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What’s the Difference between a Headshot and Business Portrait?

February 7, 2023
If you call me and ask about “headshots” for you or your company, don’t be surprised if I call it a Business Portrait! Here’s the difference between a headshot and business portrait.
If you call me and ask about “headshots” for you or your company, don’t be surprised if I call it a Business Portrait! Here’s the difference between a headshot and business portrait.

Once upon a time, a headshot was a traditional portrait

The Business Portrait

Once upon a time, a headshot was a traditional business portrait, used for marketing yourself as an actor or business person. And then the digital revolution hit. And, headshots devolved into a candid snap shot, taken with very little thought to light, background, expression etc.

It got thrown up on facebook, linkedin, myspace, twitter etc, without a thought of who might be looking at it or what it says about you.

And, it became a sloppy, amateur marketing tool that was right up there, in terms of usefulness, as a driver’s license photo.

But, A Business Portrait is Different

Along came the Business Portrait.

A direct reaction to the vacation snap shots that are permeating the online profiles, business portraits are in demand by CEOs, Actors, and other professional people who are concerned about how their online image is perceived by their target audience.

The biggest difference between the “modern headshot” and a business portrait is philosophical.

Every part of the business portrait, from the light, composition, clothing, makeup, jewelry, background, expression, etc, is a conscious decision, on the part of the photographer and the subject, to create an image designed to stand out and be noticed by your target audience. The image that we create is designed that way specifically because it will help your audience accept you as their number one choice.

Business portraits are about marketing, branding and the business of your industry. They are a visual representation of your competence and reputation.

The session here was created for Locust Walk Partners, a business development advisory firm that offers transaction, strategic, and commercial support to life sciences companies.

After a discussion with their marketing consultants, we decided that a studio shoot, complete with expert makeup artist/groomer Heidi, would give them the best results for their web site update and marketing materials collateral.

These are the images that would cement them, in their target audience’s mind, as the ones to engage.

All this is to say that, if you call me and ask about “headshots” for you or your company, don’t be surprised if I call it a Business Portrait!

Updated on Feb 7, 2023

We originally wrote this article about the business portrait back in 2011 and it continues to be a popular white paper on the thoughts and planning behind the simple “headshot”.

Recently, we decided to revisit it and see if the original thesis needed updating.

There were a few things that we changed and updated, but the basic premise holds true: your business headshot is your virtual representation to your target audience.

Why not make their first impression of you the best it can be?

Related Stories from the Studio . . .

Headshots are for creative credibility. People judge each other in a fraction of a second. And, on the internet, you never see the ones that walk away.

The corporate business portrait, headshots, avatars, profiles, and publicity shots are more validating now than they have ever been.

Your In Person brand and your online brand need to mesh to support your future interactions. Does your headshot support your in person brand?

Executive Profile Portrait Sessions for Alumni Magazines are always fun. You never know who you will meet or if the New England weather will cooperate!