High-quality real estate headshots are an essential marketing asset for any agent. In digital marketing, the headshot is often the first time your prospects, leads, and clients will see your face. Therefore, a professional and polished photo representing who you are and what you stand for is a must. A successful real estate headshot seems pretty straightforward, but there’s more to it than that. I’ll give tips on taking a great realtor headshot and share some of our favorite real-life examples.

Why Are Headshots for Real Estate Agents Important?

To compete in a crowded market, real estate agents and brokers must have a unified, professional marketing strategy, often led by an agent’s headshot. Real estate is a people business, and your headshot is the first chance to make a great impression on the people you want to work with. An excellent headshot enhances your online visibility and increases your chances of attracting clients browsing through listings and agent profiles.

1. Analyze Realtor Headshots & Emulate Them

They say imitation is the purest form of flattery; in this case, it is often the fastest route to getting a headshot you love. Find your market’s most successful real estate agents and preview their headshots. Look closely at their poses, smiles, clothes, and backgrounds. What makes these headshots stand out? What do the small details convey, even subconsciously, about the agents? Choose your favorite ones and emulate them during your photoshoot.

2. Get a Professional Photographer

Celebrity portrait photographer and photo artist Michael Grecco knows how to take a headshot and has captured countless famous faces, from Kanye West to Steven Spielberg. Grecco’s number one advice to The Close readers is to hire a professional photographer to control 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, guide you through your poses, suggest 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, you’ve got the wrong photographer.”

An employee posing for a professional photographer in a studio
Invest in a professional photographer’s services! (Source: Adobe Stock)

How to Hire a Headshot Photographer

  • Step 1: Research photographers specializing in corporate or headshot photography. Look at their portfolios and decide whether or not you like their style.
  • Step 2: Set a budget. Remember, this is an investment in your professional brand. You can use your headshot in many marketing materials, so ensure you set aside a reasonable budget.
  • Step 3: Contact potential photographers to determine whose services you’ll use. Inquire about their services, pricing, and availability to see whether they fit your needs. If everything seems good, it’s time to book your headshot session.
  • Step 4: Before you arrive at the studio, ensure your photographer understands your expectations and has a plan to meet (or exceed) them. It’s worth having a 10-minute conversation before shoot day to ensure you’re both on the same page. Here are a few details to nail down beforehand:
    • How do you plan on using your headshot in marketing?
    • Where will you shoot?
    • What image resolution do you need? 
    • Is there a particular look or feel you’re going for? 
    • Is there an additional charge for retouching? 
    • Are the copyrights and usage rights included? (More on this below)
    • When do you expect to get your photos?

3. Hire Professional Hair & Makeup Artists

Even if you’re a Sephora junkie, chances are you’re not going to be able to do your own hair and makeup as well as a professional can. Even subtle differences can have a significant impact when trying to look your best in your real estate headshot. Professional hair and makeup artists will know how to make you look your best on camera. So, before you book your shoot, ask your photographer if they know good hair and makeup artists or professional stylists. Many stylists work with professional photographers to ensure everything is picture-perfect!

4. Dress to Impress

Clothing is always a question when it comes to real estate headshots, but it’s easily answered. Speak to your photographer about colors and prints, and ensure that whatever you wear makes you feel good. If you aim for professionalism and comfort, you will look more natural in your photo session. Your photographer should be able to advise you if you have concerns or questions.

Here are some tips on what you should and shouldn’t wear to your photo session:

  • Wear something you’ll also wear when meeting a client. This attire usually includes a blazer, tailored pants, dress shirt, blouse, and slacks.
  • Choose neutrals instead of bright and neon colors. If you want to wear colors, opt for muted shades to avoid overwhelming the viewers.
  • Stick to solid colors instead of various patterns and tacky logos to keep the focus on your face.
  • Opt for minimal and tasteful accessories. Don’t wear flashy and distracting pieces of jewelry that can overpower your whole outfit.

5. Take Test Shots Before the Big Day

If you want a professional-looking headshot that shows you’re 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 pictures won’t look as good as the pros’, you can try different expressions and poses while in your real estate best.

