams and objectives, your local pharmacy is the best place to get a decent quality bargain. They’ll do a standard passport i.d. photo that will take 10 minutes and $10 dollars. Easy.


Or, if you now understand that in today’s workspace your face is your fortune (and you don’t want to go broke), your next step is to invest in working with a professional portrait photographer!


And not just any professional portrait photographer, but someone who will create a portrait session and a portfolio of images that are designed to help encourage your audience to accept you as their top choice. Every aspect of your portraits, from the light, composition, clothing, makeup, jewelry, background, expression, impression should all be a collaborative decision between you and your photographer so that your personality really shines (and you make more money).


Remember, your professional images are all about marketing, branding and standing out in your industry. Not just as identification, but as a tribute to the value you bring to the people you want to influence. Clear?



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