The Difference Between a Portrait and a Headshot

As a portrait and headshot photographer, I get asked a lot what
the difference between a headshot and a portrait is. On other occasions, I
encounter clients who request headshots and later explain to me that they
actually wanted a portrait. With so much confusion, I figured I would shed some
light in the topic.

Traditionally, a portrait can cover multiple mediums of art.
It can be a photograph, painting, sculpture or any other representation of a
person. What makes it a portrait is the depiction of certain character traits
of the subject. That’s why we remember iconic portraits. They tend to open the
doors to the subject’s personality and/or character. After viewing a good
portrait, one leaves thinking they have gained an insight on the subject. Think
of the Mona Lisa or even Steve Jobs’ iconic portrait. That said, you will find
that a good majority of the pictures we see are portraits… individual
portraits, group portraits, and even self-portraits, which today are considered

On the other hand, a headshot is simply a photograph of a
person’s face. These traditionally cover the head and shoulders. They are often
used on company websites, by professionals, and on social media websites such
as LinkedIn.

I hope this shed some light on the topic. 

Steve Jobs image shot by Albert Watson

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