Corporate Headshots vs Acting Headshots: What’s the Difference?

differences between a corporate and acting headshot

There are two types of headshots that headshot photographers are commonly booked for: corporate (or business) and acting. These are two types of professions who understand their professional image is of high value; in fact, it is critical for pursuing business and acting opportunities. Needless to say, getting the right headshot can be your ticket to opening up more opportunities and should be taken seriously.

While they do have lots of similarities, there is a significant difference between these two types of headshots. It is important to understand what these differences are so that you can assume the right mindset going into that photography session.


Corporate Headshots vs Acting Headshots: Differences

Discover the differences between a corporate and acting headshot so you can distinguish one from the other and use the right approach.

1. Goal of the Headshot

The goal of the headshot is the primary area of difference between corporate and acting headshots. 

For a corporate headshot, the goal is to showcase who YOU are. For business professionals, you want to project your personality and your authentic self. You also want your headshots to depict you as someone who is credible, trustworthy, and professional. To put it simply, you want people to warm to you and want to work with you.

Meanwhile, the goal of an acting headshot is to showcase your versatility. Your headshots will be distributed to casting directors for movies, TV shows, commercials, etc. You want to be able to distinguish yourself as being a good fit for any of those settings. Unless you want to focus on playing one particular type of character, then you want the casting director to envision you as someone that can play different roles and make it believable. 

distinguish corporate headshot from acting

2. Impression

As mentioned above, a headshot must be able to draw certain emotions from people just by looking at it. A corporate headshot should make people feel that they can respect you and consider you as someone who is credible. This is why it is important for corporate headshots to look professional. 

On the other hand, acting headshots do not necessarily have to look too professional. You have more flexibility in terms of the variety of poses and facial expressions that you can do. Since you are part of the creative industry, there is a bit more room for creative freedom to work with here.

3. Style

Style is another area where there is a significant difference between corporate and acting headshots. Since corporate headshots have to look professional and credible, it is important that you choose the right wardrobe. Dressy casual is the best option for this type of headshot. You are portraying a professional image and brand so you have to be consistent with that.

An acting headshot does not have a defined set of rules as to what you can or cannot wear during a headshot session. However, the wardrobe you choose can greatly impact what types of casting roles you will be selected for. Be strategic when choosing your wardrobe and the style of headshots you choose. This can be discussed with your photographer beforehand, especially if you have a specific style in mind (and if you are aiming for specific types of roles). 


The Bottom Line

To summarise all the differences listed above, the primary difference with a corporate and acting headshot is not the style, background, or the pose. It is in the purpose and intended use of that headshot.

With an acting headshot, you are showcasing to a casting director. It is important that your acting headshot highlights the versatility of your face. You should exhibit your ability to play multiple roles and for your face to fit into various settings (whichever role you are applying for). The goal is for you to fit into the role that they have in mind.

On the other hand, a corporate or business headshot is completely opposite of that. You already know your role. The purpose of a headshot is to be able to showcase who you are, your position, and be confident in expressing that. You want to earn people’s trust by solidifying your personal image and brand. Unlike an acting headshot, you are not trying to fit a role. You want to reinforce the role that you play in your organization. 

Regardless if you are taking a headshot for corporate or acting reasons, they are the same in that you must look comfortable in front of the camera. A warm smile is always a good idea. 

It’s important to do your research beforehand. Know what types of poses and professional looks match your intention. It also helps if you can find a photographer that can accommodate your needs and make you feel comfortable. 

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