6. Use Local Landmarks as Background

Real estate doesn’t happen in an office, a bank, or even on your smartphone—it occurs in the communities you serve. While having a quality set of studio images is essential for all sorts of applications, don’t miss the opportunity to include a photo shoot in your community. 

Since you aim to look as natural and trustworthy as possible, ditch the cheesy backdrop and head outside for your photo shoot. Consider shooting in front of an iconic landmark that represents your town. We like these examples that show off the Brooklyn Bridge, the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, and the impossible-to-mistake yellow taxis of New York. The result will be a headshot that wordlessly conveys your local bona fides.

Here are more backdrop ideas you can use for real estate agent headshots:

  • Backdrops that showcase your niche
  • Your brokerage’s branding or logo, or if you’re a solo agent, use your logo
  • Your office or a stylish living room
Related Article
Real Estate Photography: 9 Tips for Stunning DIY Photos

7. Smile Naturally!

Some real estate agents think looking professional in their headshots means giving a stone-faced blank expression rather than a warm smile. After all, many very powerful people look serious in their headshots. If you’re considering going with the stern look, a study at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology showed that smiling increases trust and makes people view you as more honest.

Still nervous about giving your perfect smile? Follow these tips:

  • Practice smiling in the mirror and say goodbye to awkward smiles! Try different smiles until you find one that feels natural.
  • Collaborate with your photographer to find the best smile. They can provide valuable feedback and suggest adjustments to your angle and position, helping you achieve the perfect smile.
  • Remember to relax your facial muscles and jaw. Tension can make your smile look strained, so staying relaxed and natural is essential. 
  • Smile with your eyes. Before the photographer clicks the shutter, think of something that makes you genuinely happy.
  • Avoid overly broad smiles. Don’t smile like you won the lottery; an overly wide smile might seem insincere.

8. Pose With Confidence

The days of upright, awkward, and frozen headshots are behind us. A relaxed and comfortable pose is acceptable, especially in our industry. 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.

Need more tips on striking the right pose for realtor headshots? Here are some:

  • Stand tall and maintain a good posture. Stand straight, but keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Don’t stand like a robot.
  • Look right through the camera. A confident gaze communicates reliability and inspires confidence and trust.
  • Keep your hands relaxed. Avoid awkward hand positions by placing your hands in your pockets or resting them on your hips.
  • Avoid a double chin by angling your chin forward and tilting your head slightly.
  • Experiment with your angles! Your photographer knows what poses work for you. Ask your photographer if your pose looks stiff and awkward.

9. Get Several Headshots for Multiple Purposes

When following your real estate marketing plan, be sure to include a great headshot in your marketing and business promotions. However, making a single image work for many applications is not always possible. A simple, clean background is best if your headshot will be used alongside other agents’ headshots (if you’re speaking on a panel, for example). But if you’re looking for a headshot for promotional materials or social media, you need one that indicates who you are and your target market. This fact may mean you need multiple outfits and settings for your shoot.

Three different headshots of one real estate agent
Austin Simon (Source: Austin Simon Real Estate)

10. 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 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.

A woman's headshot with three bars of criteria for scoring underneath
Improve your headshot by asking for feedback! (Source: Photofeeler)

11. 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 handles touch-ups, ensure they know you want a natural look. Ask them to reduce the corrections if the final product looks like a gauzy Glamour Shot.

 Photographers editing a woman's portraits with two computers in the studio
Ensure you end up with a natural-looking headshot! (Source: Adobe Stock)

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 on how you can use your images? Will your photographer retain the copyright for your pictures and use them for their purposes? If you can purchase all copyrights and uses for your headshots, go ahead and do it.

By default, photographers hold the copyright and usage rights to all the photos they’ve captured, meaning they have the right to reproduce and distribute all your headshots. Purchasing the copyright for all your realtor headshots allows you to use all your images without restrictions. You’ll be free to use your headshots in all your marketing materials, websites, and social media without asking for permission from the photographer.

13. Use Your Headshot Consistently

Sure, you think I’ll put my headshot on my website and probably my postcards and add it to my real estate agent bio, but that’s all. No—that’s not all! Put this hard-won headshot everywhere! On every social media channel, on 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 you’re the one to trust.

FAQs: Real Estate Headshots

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!

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