Whether you like it or not, the internet is embedded in our lives, even more so than ever with remote working and work from home. As such it follows that our digital footprints are extensions of ourselves; our interests, our shopping habits, our opinions and our photographs, including images of ourselves both professional and personal. So how do you present yourself on the world wide web and, by extension, to the rest of the connected world? How old is and what does your profile portrait say about you; are you still using a selfie or a candid image from a night out for your professional social media or has your portrait been professionally taken? What are you wearing? Are you happy with your facial expression? You can’t make a second first impression and if that first impression is online with a profile image attached, it is going to be scrutinised and needs to set the right tone. So if you’re thinking of a new or updated portrait, here are some key factors to consider.



A headshot is a representation of you with the frame limited to your head and shoulders. A headshot generally includes eye contact with the camera, has a neutral background and is used for a professional purpose such as an organisation’s website or your professional social media such as LinkedIn.

By comparison a portrait offers more of who you are and includes scope for artistic licence. It is not limited to just your head and can include 3/4s or full body and also environmental and locational elements.

Ie a headshot is a type of portrait, but a portrait is not necessarily a headshot.


If you’re unsure as to whether you’re after a headshot or a portrait, consider the purpose and use of the image. A full or half page printed in a magazine for editorial and press purposes is different from a thumbnail image on a company website in regards to potential audience and scale. The former has space for visual elements other than you to offer context or to contribute to a story.

Images online are given less space and appear smaller than in print and thus scale and keeping the message clear is important. A single large element (such as you, the subject) does this well while a multi element image may appear busy.



We all have many sides to us, our professional, our personal and everything else in-between such as hobbies and family. As there are so few elements in a headshot, each element deserves attention; namely your hair, your expression, your clothes and the background. For wider shots the background and the location are more prominent and thus more important, however don’t forget the detail. While they may be small, and may be out of focus, background items will be scrutinised. Also consider your attire; how casual or formal would you like to appear? And if the image is going to be used for professional purposes, have a think about what the industry norm ‘uniform’ is; is it a jacket and tie, it is a sports jersey is it literally a uniform? I recently saw a post where a woman, working in professional services, decided to use an image of herself just back from a run for her LinkedIn. While I wouldn’t suggest wearing something completely different from an industry standard such as she did, it’s hard to argue with the amount of positive comments and feedback she received.

Portrait of Gildo Zegna, CEO Italian luxury fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna

Andy Barnham photography can offer portrait or headshot, print or online and we can guide you to make the right choice for you. A choice that gives you the desired results.

Email: a@andybarnham.com