Are Model Headshots the Same as Professional Headshots?

All headshots need to be fit for purpose. On a basic level, they should be flattering and compliment the subject. However to be truly effective it’s important to understand who they need to appeal to. The best headshots need to be designed with this in mind.

With over a decade of expertise, at Hero Shot Photography, we excel in designing headshots that resonate with the target audience—whether it’s corporate executives, buyers, or talent agencies. We meticulously tailor each image to meet specific industry standards and objectives. 

Find out the difference between professional or corporate headshots and model headshots. But before that let’s quickly understand the similarity between both.

Similarities between Model and Professional Headshots

There are many similarities between modelling headshots and professional headshots, both are there to show off your best assets and depict a certain type of character, normally painting a picture of confidence and trust.

A model headshot needs to convey as much information as possible within the frame. Top agents are also time-poor and can look at dozens of headshots in a single sitting, so you really need to get as much information across in as little time as possible. Exactly what to show (and what not to show) will depend on the type of niche you’re thinking about entering: fitness, beauty, couture, and swimwear are just a few.

Focus on the Face

Both model and professional headshots prioritise a clear and focused depiction of the face. This focus is crucial as it highlights the subject’s facial features and expressions, which are pivotal in creating a strong personal connection with the viewer. The aim is to draw attention directly to the eyes, smile, and facial contours, which can communicate a lot about a person’s personality and professional demeanour.

High-Quality Photography

The quality of the photography in both types of headshots is essential. High-resolution images with professional lighting and sharp focus are essential to ensure that every detail of the subject’s face is captured with clarity. This quality not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of the headshot but also ensures that it looks professional on all platforms, from print to digital.

Confident Expression

Confidence is key in both model and professional headshots. In model headshots, a confident expression can convey the allure or attitude needed for fashion or advertising. Similarly, in professional headshots, confidence translates into an air of competence and reliability, important traits in any business environment. The subject’s expression, whether it’s a poised smile or a determined gaze, should project self-assurance and approachability, making the headshot more effective in engaging its intended audience.

Key Differences between Model and Professional Headshots

When distinguishing between model and professional headshots, understanding their key differences helps clarify their unique purposes and how they are crafted. Here’s a simple breakdown-

Purpose and Goals

  • Model Headshots: Aimed primarily at showcasing a model’s versatility and appeal for a variety of fashion and advertising projects. These headshots are used to catch the eye of casting directors and fashion industry professionals.
  • Professional Headshots: Focused on conveying a sense of professionalism and competence, typically used in business settings. These are crucial for creating first impressions on professional networking sites, corporate websites, and business materials.

Style and Presentation

  • Model Headshots are often more creative and stylized, highlighting different aspects of a model’s personality and range. The style can vary greatly depending on the requirements of the modelling industry or specific roles.
  • Professional Headshots are more conservative and uniform, aiming to project approachability and trustworthiness. The style remains relatively constant, emphasizing the individual’s professional demeanour.

Retouching Techniques

  • Model Headshots:Extensive retouching might be used to create a flawless look that meets the high aesthetic standards of the fashion industry.
  • Professional Headshots: Minimal retouching is preferred to maintain authenticity and a true representation of the individual’s appearance.

Lighting on the Set

  • Model Headshots: May use dramatic or artistic lighting to enhance the model’s features and suit the creative direction of the shoot.
  • Professional Headshots: Typically employs even and soft lighting to avoid shadows and highlights, ensuring the face is clearly and evenly lit for a friendly and professional look.


  • Model Headshots: These can include a range of poses, from dynamic to subtle, to display the model’s ability to adapt to different styles and roles.
  • Professional Headshots: Generally straightforward, with the subject usually looking directly at the camera to create a sense of engagement and confidence


Having a deep understanding of lighting is crucial not only to light the face in the most flattering way but also to carve out the definition in the physique. Sometimes these two goals can compete with one another as most of us want a soft and smooth texture to the face but a harder and more defined texture on the body.

Here are a few images from a professional session at our Sydney headshot studio, which was extended to include some images she could use for a model portfolio. It was her first time being photographed so basic coaching on posing and posture was needed but she took to it like a pro. It was great to work with her and help create a variety of images to start a fitness portfolio, including a killer headshot that also hints at her toned physique killing two birds with one stone.

