History and future of Heashot Photography


The terminology, headshot was adopted by the movie industry through a popular movie director that often complained about his actors portraits. “Mug Shot, Mug Shot, why do they send me mug shots I want professional portraits”. Inversely the casting agents modified the term mug shot to headshots when speaking to their clients. Eventually it became a definition for a portrait used for casting exclusive to the movie industry in an 8X10 print attached to their resume. In those days actor’s and dignitaries were the main people purchasing professional portraits of themselves.

In the 90’s realtor’s realized that having a self portrait inside the business card increased the ratio of calls vs handouts. Eventually, the terminology of a head shot was passed onto the profession of Real Estate. Today, its difficult to walk more than two blocks any direction, without running into a Realtor’s Headshot.

In my early years as a photographer in Vancouver I would spend 85% of my business photographing weddings and about 10% creating headshots for performers. In 2009, I decided to rebrand and specialize in headshots and nothing else. Now, most of my business is dealing with Corporate Headshots.

Over the last few years, companies have been changing their “about us page”, with professional portraits. Soon it will be incomprehensible for a professional agency to have mug shots of people.

Corporations improve their customer engagement dramatically by having headshots incorporated in the branding materials. One great example is Richmond Chrysler who has printed headshots of all its sales people in the walls, and in the about us page. Clients experience a progressive auto company that has professionals rather than sales people jumping at any chance to sell a car. That is communicated in a sub-conscious manner throughout the experience by seeing the portraits of the sales people.

Inversely, some professionals add an image of themselves without an understanding of the importance of having a professional portrait that increases the engagement. Make your own study if interested by googling realtor’s and a city of choice. e.g “New York Realtor’s “, image search. I find realtor’s that look like they are going clubbing, an angry sales person with a shiny head, portraits taken in their backyard and a wonderful grandmother with her dog. Most of these headshots detract me from wanting to contact the realtors, the realtors are losing possible revenue by having images that don’t make any sense.

Here is a client, a hearing audiologist who is deaf and has a blind dog. Would you trust her? Does she invite you to see her? Would you prefer to do business with the Disco Realtor (image not shown as its not mine and your imagination can fill in the blank)?

What is a headshot?

Often clients ask me about looking good… Do you want to look good, or do you want to have a business with integrity, quality and outstanding services? We like to produce a headshot that will bring out the best in you rather than a portrait that resembles you but looks like a cartoon.

Headshot is a modern portrait for branding, online engagement or the merging of a corporations branding with its people.

Looking great does not mean being 40 and looking like a 20 yrs old, but rather looking like a business professional that has experience and youth. A great headshot engages through peoples thoughts and experiences. A headshot builds a relationship with the viewer welcoming them to engage with the person or company associated with the headshot.

Headshot is also used in hockey to define an illegal hit that may cause a player to have a concussion. Gamers will use the terminology headshot for hitting a target in the head.

How to use a headshot?

You went out and invested in a professional headshot session and wondered what you can do with a headshot? Will it make you money what is the ROI (return on investment) on a headshot?

1) If you own a website add your image to the “about us page”, now your potential clients will have an understanding of the visionary behind your business.

2) LinkedIn is the Facebook of business connections. Your new image may remind clients of your service, or remember you for the next time.

3) All other social media, such as a Facebook business page, Twitter, Pinterest and specialty site’s for your industry.

4) Google+ and Gmail accounts are another great source for branding and customer retention.

5) Fliers and business cards could be a great utilization of the headshot.  Fliers, Poster’s and arguably business cards.

Future of Headshots

The old meets new. There was a time when every professional would hire an artist to paint their portraits. Now, we are returning to professional images of ourselves to engage with our existing and potential clients. In the future this article will not be an innovation, but a standard of matter of fact.


Art of Headshots specializes in corporate and professional headshots for websites, social media like LinkedIn, and advertising. We have over 13 years of experience guiding you into authentic and professional portraits.

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