What is the difference between a Business Headshot and a Business Portrait?

A simple headshot and a business portrait may look somewhat similar, yet several points make them differ from each other. Read along to understand these differences and learn how you can perfect both types of photography.



The one thing that truly differentiates between a headshot and a business portrait is the purpose. Ideally, headshots are suitable and mostly required for LinkedIn and other social media profiles. They are also included in the ‘About Me’ sections of the websites. It can be understood from here that headshots are used as an introductory medium for the person.

On the other hand, Business Portraits are designed to be more print-friendly because they might appear in the company magazines. A business portrait not only introduces a person but also gives context about the corporate sector or even the product line that they represent.

The tone of the Image

The overall tone of the image comprises of both feel and mood and it is set according to the purpose of the image. Since headshots are used to introduce the person, that is why they have a more professional yet approachable feel to them. A smile is integral in most of them, however, it all depends on the person if they want to appear knowledgeable, friendly, or even firm in some cases.

A business portrait conveys more than the attitude of a person, it acts as a story of the corporate or even a product.

Lighting Conditions for Both Types

To create the overall tone of the image, lighting is needed. For headshots, it is somewhat straightforward. Just some big light modifiers are required to keep the shadows as less as possible.

Contrarily, lighting for business portraits is more detailed. Since the purpose is to tell the story that is why a little drama is also added using the light.


When composing a headshot, it is best to keep distractions to a minimum. A neutral and single color is used most commonly in studios. However, the background is blurred when shooting outdoors.

Business portraits on the other hand are more about all the elements of the image tied together. The background also complements the overall message and stays in as much focus as the foreground.

For social media profiles, the headshot is kept as a square crop. Otherwise, a vertical crop that keeps just the face in focus is best for headshots.

Lens Used

A lens with a focal length of at least 50mm can be used for both headshots and portraits. However, the most popular choices for headshots are 85mm, 105mm, and 135mm. For portraits, 24-50mm lenses can be used.


As a last piece of advice, headshots do require some expertise to be perfect, yet they are still pretty basic. On the other hand, business portraits allow you to get creative with the whole composition and stylization of the image. Now, it is up to you to decide which shot you want according to the given scenario and style.