What are the 5 Different Types of Headshot? PART ONE

Different types of Headshot

Watch This Episode of Mwah TV

In this video, I’m gonna talk you through the first part of a 2 part special on the five different types of headshot photography.

Understanding these differences is gonna give you the right information so that you can find the perfect headshots photographer for your business needs.

If you’ve been researching headshots photography recently and you’re a little bit confused as to how there are so many different types and styles and names for all of these headshots, this is the episode for you.

What are the 5 Different Types of Headshot? PART ONE

We’re gonna dive into all of the five categories of different types of headshots so that you’re in a much better position when it comes to finding the right headshots photographer for you. You’re gonna feel a lot more in control on how you’re gonna debrief your headshots photographer.

And let’s face it, with this new information, you can dazzle people at the next cocktail party you’re at. You never know, you might book work if you’re in the creative industries and people are gonna swoon at your new different types of headshots knowledge!


The classic headshot is the oldest kind of headshot there is. We know this from our photography history books, so this is the classic tight crop of head and shoulders in a photo. It identifies the best version of you for a wide range of different uses. This could be for going on a casting call or a go-see, it could be to use in the inlay of your books or like the about the author headshot or as it’s commonly referred to as the mugshot, you may find a headshot like this in your police file.

In its simplest form, the classic headshot is a flattering identifying tool. So that means it’s just describing all of the features on your head and face in a visual format. In it’s more complex and refined form, it’s presenting you to the world in your most flattering light.

With the classic headshot, the photographer imposes their style and approach to taking a headshot. So this is why if you are a model for example and you joined a model agency, they would have a uniform style of headshot that they can put it on their wall to show their latest faces and all of those shots usually match in one way or another.

What to expect from a Classic Headshot

With the classic headshot, you can expect one photograph. So one image, one headshot. Usually, the photographer knows the second that they’ve taken that shot as well. So it’s an instinctive reaction. You might have a 10-minute shoot, you might have a three-hour shoot, but you will end up with one image and the photographer will probably end the session at the minute that they know they’ve got the shot.

Let’s take a look at one of my Classic Headshot Examples…

Different types of Headshot
Shot by Laura Pearman Photography

So in this example, I booked a job shooting for ND Makeup. They were running one of their prestigious advanced makeup courses, there was a class full of makeup artists and they had to bring their own models. So this was a shot taken for student Chloe, to use in her makeup portfolio. She was demonstrating a stripped back look and then a more “made up” look as well. Similarly, though, the model who you see in this image, could, in theory, use this image to add to her book, her portfolio, so when she goes on casting calls, she has an example of herself in this style.


Number two is the branded headshot. Now, this is having a little bit of a moment, especially within the entrepreneurial space. The term branded headshot is overly used and bandied around, but it’s often misunderstood.

So compared to the classic headshot, a branded headshot is gonna be a little bit more of a varied photo session and where the photographer is gonna be looking at getting lots of different crops. So yes, sure, you might say a tight crop of you, but usually, it’s gonna be a wider crop of you and the photographer is gonna get you to pose in lots of different places and positions during the shoot. It’s important that this part of the shoot is well-choreographed in order to bring out the brand message that you’re trying to invoke through the photos. This is where it gets misunderstood.

So you can do great poses to make yourself look cool and flattering, but if it doesn’t match the point and the reason that you’re shooting the photos to share your business story, there’s gonna be a little bit of a jar there and that’s gonna stop it from being a branded headshot.


Brand colour is also infused into the photoshoot in the way that it’s planned. Things are very carefully thought out with the composition and the styling. Now compared to the classic headshot, the photographer’s personal photographic style, is gonna play second fiddle to you. Your brand message and the overall reason that you’re shooting the images will prevail.

What to expect from a Branded Headshot

With a collection of varied shots from the same session, you’re gonna have a small collection of visual assets that you can use to present yourself to the world and those images match the copy that goes next to them. So it’s all about a very coherent, very clear business message.

Now when you flip it back and you look at the photographer’s body of work, you’re gonna see quite a varied result. It’s not all gonna be the same sort of light, you might see a clear signature style. This style may not be as clear as if you were looking at say, a wedding photographer who has a very clear approach to how all of their images work. You’re gonna see variances in the way that the image has been lit from shoot to shoot. This is because the photographer is trying to help that business owner invoke their messages.

Let’s take a look at one of my examples of a Branded Headshot…

Different types of Headshot
Laura Cumming Full Sch-Whammy Headshots Session 2018

More on this Shoot

This was a full Sch-Whammy headshot session I did with finance and abundance expert, Laura Cook. That rich purple colour you can see there on her jumper is part of her brand colours shoot. Laura has a lot of rich jewel tones. The reason she has jewel tones is very closely connected to what it is that she does. She’s talking about living in abundance. So speaking a lot about living your life of success through these very carefully considered financial methods and techniques.

It was really important we show Laura in her most abundant and successful self.

More on Branded Headshots Planning

We wanted to develop a collection of aspirational branded headshots. This was to show what it’s like when you get to that level of success. Laura loves the outdoors and she loves spending time with her horse. That’s why we have this outdoorsy vibe going on in this headshot. This was taken within the grounds of a stately home. I had arranged for us to do a whole set of different branded headshots in different parts of that stately home to help set that scene of abundance. READ PART TWO HERE

Learn more about my approach to Branded Headshots

In this episode of Mwah TV, I mentioned my preferred approach to headshots photography.  You can see how I do this in more detail by taking a copy of my latest services here.  I’ll send a copy to your inbox. 

My Latest Collection of Photography Services

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Get Some More Inspo

You can head directly to the Business Headshots Gallery to see more of my clients’ results and get ideas for how you would like to shoot with me for yourself. GALLERIES

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