A professional headshot is an essential marketing asset for any real estate agent. The headshot is often the first time your potential clients will see you, so a professional, polished-looking photo that represents who you are and what you stand for is a must-have item for any real estate agent.
Because the presentation and quality of your headshot are so important, don’t wait for a photo shoot to improve your headshot game. Hire an expert from Fiverr to take your existing headshot through Adobe Photoshop and the post-production process, giving you the best possible presentation right away.
15 Expert Tips for a Great Agent Headshot
A new real estate headshot seems like it would be a pretty simple formula: find a professional photographer, schedule a shoot, show up, and smile. However, there’s more to it than that.
We talked to professional photographers as well as seasoned real estate professionals to get their best advice on what real estate agents can do to make sure their next photo shoot is successful, and here’s what they said.
1. Don’t Just Pay for a Photo―Hire a Professional Photographer
Michael Grecco, Photographer and Owner, Michael Grecco Photography
We got a chance to talk to celebrity portrait photographer and photo artist Michael Grecco to ask him about headshot photography and what goes into a successful shoot. Grecco has photographed countless famous faces, from Kanye West to Steven Spielberg, so this fellow knows the ropes of headshot and portrait photography.
Grecco suggested, above all else, to hire a professional photographer who will be in control of the situation and coach you through getting exactly the results you want:
“Of course, 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. Ask Your Photographer Lots of Questions, and Provide Them With Lots of Answers
Chantay Bridges, Real Estate Agent, Los Angeles Real Estate Now
There’s a lot that goes into a photography business and, often, there are more charges for real estate agents than just studio time. Before you arrive at the studio, make sure you know about all other services your photographer will need to provide before you have pictures in hand.
Chantay Bridges, a Los Angeles real estate expert, made a list of some of the most important questions she always asks her photographers:
“I always speak to my photographer the week of my shoot to confirm details. Do they know the purpose of my photos? If I plan on using the images in branding campaign, do they need to have a particular color and feel? Is it for website, social media, or marketing materials? Is there an additional charge for retouching and post-production? How long until I have images in hand? What is the delivery method? Be specific, be vocal, and give your photographer some expectations.”
3. Smile! Studies Show That Smiling Makes People Trust You More
The Close Staff
Some real estate agents, especially younger men, think that to look professional in their headshot, a stone-faced blank expression beats out a warm smile. After all, lots of very powerful people look serious in their headshot.
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 judge you as more “honest.”
4. Hire a Makeup Artist
The Close Staff
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 makeup artist can. When it comes to looking great 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, not just for a night on the town. So, before you book your shoot, ask your photographer if they know a good makeup artist.
5. Wear Something Professional That Also Makes You Feel Confident
Jackie Taves, Creative Director and Photographer, Lifstyl Real Estate
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.
We heard from Chicago-area creative director and photographer Jackie Taves on this topic. She told us:
“Embrace the fact that this is an activity that most people aren’t familiar with and roll with it. 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.”
6. Go With Solid Colors Instead of Patterns
Kiah Treece, Real Estate Marketing Analyst, Fit Small Business
With all the colors in the rainbow, it can be hard to choose just the right outfit for your new agent headshot. Remember, the purpose of your headshot is to show the world you’re a capable, confident, and knowledgeable professional who’s ready to get a deal done. Don’t let your clothing choices distract from this prime directive.
Real estate analyst Kiah Treece gave us this advice on choosing just the right colors for your outfit on photo shoot day:
“Busy patterns and loud colors are distracting. The purpose of your headshot is not to show off your new suit or dress―it is to show off you. You can’t go wrong with a classic professional look—traditional colors like navy blue, gray, or charcoal on a sharp men’s or women’s suit will always work.”
7. Purchase the Full Use Rights and Copyright for All Your Headshots
Miranda Paquet, Marketing & Operations Manager, The Close
Just like in a real estate transaction, reading every line of your contract with a photographer is very important, especially when it comes to ownership and use rights of an image.
Often, photographers will retain the copyright for any images they create unless it is specifically purchased from them. Miranda Paquet, a seasoned marketing expert, gave us this advice:
“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 this retention doesn’t affect how you want to use the photographs―great. However, if you have the option of purchasing all copyrights and uses for your headshots, do it.”
8. Use Photofeeler to Anonymously Pick Your Best Headshot
The Close Staff
If there’s one thing most people have a problem with, it’s being objective about their own image. It’s just too easy to either fall in love with a headshot that doesn’t work or to ignore one that does.
Your friends, coworkers, and even your family can have the same bias. Worse, they may tell you nice things to avoid hurting your feelings.
To avoid this, an app called Photofeeler allows you to crowdsource real, unbiased advice from the general public.
