Professional Headshots: What Makes Them Different from Regular Photos

What are professional headshots?


Professional headshots are high quality photographs that focus primarily on an individual's face, showcasing their personality, character, and professionalism. These images are often used for various purposes, including business profiles, personal branding, acting and modelling portfolios, and more.


Importance of professional headshots


Business purposes

In the business world, a professional headshot is a crucial element of one's online presence. It helps to establish credibility, trustworthiness, and professionalism, which are essential factors for attracting potential clients, partners, and employers.


Personal branding

For entrepreneurs, freelancers, and individuals looking to build their personal brand, a high-quality headshot is an indispensable asset. It can make a strong first impression, conveying a sense of competence and confidence in one's field of expertise.


Acting and modelling

For actors and models, a professional headshot is a vital component of their portfolio. Casting directors and agents often use headshots to evaluate and select potential talent, making it crucial for aspiring artists to invest in top-notch headshots that highlight their unique features and express their personality.


Key differences between professional headshots and regular photos



The primary difference between professional headshots and regular photos is their purpose. While regular photos can be used for various casual occasions, professional headshots are specifically designed to represent an individual in a formal and professional context.



Professional headshots place a strong emphasis on the subject's face, ensuring that it is the focal point of the image. The framing is typically close and tight, eliminating any unnecessary distractions. Regular photos, on the other hand, might have a more relaxed composition, often including additional elements such as scenery, objects, or other people.



Lighting is a critical aspect of professional headshots. Expert photographers use controlled and balanced lighting techniques to create flattering, natural-looking images that accentuate the subject's best features. In contrast, regular photos may not have the same attention to detail when it comes to lighting, potentially resulting in less flattering and less consistent images.



Professional headshots typically feature simple and unobtrusive backgrounds that don't distract from the subject's face. The choice of background is often neutral, such as a solid colour or a subtle pattern, ensuring that the viewer's attention remains focused on the individual. Conversely, regular photos may have more complex or busy backgrounds, which can sometimes compete with the subject for attention.


Posture and expression

In professional headshots, the subject's posture and facial expression are of utmost importance. The goal is to convey confidence, approachability, and professionalism. This often involves coaching from the photographer to help the subject achieve the desired look. Regular photos may not have the same emphasis on posture and expression, leading to more casual and candid moments.


Image quality and resolution

Professional headshots are captured with high-quality equipment, resulting in sharp and high-resolution images. This ensures that the photos can be used across various mediums, including print and digital platforms, without compromising quality. In comparison, regular photos may not have the same level of image quality and resolution.



Post-processing is another key aspect that differentiates professional headshots from regular photos. Professional photographers meticulously retouch and edit headshots to achieve a polished and refined appearance, while still maintaining a natural look. This may include colour correction, skin retouching, and other subtle adjustments. Regular photos may not undergo the same level of post-processing, or may have more stylized editing choices.


Tips for a successful professional headshot


Choosing the right photographer

Select a photographer who specializes in headshots and has a strong portfolio showcasing their work. It's essential to choose someone who understands the nuances of lighting, composition, and posing to ensure the best possible results.


Preparing for the session

Before the session, discuss your goals and expectations with the photographer, and ask for guidance on wardrobe, makeup, and grooming. It's important to choose clothing that complements your complexion and portrays the desired level of professionalism. Keep makeup and grooming clean and natural-looking, enhancing your features without overpowering them.


Posing and expression tips

During the session, follow the photographer's direction for posing and facial expressions. Practice a few different expressions in front of a mirror beforehand, focusing on conveying confidence, warmth, and approachability. Remember to relax your shoulders and maintain good posture for the most flattering and professional look.


Professional headshots are a vital tool in today's competitive landscape, helping individuals stand out in various professional settings. By understanding the key differences between professional headshots and regular photos, as well as implementing the tips for a successful headshot session, you can ensure that your headshot effectively represents your personal brand and sets you up for success. Use Soft Glass!!!



Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need a professional headshot for my LinkedIn profile?

While it's not required, having a professional headshot on your LinkedIn profile can significantly enhance your online presence and credibility, making it a worthwhile investment.


How often should I update my professional headshot?

It's recommended to update your headshot every 2-3 years, or whenever there are significant changes in your appearance.


What should I wear for my professional headshot?

Choose clothing that is professional, flattering, and complementary to your complexion. Opt for solid colours or subtle patterns, avoiding overly bright colours or distracting prints. Your clothing should align with your industry and the level of formality you want to convey.


Can I take a professional headshot with my smartphone?

While smartphones have advanced cameras, they may not produce the same level of quality and control as professional photography equipment. It's best to invest in a professional photographer for a headshot that truly represents your personal brand.


How much does a professional headshot cost?

The cost of a professional headshot can vary depending on the photographer, location, and package options. It's essential to research and compare photographers in your area to find one that aligns with your budget and expectations.


Is it necessary to have a makeup artist for a professional headshot session?

While not mandatory, having a makeup artist can help you achieve a polished and professional appearance. A skilled makeup artist will enhance your features and ensure that your makeup is appropriate for the camera and lighting conditions.


Should I include a full-body shot in my professional headshot session?

A traditional headshot focuses on the face, but depending on your industry and requirements, you may also want to include a three-quarter or full-body shot. For example, actors and models may need to showcase different looks and poses for their portfolios.


What background should I choose for my professional headshot?

The background for your headshot should be simple, neutral, and unobtrusive. Common choices include solid colours, such as white, grey, or black, and subtle patterns. The key is to ensure that the background doesn't distract from your face.


Can I have multiple headshots for different purposes?

Yes, it's a good idea to have a few different headshots that cater to various professional scenarios. For instance, you might have a more formal headshot for corporate settings and a more relaxed, approachable headshot for social media and networking.


How can I make my professional headshot stand out?

To create a memorable headshot, focus on showcasing your unique features and personality. Work with your photographer to choose a flattering pose, expression, and lighting setup that captures your essence. A genuine smile and engaging eye contact can also help your headshot stand out from the crowd.