Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been asked a couple of times if headshots should be in portrait orientation (vertical) or landscape (horizontal).  Once upon a time, no one would have considered doing headshots horizontally.  However, times change and now either is perfectly acceptable and both are considered an industry standard.  It really comes down to what you like. Personally,for acting headshots and professional headshots, I shoot horizontally, although if you ask me I will turn the camera and shoot a few the other way for you.  

Here’s why I prefer horizontal headshots.

We are used to looking at things in landscape.

When you watch a video on your phone, which way do you hold it?

What shape is your computer screen?

Your TV?

A movie screen?

…see where I’m going?  Many ways that we consume content is composed on a horizontal layout.  Flip through my headshot galleries, then next time you watch a movie notice that many of the close-ups are framed the same way I compose headshots. 

Give your viewers some space!

I really like some negative space in the images. It’s “less claustrophobic”.  For me, when someone is really tight in a vertical headshot, my eye tends to wonder rather than focusing on what is most important, your face. which leads me to…

Stop the scroll.

Think about your profile picture.  You do not have a lot of room to get your information across in that small space.  If you crop down a vertical shot, you often end up with a lot of your body and your face in the shot.  Your face cannot be seen as well so it loses impact.  The purpose of your headshot is to let casting directors, customers, employers, and even dates notice you.  It’s highly likely they’ll be scrolling through some form of social media, database, or directory when they see you.  Your image needs to stop the scroll!

…and finally.

It is pretty easy to crop a horizontal shot to a vertical shot in post-production.  It may not be possible to do the same thing with a vertical shot