A high-quality Realtor headshot is an essential marketing asset for any real estate agent. In the world of digital marketing, the real estate headshot is often the first time your prospects, leads, and clients will see your face. This means a professional, polished photo that represents who you are and what you stand for is a must have.
A successful real estate headshot seems pretty straightforward: Find a professional photographer, schedule a shoot, show up, and smile. However, there’s more to it than that. In this article, you’ll get all the tips and advice you need to take a great Realtor headshot, plus some of our favorite real-life examples.
20 Tips for a Great Agent Headshot
1. Hire a Professional
Celebrity portrait photographer and photo artist Michael Grecco knows how to shoot a headshot, having captured countless famous faces, from Kanye West to Steven Spielberg.
Grecco’s number one piece of advice to Close readers? Hire a professional photographer who will be in control of the situation and coach you through getting the exact results you want.
“Just like any important business meeting, you should show up to your photo shoot well-rested, relaxed, and ready to work. But you aren’t paying someone to open and close a shutter. You’re hiring someone to take control of the situation from start to finish, to guide you through your poses, make suggestions on your wardrobe, and teach you how to get the most out of every minute of their time.
“If your photographer isn’t making your photo shoot easy on you, you’ve got the wrong photographer.”
2. Set Your Expectations Before Your Shoot
Before you arrive at the studio, make sure your photographer understands your expectations and has a plan in place to meet (and exceed) them. It’s worth having a 10-minute conversion before the day of the shoot to make sure you’re both on the same page. Here are a few details to nail down ahead of time:
- How do you plan on using your headshot in marketing?
- Where will you shoot?
- What image resolution do you need?
- Is there a certain look or feel you’re going for?
- Is there an additional change for retouching?
- Are the copyrights and usage rights included? (more on this below)
- When do you expect your photos to be finished?
3. Get Several Headshots for Multiple Purposes
A great headshot is something you can include on every single piece of marketing and promotion you do for your business. However, trying to make a single image work for many different applications doesn’t always turn out.
If your headshot is going to be used alongside other agents’ headshots (if you’re speaking on a panel, for example) a simple, clean background is best. But if you’re looking for a headshot to use on promotional materials or on social media, you need a headshot that is more indicative of who you are and the market you target. This may mean you need multiple outfits and settings for your shoot.
4. Combine Your Photoshoot With a Video Shoot
Sure, a professional headshot is a great start—but if you really want to stand out in 2023, you should combine your headshot with some professional video content. As you interview photographers, check to see if you could combine the headshots and a video shoot into one. Many photographers do both or work closely with videographers.
Getting your headshots and video in one day saves time and keeps your marketing materials cohesive. You can then post your video content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Keep your video pretty general so that you can use it in lots of different ways. Consider doing a walk around local landmarks or a brief, cheerful introduction to your business.
5. Wear Something Professional That Also Makes You Feel Confident
Clothes are always a question when it comes to the real estate headshot, but it’s a question easily answered. Speak to your photographer about colors and prints, and make sure that whatever you wear makes you feel good. If you aim for professional and comfortable, you will look more natural in your photo session. Your photographer should be able to advise you if you have concerns or questions.
10 Things to Never, Ever Wear to Work as a Realtor
Jackie Taves, photographer and owner of Ashes & Embers Photography, shares the following:
“Embrace the fact that this is an activity that most people aren’t familiar with and roll with it. If you need advice, ask! Your photographer knows what works and what doesn’t.
“Find ways to make yourself feel confident. Wear something flattering and professional, but something that is also comfortable. It will be tough to smile and look professional if you are always worried about a wardrobe malfunction.”
27 Things Male Realtors Should Never, Ever, Wear to Work
6. Include Iconic Local Landmarks in Your Headshots
Real estate doesn’t happen in an office or a bank or even on your smartphone—it happens in the communities you serve. Having a quality set of studio images is important for all sorts of applications, but don’t miss the opportunity to include a photo shoot in the community where you work.
Consider shooting in front of an iconic landmark that represents your town. We like these examples that show off the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the impossible-to-mistake yellow taxis of New York. The result will be a headshot that wordlessly conveys your local bona fides.
7. Use Your Headshot Consistently
Sure, you think, I’ll put my headshot on my website and probably my postcards, but that’s all. No—that’s not all! Put this hard-won headshot everywhere! Put it on every channel of your social media, your flyers, postcards, park benches, or on a banner waving in the wind behind an airplane. Paper the town with your professional image so that your community knows who you are and that you’re the one to trust.
8. Study Realtor Headshots & Emulate Them
They say that imitation is the purest form of flattery and, in this case, it is often the fastest route to getting a headshot that you love. Make a list of the most successful real estate agents in your market and collect their headshots. Look closely at their poses, smiles, clothes, and backgrounds. What is it that makes these headshots stand out? What do the small details convey, even subconsciously, about the agents?
9. Smile! Studies Show That Smiling Makes People Trust You More
Some real estate agents think that looking professional in their headshot means giving a stone-faced blank expression, rather than a warm smile. After all, lots of very powerful people look serious in their headshots. If you’re considering going with the stern look, you should be aware that a study at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology showed that smiling increases trust and makes people view you as more honest.
