I'm looking for the word that describes the portrait style photos used to advertise yourself to the world. You often see these in the context of a law firm or theater artist profile. Would profile be an adequate term?

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    To clarify: The portraits you're talking about are called head shots, but they're used to promote people, not businesses. Which are you asking about? – Bradd Szonye May 7 '13 at 0:08
  • Actually, @BraddSzonye, headshots can be as much about the company as they are the person in the picture. Either way, I think headshot is the best word too. :-) – Kristina Lopez May 7 '13 at 1:42
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    @KristinaLopez Interesting. I would expect environmental portraits to be more common to promote a business (unless it's a personality-driven business like a law firm). – Bradd Szonye May 7 '13 at 2:10
  • @BraddSzonye I'm thinking of a personal business like a law firm. I think head shot works.. but there might be a word that describes an environmental and personal portrait (where the focus is the people but they are set in an environment instead of a solid color background)? – David Cowden May 7 '13 at 8:02
  • I'm not aware of any terms for promotional portraits in general. Photographers have a variety of jargon to describe the angle and scope of a portrait, like three-quarter view, profile, head and shoulders, mid-length, and so on, but promotional pictures are simply called environmental if they show somebody in context and head shots if not. – Bradd Szonye May 7 '13 at 19:33

Portraits for self-promotion are called head shots. They are especially common in the entertainment, modeling, and publishing industries.

[EDIT May 08, 2013]

The general term is publicity photo. They are common in the entertainment, modeling, and publishing industries. Publicity photos take two major forms:

  • Head shots are the more common form, typically featuring the subject’s head and shoulders with a neutral background. The term is derived from the camera angle used for the portrait.

  • Environmental portraits show the subject in context such as a work environment.

Note that head shot usually refers specifically to publicity photos, whereas environmental portrait refers to a broader genre of photography that includes fine art portraiture.

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    While offering a very good choice of a word, I see that you have unwittingly turned the definition on its head: "Portraits for self-promotion are called head shots." -- It's actually the other way around, "head shots are typically used for business promotion portraits." – Kris May 7 '13 at 5:33
  • @Kris That doesn't match my experience as a photographer. We'd say that “Head-and-shoulders portraits are commonly used for business promotion portraits, where they are called head shots.” That matches the definition at Wikipedia too, where they emphasize that a head shot is specifically a portrait used for branding. – Bradd Szonye May 7 '13 at 19:30
  • Which is precisely my point. You answered as a photographer, not as a language person -- that has the risk of making the Q. "too localized." In general English, the expression head shot precedes its usage in photography. – Kris May 8 '13 at 5:01
  • @Kris Yes, the term comes from the entertainment industry, not from photography – that was part of my point. Head shots are originally publicity photos for an actor's resume. Even though the meaning has since expanded, it's still correct to say that “portraits for an actor's resume are called head shots.” Furthermore, while people do occasionally use the term for non-commercial portraits, I would find it strange to say that “head shots are typically used for publicity” in the same way that I'd find it strange to say that “Caesar dressing is typically used for Caesar salad.” – Bradd Szonye May 8 '13 at 14:36
  • Second thoughts that make significant changes are better added-on as Edit for historical & logical continuity. – Kris May 9 '13 at 5:29

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