Headshot or portraits by nicole bedard

Headshot vs. Portrait: Which Is Right For Your Creative Business?

Did you know that your creative business may not need headshots at all? 

Yep, it’s true! 

They are often important in a traditional setting for things like employee directories and ID badges but, as a creative business owner, you may not necessarily need them. 

White this may be true, it doesn’t mean you don’t need photos of yourself at all.

As a business owner, it’s crucial to develop visibility and trust with your audience, and stepping out from behind your business and in front of the camera can help achieve that.

But, instead of just taking traditional headshots, have you considered environmental photos

In this blog post, we’ll explore what environmental photos are, how they differ from headshots, and why both images matter. I’ll help you determine which type of imagery best suits your needs as a creative entrepreneur so you can find the right brand photographer to capture the essence of your brand.

The Difference Between a Headshot and an Environmental Portrait

So you’re probably wondering, 

“Is there really a difference between a headshot and an environmental portrait?”

They are both, after all, images of your face. 

While they may seem one and the same, they actually serve very different purposes and people frequently mix them up!

Often my clients come to me thinking they want a headshot, when really what they mean is they want an environmental portrait.

So how do you know which type of photography is right for your creative business: headshots or environmental portraits?

Headshots are tightly cropped images with a solid background that typically focus on your face and shoulders. Most of the time headshots are taken in a photography studio. They’re often used for identification and branding purposes. Many industries like law firms, real estate agencies, or a board of directors still need and use headshots. 

Nicole Bedard Photo + Video-Portraits with Jewel tones
Headshot Tip: Not sure what to wear for your headshots? Jewel tones are my go-to! Make sure the color contrasts with your background for a striking photo! If you need more inspiration for your photoshoot wardrobe or different colorways check out this free guide. No matter what you wear– be comfortable! You might also consider getting your hair and makeup done for your shoot. But, don’t get hung up if you don’t have a makeup artist on speed dial!  Lean on your brand photographer for referrals!

But for creative businesses and personal brands, headshots might NOT be what you need. In my experience, environmental portraits are much more powerful and interesting.


Because an environmental portrait is designed to capture you in a specific location or setting such as your studio, workshop, or office space. The goal isn’t just to capture an image of your face (in fact, I’m a big fan of seated poses). It’s to showcase your expertise, passions, and most importantly, your personality so that you can build trust with your audience and clients. 

Nicole Bedard Photo + Video environmental portraits
Portrait Tip: Showcase your unique personality by including props! You can reveal who you are by including props like books you love, journals, the calendar you use, mugs, trinkets from traveling, or awards you have won. All of these items tell a story and help your audience see you as the person behind the brand so they can better connect with you and the work you do!

Whether you decide to take a headshot, an environmental portrait, or both, be sure that the photographer you hire specializes in the type of imagery you need! If you need a headshot, you’ll likely want to hire a studio photographer. On the other hand, if you need environmental portraits, it’s best to work with someone who will do on-location sessions. While a photographer may offer both kinds of brand photography, I highly suggest you work with a photographer who is able to create a strategy for your business’ imagery so that every single photo captures what makes you and your creative business so unique!

How To Use Your Headshots and Environmental Portraits

Once you’ve posed for your headshot or portrait, it’s time to put those images to good use! Your social media platforms are an excellent place to start. Here are 3 of my favorite ways to use branded headshots and portraits in your creative business. 

  1. Reintroduce yourself once per quarter. Include your title, what you offer, and how people can work with you! Don’t worry about feeling repetitive. You likely have new followers who would love to “meet” you. And the audience members who have stuck around? It never hurts to show your face and remind them of what you offer! Plus, people need to hear things an average of 7 times before it sinks in! In fact, in marketing, it’s called the Rule of 7. 
  2. Share a WIN you had in your business that week, month, or quarter. Stop worrying about feeling braggy. You need to become your #1 cheerleader! Sharing your wins not only shows your audience what you’re capable of but also helps them envision the kind of transformation you could deliver for them if and when they decide to work with you or invest in your product!
  3. Provide a helpful tip related to your product or service. Make sure it’s something valuable and actionable! Remember: any time you offer a tip, you’re giving your audience a meaningful glimpse of what it’s like to work with you or use your product. Not sure where to start? Survey your audience to find out what they’re wondering related to your industry!

Some other low-lift high-impact ways to use your headshots and portraits include sharing how you got started in your industry, what you wish you knew when you first started your business, or 5 fun facts about you or your creative brand! 

Some other strategic places to share your new headshot:

  • Email signature line
  • Print marketing
  • Digital ads
  • Business Cards
  • LinkedIn Profile 

Showing your face and humanizing your brand will go a long way when it comes to your marketing efforts!

Choosing Your Brand Imagery 

While traditional headshots are important in some industries, creative businesses and personal brands often benefit more from environmental portraits that allow you to show your process and personality.

Both types of imagery can be useful for your business, depending on your needs. 

At the end of the day, no matter what kind of imagery you capture, what matters most is stepping out from behind your business and into the spotlight so that your audience can get to know you and learn about what makes your business so unique!

Still need help deciding which type of photo is right for your creative business?

I’m here to help!

Click here to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can use brand imagery to tell your story, grow your business, and get results.

Looking To Learn More About Brand Photography?

I’m leading my first online course called, The Business of Brand Photography.

It’s live, interactive, and cohort-based so you can get the most personalized experience possible!

Over 3 weeks I’ll invite you to ditch the stale branding questionnaire and instead learn my proven framework for creating impactful brand photography sessions for business owners.

I’m excited to share my insights and help you achieve your goals.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from my decades of experience as a photographer and small business owner. 

Register now to join our cohort starting on July 11, 2023. 

Let’s build your brand photography business together! Click here to learn more and secure your spot!

business of brand photography course

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