Environmental vs. Studio Headshots

Did you know that a great headshot has the potential to introduce you to your next client or increase your visibility with your target audience?  Professional headshots give the viewer a glimpse into your uniqueness and can help you make a connection with them.  As a result, planning and designing your headshot session is important to ensure you present your desired look.  One detail to consider when planning your headshot session is environmental headshots vs. studio headshots. 

Environmental Headshots

Environmental headshots provide a more natural setting because they are usually photographed outdoors or in the natural working environment of the person within the headshot.  Some consider environmental headshots to provide a more relaxed or relatable feel to the headshot.  While some environmental headshots are photographed in natural lighting, I prefer to elevate the look of the environmental headshots I photograph by including studio lighting in the session.  When photographing environmental headshots and branding portraits, I like to achieve an overall natural feeling to the headshot while also ensuring that my client stands out and is the primary point of focus.

More to Consider About Environmental Headshots

When comparing environmental headshots vs. studio headshots, a downside to environmental headshots is that the background has the potential to provide a distraction to the headshot.  The key to a great headshot is creating it so that all attention is drawn to the face, eyes, and expression of the person within the headshot.  When a background has many visual components in it, the viewer’s eyes read all of that information along with the person in the image.  As a result, the headshot can become less impactful because it is drawing attention away from the eyes and face.  And in some cases, the image might lend more towards a portrait than a true headshot. The next examples are great images and serve more as a portrait than a traditional headshot. 


Studio Headshots

Studio headshots excel in that they offer a distraction-free background which draws the viewer’s attention to the face of the person in the headshot, especially the eyes and expression.  Another advantage to studio headshots is that they can provide overall consistency when the headshot is used within a business or website page that displays other headshots.

More to Consider About Studio Headshots

While a studio backdrop can provide a consistent and distraction-free background, for some clients the studio setting can feel too contrived or posed.  In these cases, the environmental headshot might be better suited.  Better yet, knowing that studio headshots can be powerful for your branding message, you might possibly consider ways to play up the studio headshot.  One way to level up your studio headshot is by adding color within your image.  Read more about that here.

Executive Team Headshot on gray background of guy with red hair wearing black jacket and red tie

Which is better: Environmental or Studio Headshots

Essentially, either of these types of headshots has the power to create an impactful headshot when photographed with the intention to make the person within the headshot the primary point of focus.  Hiring a professional headshot photographer can help guarantee you receive the results you desire.  Consider these two headshots below.  It’s the same client.  I photographed them very similarly, yet on two different backgrounds. One background has the distraction free studio look, and the other has more of an environmental background.  Both resulted in headshots with impact for the client.  The answer to the question of which is better can best be answered by client preference and client intended use for the headshots.

And Even More to Consider

Choosing the desired background for your session is only one important thing to consider when planning your headshot.  Choosing what you will wear is also very important for deciding the look you want to present.  Professional headshot photographers usually offer guidance and assistance with planning what to wear for your headshot session. 

About Violet June Photography

At Violet June Photography, designing portrait sessions that are tailored to my clients’ needs and preferences is my goal.  I have found that in collaborating with my clients, we are able to create images that they love, feel connected to, and are excited to share with their friends, family, and target client audience.  If you are considering a portrait session, feel free to contact me so that we can discuss the session you envision.