Photography by Sammer Affridi @ Hero Shot Photography

Detailed Discussion on Each Headshot Type

Model Headshots

Model headshots are primarily used in the fashion and entertainment industries. They are essential for portfolios and are often the first point of contact between models and casting directors or agencies. These headshots need to showcase the model’s versatility and unique traits that make them suitable for various roles and fashion styles.

Styling Tips

  • Diversity in Looks: Models should aim to include a variety of styles in their headshots to demonstrate their range, from casual and sporty to high-fashion and formal.
  • Highlight Features: Styling should emphasise the model’s best features, such as eye colour, bone structure, or unique attributes.
  • Minimal Accessories: Keep accessories to a minimum to focus attention on the model’s face and expression.

Photography Tips

  • Dynamic Lighting: Use lighting that enhances facial features and can create mood or drama as required.
  • Varied Angles: Experiment with different angles to capture various aspects of the model’s versatility.
  • High Resolution: Ensure photographs are high resolution to capture detailed expressions and skin texture, important for close-up shots.

Professional Headshots

Professional headshots are used in business contexts, including company websites, LinkedIn profiles, and other professional networking platforms. They are designed to convey credibility, professionalism, and approachability, helping to establish a strong first impression in the corporate world.

Styling Tips

  • Conservative Looks: Opt for classic and conservative outfits like business suits or simple blouses with neutral colours that convey professionalism.
  • Grooming is Key: Ensure impeccable grooming—neat hair, minimal makeup, and clean, pressed clothing.
  • Consistent Style: Keep a consistent style that aligns with your industry’s norms and your professional role.

Photography Tips

  • Soft, Even Lighting: Utilise soft and even lighting to avoid harsh shadows and highlight natural facial expressions.
  • Simple Backgrounds: Use plain backgrounds that won’t distract from the subject.
  • Eye Contact: Direct the subject to make eye contact with the camera to create a sense of engagement and confidence.


At Hero Shot Photography, we understand the distinct purposes of model and professional headshots. Model headshots showcase versatility for the fashion industry, while professional headshots convey credibility in business settings. 

Our expertise ensures that each headshot is crafted with precision, tailored to meet industry-specific demands with the right styling, lighting, and posing. A well-executed headshot is a key professional tool, and our commitment to quality at Hero Shot guarantees that your image will make a lasting impression. 

Let us help you open new doors with a headshot that stands out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Model headshots are designed to display versatility and appeal to casting directors in the fashion and entertainment industries. Professional headshots aim to convey credibility and professionalism, often used in business contexts to create a trustworthy first impression.

Model headshots can be stylistically diverse and creative, highlighting different facets of a model’s personality and potential roles. Professional headshots are generally more conservative and uniform, focusing on portraying a polished and approachable image.

Neutral colours like navy, grey, and black are ideal as they convey professionalism. Lighter colours such as white or pale blue can also be effective, particularly against a darker background to create contrast.

Minimal retouching is recommended to keep the headshot authentic. Simple corrections like removing blemishes or slight adjustments to lighting are acceptable, but the headshot should remain a true representation of you.

Yes, including a variety of poses that display different expressions and angles can demonstrate versatility. From direct, engaging looks to more thoughtful, profile views, each pose can highlight different aspects of a model’s potential.

Generally, no. Professional headshots are tailored for business contexts and may not showcase the versatility and creativity often required in model portfolios.

Simple, non-distracting backgrounds are best to ensure the focus remains on the model. Solid colours like grey or muted tones can help accentuate the model’s features without competing for attention.

It’s advisable to update model headshots whenever your appearance changes significantly or at least every one to two years to reflect current trends and your evolving look.

Focus on a clean, neat appearance with smart-casual attire appropriate to your field. Ensure the headshot is well-lit, and maintain a confident, approachable expression.

Prepare by considering wardrobe choices that offer a range of looks, practice different expressions and poses, and ensure good grooming. Discuss with your photographer the goals of your portfolio to tailor the session to your specific needs.

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