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Daniel Ooi Fine Art Gallery

the most unique photography in town

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The Difference Between Portraits and Headshots(Corporate Portrait)

What’s a headshot? A picture of someone, usually just head and shoulders. What’s a portrait? A picture of someone, often just head and shoulders. So is there a difference? The answer to that is, “Yes, there certainly is!” Read on to learn exactly what it is…

The Difference Between Portraits and Headshots(Corporate Portrait)
You might be forgiven for wondering if the difference between headshots and portraits was a matter of technique – but in fact it’s actually one of intent.

Business Headshot

A headshot is generally taken to mean a formal representation of a person for use in a professional setting. Businessmen have them taken to use on profiles or to accompany articles about them. Actors always need an up-to-date headshot for their portfolio, as do models. And in fact, in this day and age of online living, practically everyone needs one for their LinkedIn or Facebook page.

Portrait Photography

A portrait on the other hand should be less formal and more enlightening – it should in some way tell a story or illuminate who the sitter is. It can be head and shoulders, or it could be from the waist up or even show the complete figure. And whereas headshots need to be pretty straightforward, a portrait allows for artistic license – for example, dramatic use of light and shade could put the sitter’s features into shadow to create an air of mystery or props could be used to tell a story about the person.


Tips For Taking Headshots and Portraits

1. When it comes to lighting, headshots benefit from softer lighting that doesn’t create harsh shadows on the face or make prominent features stand out. With portraits you can afford to be slightly more dramatic and allow more contrast.

2. Prepare your subject for a headshot to look as relaxed as possible. They should wear their usual work attire and avoid fresh haircuts, heavy make-up and forced smiles.

3. Headshots shouldn’t include props and work best with a neutral background. Portraits, on the other hand, can make full use of settings and props to tell the sitter’s story.

4. Portraits can be shot in extreme close – up or from a distance, and can be made more interesting by being shot at an unusual angle. Headshots, however, don’t benefit from these treatments.

5. Most headshots will be in colour and use standard lighting – it is, after all, about creating a true life representation of your subject. Portraits, though, often benefit from being in black and white. For some reason monochrome images often appear to carry more emotional depth than colour ones and a good portrait photographer will use this factor to his advantage. Generally, the expectation is that a headshot will be shot in portrait format rather than landscape, though once again a portrait doesn’t have to follow such hard and fast rules.

6. For actors, versatility is key so a headshot should not suggest a certain type – this means keeping clothing neutral and, for women, not overdoing it with hair and make-up. Casting directors need to see the individual’s face clearly—they know they can easily change a person’s look in the wardrobe and make-up department.

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Guidelines for Studio Photo Session for Professional Portrait or Business Headshots

How effective and professional your resulting photo will be. The following tips are general photo shoot guidelines for an in-studio photo session for a professional portrait or business headshots.


Set aside some time to carefully select the outfits that you are going to bring to the photo shoot. Bring a couple of wardrobe choices.
Hang your outfits on hangers and place them in a garment bag.
Arrive in the first outfit that you’d like to be photographed in.
Get enough sleep prior to the photo shoot.
Come with a clean and moisturized face if you’re having your make-up done at the studio. If you’re doing your own make-up, please go for the natural look and bring your make-up kit with you.
Make sure you’ve got your hair styled before arriving at the photo shoot. A natural looking style is always good.
Arrive at least five minutes prior to your scheduled session.
Enjoy your photo session and have a great time.
Corporate Look for Women:

Use tailored suit jackets that fit your body perfectly. Have complimentary bottom and shoes. Gray, blues, black with tailored details are great accents for this type look.
For blouses underneath the jacket, think shiny. Silky fabric looks great on camera. A solid colored top or silky accents always add interest to the photo. Flattering colors for all skin types: Eggplant, Indian Teal, True Red and Mellow Rose
Bring simple earrings, bracelets, and necklaces with you. They add interest to most photos. If you don’t normally wear jewelry, this will not apply to you.
Proper undergarments are always advisable.

Business Casual Look for Women:

Wrap dresses or tops that wrap around your waist are a flattering cut for any type of body or shape.
V-Necks are an excellent choice as they always elongate the neck. A complimentary colored tank top that goes underneath the top can also add dimension to your outfit.
Use a casual jacket or blazer that fits your body perfectly. Jackets and blazers are always a good choice for layering.
Think shiny. Silky fabric looks great on camera. A solid colored top or silky accents always add interest to the photo.
Bring simple earrings, bracelets, and necklaces to the shoot. They add interest to most photos. They may or may not be used, but having the option to use them takes a lot of stress off of you. If you don’t normally wear jewelry, this will not apply to you.
Belts are always great to have for the occasional medium shots.
Proper undergarments are always advisable.


Corporate Look for Men:

Tailored suit with sharp dress shirt is what we are after.
For ties, bring at least three options, all which compliment or can be used with the shirt(s) you are bringing. Red, blue, purple and black ties are good colours for this photo shoot.
For a more polished look with style, feel free to bring suit vest or a couple of pocket squares.
Flattering colors for dress shirts are usually French blue or purple in combination with a dark gray, navy blue or black suit jacket.
Very busy multi color prints, stripes (big or small), neon colors, all white, and all black—are not the best choices for a photo shoot, unless discussed with the photographer prior to your session.


Business Casual Look for Men:

Dress shirts are always a great choice as the photographer can always dress it up or dress it down. Bring an undershirt if this is necessary.
If you normally wear a tie, bring at least three options, all which compliment or can be used with the shirt(s) you are bringing.
Jackets and blazers with a casual shirt underneath are great for a more relaxed look.
Flattering colors for men are usually French blue or purple in combination with a dark gray, navy blue or black jacket.
Bring outfits that fit you the best and make you look sharp.
For more styling guidelines for men click here.


Most importantly come with spirit of fun and adventure. Enjoy your photo shoot. To see more samples of these types of photos, go to our Business Headshots Section.

If this post has made you want to update your headshot click here and we’ll be in touch!



More about our Professional Portrait or Business Headshots click here



Daniel Ooi Fine Art Gallery

the most unique photography studio in town