10. Hire a Makeup Artist
Even if you’re a seasoned Sephora junkie, chances are you’re not going to be able to do your own makeup as well as a professional can. When it comes to looking your best in your real estate headshot, even subtle differences can have a big impact. A professional makeup artist will know how to make you look your best on camera. So, before you book your shoot, ask your photographer if they know a good makeup artist.
11. Purchase the Full Use Rights & Copyright for All Your Headshots
Photographers will often retain the copyright for any images they create unless you specifically purchase the usage rights. Make sure you ask your photographer about copyright and use. Are there any restrictions for how you can use your images? Will your photographer be retaining the copyright for your images and using them for their own purposes? If you have the option of purchasing all copyrights and uses for your headshots, do it.
12. Ask Strangers to Pick Your Best Headshot
Most people struggle to be objective about their own image. It’s just too easy to either fall in love with a headshot that doesn’t work or ignore the one that does. Your friends, coworkers, and even your family might have the same bias. Worse, they may avoid the truth to protect your feelings. Consider using Photofeeler, which allows you to crowdsource real, unbiased advice from the general public.
13. Take Some Test Shots Before the Big Day
If you want to be able to take a professional-looking headshot where you look honest and trustworthy (rather than just nervous), you should practice a bit. Before the big day, pick out exactly what you want to wear and recruit a friend or coworker to take a few shots. While the pics won’t look as good as the pros’ pics, you can at least try out different expressions and poses while in your Sunday best.
14. Consider an Outdoor Photo Shoot
Because your goal is to look as natural and trustworthy as possible, consider ditching the cheesy backdrop and head outside for your photo shoot. A background featuring a warm-colored brick wall, lovely green trees, or a row of elegant homes will make your headshot stand out in a sea of bland backdrops.
15. Strike a Pose
The days of upright, arms crossed, frozen headshots are behind us. It’s perfectly acceptable, especially in our industry, to find a pose that looks relaxed and comfortable. Some of my favorites show the subject sitting down, looking approachable and primed for an important conversation. These agents look ready to solve all of your real estate problems.
16. Avoid Over-editing
With the magic of Photoshop and filters, it’s tempting to over-edit real estate agent headshots. I’d advise you to hold back or else you’ll get an end product that doesn’t reflect the subject. Have a blemish? Go ahead and erase it. Errant hairs flying out of place? You can fix those too. But go too far and people will notice the post-production instead of your beautiful smile.
If your photographer is handling touch-ups, make sure they know you want a natural look. And if the final product looks like a gauzy Glamour Shot, feel free to ask them to pare back on the corrections.
17. Don’t Rely on AI Just Yet
Speaking of magic, it might be tempting to forgo the professional photographer and use an artificial intelligence (AI) program to generate a headshot from an existing photo. While AI will probably be a great option in the future, for now, it can’t beat a real professional. When testing it out, my headshot had varying skin tones, distracting filters, glassy eyes, and wonky head angles.
18. Get Creative
Feel like the traditional headshot doesn’t represent you or speak to your target audience? Consider an alternative to tried-and-true photography. A drawn portrait or caricature could be the perfect match for you and your brand. It’s OK to think outside the box as long as it suits your messaging and your market.
19. Don’t Forget Team Headshots
If your brand is all about your team, make sure that’s reflected in your headshot. A perfectly choreographed team shot shouts trustworthiness, professionalism, and, of course, teamwork. Don’t forget to shoot some individual ones you can use in situations where the marketing is all about you specifically.
20. Grab a Drink Before the Shoot
Stress and anxiety are revealed easily in headshot photography, and most of us are out of our comfort zone in front of the camera. That’s why a cocktail or a glass of wine might be an easy way to loosen up a little bit. No one will judge you if you have a beer to keep those smiles natural and poses relaxed. Just one though, guys—no Frank the Tank.
Real Estate Agent Headshot FAQs
Still got headshot questions? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are the most frequently asked questions (and answers) when it comes to Realtor headshots.
How much do real estate headshots cost?
Prices for a single professional image can be as low as $50, ranging up to a full-blown photoshoot with multiple outfit changes for $1,000 or more. Often, you get what you pay for when it comes to portrait photography. Therefore, if you’re only plunking down $50, you shouldn’t expect much in return.
In most markets—other than New York and Los Angeles—$250 will almost certainly get you a quality set of images from a professional photographer.
Why do I need a professional Realtor headshot?
In order to compete in a crowded market, real estate agents and brokers need to have a unified, professional marketing strategy that is often led by an agent’s headshot. Real estate is a people business, and the headshot is your first chance to make a great impression on the people you want to work with in your community.
How often do real estate agents need to get new headshots?
Plan on getting new Realtor headshots every couple of years. Your headshot needs to reflect who you are and the business you’re doing. Remember, most of your clients will see your headshot before they meet you in person. It’s important that the person walking up the front sidewalk to a listing appointment matches the person in the photo on your website and social media.
Bringing It All Together
A great headshot is the unifying piece of content that ties all your real estate marketing together. Take the time to get the right photos done the right way. Have questions or advice? Leave a comment below!