9. Have Your Photographer Shoot in Several Locations
Lauryn Dempsey, Realtor, Your Castle Real Estate
The real estate business doesn’t happen in an office or a bank or even on your cell phone, 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 do an environmental shot out in the community where you work. Lauryn Dempsey, a top producer in the Denver area, shared the following:
“Agents should include a second location for their headshots in an iconic spot from the community they serve. I did mine in Union Station in downtown Denver, something all Denver residents can identify. A photo on a black or white background is fine for some things, but when I want to show that I am a local, getting out into places my clients recognize is a must.”
10. Take Some Test Shots With a Friend or Coworker Before the Big Day
The Close Staff
For many new real estate agents, the last time they took a professional portrait was for their high school yearbook. Believe it or not, being older and more mature doesn’t make it any easier to take a great headshot.
Like everything else in life, if you want to be able to take a professional-looking headshot where you look honest and trustworthy rather than just nervous, you’re going to have to practice a bit.
Before the big day, pick out exactly what you want to wear, put it on, do your makeup exactly how you want it, and then recruit a friend or coworker to start snapping away. While the pics won’t look as good as the pros, you can at least try out different expressions and poses while dressed up in your Sunday best.
11. Get Multiple Headshots to Use for Multiple Purposes
Sammer Affridi, Owner, Hero Shot Photography
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 every single application doesn’t make any sense. We heard from veteran photographer Sammer Affridi on this topic:
“If you know your image is going to be printed small on a proposal or business card or viewed as a thumbnail on a website, I’d recommend opting for a plain backdrop so that there’s less clutter in the frame, and your viewer can see you clearly.
“The same advice goes for a headshot that will make up part of a group of headshots on a team page as having busy backgrounds starts to make a collection of photos intense and confusing to the eye.
“For flyers and social media, lifestyle portraits are now popular for real estate agents. These are the kinds of shots that look like magazine covers or inserts and usually paint a picture of success, confidence, and trust. They’re feel-good images that aren’t overtly about the person and more about the message, making them extremely effective selling tools.”
12. Consider Shooting Your Headshot Outside
The Close Staff
Because your goal here is to look as natural and trustworthy as possible, you might want to ask your photographer to kill the cheesy backdrop and head outside for your photo shoot.
Having a warm-colored brick wall, trees, or a row of elegant homes as the background for your headshot will make you stand out in a sea of bland backgrounds.
13. Study Realtor Headshots You Like and Emulate Them
Kat Kaye, Photographer, Kat Kaye Studio
They say that imitation is the purest form of flattery and, in this case, it is often the fastest route to getting a real estate agent headshot that you love. Make a list of the most successful real estate agents in your market and collect their headshots. Los Angeles-based fashion and art photographer Kat Kaye shared these tips with us:
“Study portraits of other real estate agents to see what you like and don’t like. This will help you communicate your needs better to the photographer. It will also help you with posing―although the photographer will help you with that as well) If there is someone that you admire, spend some time looking at their portraits as well. How does their headshot communicate the things you admire about them?”
14. Use Your Headshot on Every Single Piece of Marketing
Shaunda Necole, Real Estate Agent and Business Coach, Shaunda Necole: Get Your Name Out There Magic Marketing
We weren’t satisfied to only speak to photographers and real estate agents. We also wanted the take of marketing professionals on what to do with your headshots after you receive them. Real estate marketing guru and business coach Shaunda Necole shared the following wisdom with us:
“As a real estate agent and a businesswoman in general, having a professional headshot is a basic necessity when it comes to making a presence in a crowded market. The old real estate adage, “Location, location, location,” still rings true. Translation—your headshot image should precede you everywhere. All social media channels, bios, and business cards should be cohesively branded with your professional portraits.”
15. Grab a Drink Before the Shoot
Andrew Helling, Editor, REthority.com
We know this sounds a little silly, but you’d be surprised how many real estate agents swear by this practice. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Most of us are out of our comfort zone in front of the camera, stress and anxiety are revealed easily in headshot photography, and a cocktail or a glass of wine is a cheap, legal way to loosen up a little bit.
Andrew Helling, a real estate content editor, quipped:
“Seriously—if you’re camera-shy, loosen up by grabbing a cocktail. Don’t spend an hour in a bar and show up telling stories about senior prom. Just take the edge off so the smile is a little easier and the shoulders are relaxed.”
How Much Do Real Estate Headshots Cost?
If you don’t have a professional headshot, you need one. Even if you do have one, unless that photo is less than two years old, you should consider a new one. Real estate headshots should change every year or two to reflect who you are and the current fashion trends, so budgeting for one every two years is a good idea.
How much should you plan on spending? This number is going to depend a little bit on your market and the quality you’re expecting. Prices for a single professional image can be as low as $50, ranging up to a full-blown photo shoot 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.
Bringing It All Together
A great headshot is the unifying piece of content that ties all your marketing together. Take the time to get the right photos done the right way. If you aren’t ready to pull the trigger on a new headshot yet, head to Fiverr and hire a photo editing expert to spruce up your current headshot.