Headshot Booking Jargon

Headshot Photography Terms

Are you planning on booking a professional headshot session but feeling overwhelmed by all the industry jargon? Fret not, as we are here to help you discover the essential headshot photography terms before scheduling your next photo shoot.

Whether you’re a model, actor, or simply in need of a high-quality headshot for your LinkedIn profile, understanding these terms will not only make the process easier but also ensure that you get the best possible results from your session. So, let’s dive into the world of professional photography and uncover some must-know jargon!

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Here is your essential glossary of headshot photography terms, covering everything from headshots and branding to digital images and image files.

Booking a headshot can be a confusing and stressful process. Standing in front of the camera, for most of us, is one of the biggest fears (next to climbing heights). So when it comes to booking a photographer the pressure is on us to make the right decision for our business.

Confusing and ambiguous language on a photographer’s website can add stress and overwhelm to the already daunting process of booking a headshot.

We’ll cover:

  • The difference between a portrait and a headshot
  • Other terms for ‘photograph’
  • Whether a sitting fee is different from a retainer

Headshot photographer terms graphic

Do I need a headshot, lifestyle, or branding package?

Modernisation has brought changes to the good old-fashioned portrait.

Let’s take a look at these examples. A headshot is a close-up photograph that is a true likeness of yourself (on a good day). These are often used as avatars on social media or ‘about’ pages on websites.

Branding photography is much broader and has a storytelling narrative that shows the values, mission statements, and founder stories of your business. They will include people, products, and assets linked to the company.  Here I photographed Nic from the Floral Boutique to showcase her new studio and the brief was the produce photographs that were organic, natural, and comforting.

Lifestyle is broader still and could include families, and dating websites as in this photo and are often taken outside or in a place of businesses, such as a leather maker’s studio.

I often complete an expresso headshot session and ask if they’d like a more relaxed portrait by the window for a loved one. And the answer is almost always, ‘yes’.

headshot photography terms graphic

Unlock the Secrets of Headshot Photography Terms and Booking Confidence


When in doubt, ask the photographer to guide you by discussing these questions:

  1. What do you need these photos for?
  2. Where will you use them?
  3. Where will your clients see them?
  4. Would you like a portrait for a loved one too?
  5. Will you be posting these on social media, or do you prefer to keep them private?

By discussing questions with your photographer before your session, you can gain a better understanding of the services they offer and what to expect.

Not only will you learn the technical jargon used in photography, but it also creates an opportunity to build trust and establish a strong relationship with your photographer.

Additionally, discussing these things upfront provides clarity around the process and outcome, managing expectations from the start.

By doing so, everyone can be on the same page, ensuring that you receive exactly what you need at the end of your session.

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headshot photograhpy terms

What do I get – a photograph or a digital file?

There are 2 questions I get asked the most:

  1. I just need a small photo for my avatar, is it the same price?
  2. What is a digital file, I need a photograph.

Photographers often use different terms interchangeably, which can lead to confusion. It is an attempt to differentiate between purchasing a photograph as a digital file and a print that may be framed or presented in an album.

My best advice is to check with your photographer when you ask for their pricing guide.

headshot photography terms graphicAm I paying a sitting fee or a deposit?

Every photographer’s website is unique and so is their pricing plan. You might hear all of these terms: sitting fee, session fee, retainer, deposit, booking fee, and more!

Regardless of the terms, be mindful that:

  • Your session is booked when the photographer has been paid, often there is a 3 days grace period before the dates are offered to someone else.
  • The fee pays for the booking or session and is often not refunded.

Sometimes images are included in the price. Sometimes you are offered a ‘print credit’. And sometimes everything is a la carte. No wonder we’re confused!

Remember, your session is booked only when the photographer has been paid. Check your client contract, and make sure to discuss the pricing and terms with your photographer to avoid any misunderstandings.

headshot photograhy terms

So, 3 things. Really simple:

  • ask for a portrait session and let the photographer guide you
  • double-check if you need to pay extra for prints
  • check the client contract to avoid disappointment

I hope you find these tips useful. Until next time. Remember. If you need to make some important decisions in your business and you aren’t sure which direction to go in. Drop me a message. Let me help.

headshots for branded emails

More from this series:

Please contact the Isle of Wight Studio at +44 (0)1983 617383 or Mandy at +44 (0)7719316609, email info@amandaherbert.com, and let me know why you need new photos!


Please contact Mandy at Mobile: +44 (0)7719316609

Seaview Home Studio at Phone: +44 (0)1983 617383



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