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Corporate Vs Acting Photos: What Is the Difference?

Have you noticed that the concept of booking high-end headshot sessions has become increasingly popular in the corporate world recently? While this was once an activity reserved mostly for actors, it has slowly entered the business world as well, and there must be a reason for it. Thinking that the photos you put on your digital profiles are not that important, and still wanting to be a serious name in the business world is definitely quite wrong.

So, you need a headshot, don’t you? Yet, if you don’t have any experience in this world, you won’t know what type of a headshot you need, and you may leave the site assuming you got the perfect photo, even though you didn’t. It’s quite easy for people who don’t have experience to mistake any photo for a good one, as long as it is taken with a professional camera. There’s much more to it, though.

For starters, there’s the need for knowing the difference between corporate and acting photos, so that’s the first thing you need to learn. And then, of course, understanding how and where to actually get your perfect headshot, is also a must. We’ll take it one thing at a time when answering these questions, starting, of course, with explaining the difference between corporate and acting photos.

What Are the Differences Between Corporate and Acting Photos?

Why do you even need to know this difference in the first place? Because not knowing it could lead to you choosing the wrong photographer. It’s as simple as that. So, if aiming at choosing the perfect photographer, and you sure should, you’ll need to understand this difference first. There are a few crucial differences to know, so let me list them for you right now.


Every layman knows that good lighting is a must for a good photo. Not everyone knows, though, that professionals are not dealing with one type of lighting for all their clients and that the purpose of taking the photo changes the lighting needs. Put simply, the lighting won’t be the same for acting and for corporate photos, so that’s the first difference to keep in mind here.

Typically taken directly against the paper backdrop, acting photos will have a slight shadow to the background, giving them a kind of an artistic vibe. On the other hand, corporate photos don’t do well with a shadow, meaning that it has to be removed for the background, which is why they are typically taken with something called a “back light”. You don’t have to know all the terms yourself and you don’t have to know what it all means, but understanding that this difference in lighting exists will certainly make it clear just how important it is to choose the right photographer.


The style of these two types of photographs will also be quite different. And, usually, there are three stylistic elements to consider when trying to understand this difference. Some of those depend on you, but most depend on the photographer. Attire is the first stylistic element to keep in mind, and it is the one that depends on you. While corporate headshots are taken in professional or semi-professional attire, there are no such requirements for acting headshots and they are more usually taken casual attire.

The backdrop is the next element and, once again, you don’t have to understand it fully, because the professional you’ll work with is the one in charge of knowing all about this. When you, for instance, contact or any other professional for a headshot, they will know that corporate photos have to be taken on a neutral or a medium-tone grey backdrop, as well as that blue, yellow, or outdoor settings can come into play in certain instances. While there are no specific guidelines for acting photographs, they are usually taken on a neutral background, so that the focus is on the person.

Posing, as the third element, is something that the professional will explain as well. Although, actors will probably know all about it already, having taken numerous of these in the past. Cropped fairly closely, the range of poses for acting photos is quite limited. On the other hand, corporate headshots are usually taken “straight up”, and while there are no set poses, the one with your arms crossed is quite popular in the business world.


The goal of the headshots you’re taking will also be different for corporate and for acting ones. With a corporate one, you’ll want to show your potential clients that you’re confident, professional, competent and trustworthy. The acting one, however, has the goal to show the director that you’re the best person for a specific role they are casting. A good photographer will understand the difference between those two goals, meaning that they’ll know how to adjust the setting and how to guide you through the entire process and towards your perfect headshot.

How to Get Your Perfect Headshot?

So, how can you actually get that perfect headshot? Say you need a corporate one. Your main focus needs to be on finding the perfect photographer that can actually provide you with that particular type, and getting that part wrong is what can lead to ultimately being unhappy with the photo. So, it’s all about the professional you choose, meaning you should understand just how important it is to take your time to choose wisely.

When making that choice, remember to check out the websites of the professionals, because that’s where you’ll find examples of their work, as well as some comments that previous clients have written, explaining how happy or unhappy they might have been with the entire service. Asking around and possibly talking to some past clients directly should also be helpful, so remember to do that. And, of course, checking and comparing the costs of this service is also a must, but you should always keep in mind that paying more for a great headshot is better than paying less for a poor quality one.