Headshot Crop Ratios
Choosing A Crop Ratio:
Headshots are generally head and shoulders, but there’s a lot more to consider. Many people are moving away from the standard tight headshot crop, and opting for a range of mid-length branding images that show a little more of who they are. But we’ll dive into this later.
When it comes to an actual head and shoulders headshot, the final crop is an important consideration. You can choose from various different cropping options depending on the desired outcome of your image. For various uses, different crops might be more suitable. You could find that your company website wants a vertical crop of your headshot to go on their team page. For the same image, a square crop might work better on your LinkedIn profile and other social media accounts.
This exact reason is why I started providing all my clients with several cropping options of their images. Not to mention, I’m a little indecisive and often like the effects of more than one crop style too. So let’s have a look at the different crops below.
2×3 – Horizontal Crop:
When using a full-frame DSLR or Mirrorless system, 2×3 is the in-camera ratio. It means when I’m composing my headshots and portraits through the viewfinder, this is the full-size ratio that I’m seeing. For my head and shoulder images, I shoot horizontally mostly, to allow for that extra room in the image. It allows me to capture full-width of the shoulders, and create a cinematic style portrait (as is popular for actor headshots).
2×3 – Vertical Crop:
As above, the 2×3 ratio allows me to look through the viewfinder, and compose for a full image. It’s a standard size photographically and shares the same ratio with common print sizes (from 6×4″ to 20×30″ – for example).
Often I will use the 2×3 ratio in a vertical crop to provide my clients with a more traditional portrait orientation of their headshot.
1×1 – Square Crop:
I always provide my clients with a square crop of their headshots. Shooting horziontally allows me to do this seamlessly. I can create a square crop that still includes full width of the shoulders, or, I can crop in closer to get a tighter view of the face. Remember, you can crop in but you can’t crop out. My clients are provided with a full-width shot so they have the option of cropping themselves if they need. Such as on LinkedIn and Facebook, which allow in-app cropping when a photo is uploaded as a profile photo.
4×5 – Crop:
4×5 is a flattering rectangular crop, that can go either portrait or landscape. In headshot photography, 4×5 is typically cropped as a vertical, and in the past has been an industry standard across actor headshots. I like this crop as it gives a nice balance between rectangular and square. It might be that it balances out your ‘about me’ webpage better than a 2×3 vertical crop does. It really depends on the outcome you’re going for, and what works best for you.
Panoramic crops allow for versatile use in banners and footers, across websites. For those needing panoramic images for website banners, printed marketing, and LinkedIn profile covers, I photograph wider. This often means a headshot turns into a mid-length shot, but it does give us versatility in the results.
Moving Beyond Head And Shoulders:
A popular shift across personal branding photography is to move beyond just a standard head and shoulder ‘headshot’. My clients and I work together to capture a range of relevant imagery to showcase them at their best. This includes full-length images and mid-length images. Often, people find these to be more relaxed. It allows the use of body language to be another tool to communicate who they are, what they do, and what it is like to be in their presence. We get to explore more poses this way, and we can even show people ‘at work’ – whether this be at their workplace, sitting at a desk, reading a book, or having a client meeting. Personal branding photography is making a big leap across small businesses and individuals. People love to see you doing what you do best.
You don’t need to stick to just one.
As I mentioned, a part of my service is supplying a range of various crops that can be used across different platforms. Having a square crop is important for LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media accounts. It also allows you to use your headshot across email thumbnails (like in Gmail). A vertical crop might fit in nicely next to your bio on your website, or a horizontal crop might work centred on a webpage.
Whatever it is you need, remember you can always crop in, and not out. If you have a particular cropping requirement or idea, talk with whoever your photographer is, to make sure you’re on the same page.
Are you still needing to book in for some updated headshots?
Check out my sessions for business headshots, actor headshots, and Staff headshots.
Julia Nance is a headshot and portrait photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her vibrant creativity is inspired by her experiences. From photographing whales underwater to travelling in Europe. With a vast background in a range of photographic areas, it is Julia’s natural ability to connect with her subjects that ultimately drew her to the art of portraiture.
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