What’s the Difference Between a Portrait and a Headshot?

By Published On: August 10th, 2023

Photography is an art form and like all art it is subjective, which is why it can be tricky to understand the differences between a portrait and a headshot. When looking to hire a professional photographer however, it’s important to know exactly what you need so he/she can deliver a photo that meets your expectations. This post explains the difference between headshots and portraits to help you decide which is right for you.

Professional portrait

Portraits 101

Generally speaking, a professional portrait is a photo that captures the subject in a way that is natural, yet still shows off their best features. Portraits can be taken in a studio or on location, and are typically more dramatic, artistic, and intimate than a traditional headshot.

Portraits are great for magazine features, social media, dating profiles, family photos, etc. Basically, if you need a photo that shows off more than just your face, a professional portrait is a great way to go.

Utah business headshot

Headshot Basics

A professional headshot is a photo that is specifically designed to show off your face in the best light possible. Headshots are usually taken in a studio with professional lighting and often have a simpler backdrop than a portrait.

Headshots are typically used for professional purposes, such as websites, business cards, resumes, acting portfolios, etc. If you need a photo that focuses on your face and makes you look like someone other people want to work with, getting a headshot is a no-brainer.


So, which is right for you? If you need a photo that shows off your professional persona and puts your best face forward, go with a headshot. If you want something more creative or intimate, opt for a portrait. And if you’re still not sure, call JGardiner Photography and we’ll figure it out together.