We get it: not everyone feels comfortable in front of the lens of a DSLR camera. Securing that perfect headshot is not always easy, but if you follow this guide, we can take some of the mystery out of realtor headshots so that you end up with a picture that portrays confidence AND competence.
1) Find a photographer
Perhaps the most important step in this process is finding a quality photographer that you trust. The best way to do this is by simply google searching “realtor headshot photographer” in your location and finding portrait work you connect with visually. Look at the photographer’s catalogue of past shoots and see if it’s a look you might want for yourself. Also make sure to chat with them beforehand to see if their personality is a good fit, you want to be relaxed on the day of the shoot and being with someone who makes you feel at ease is important.
Ask for a referral from other agents if you like the quality of their headshots. Many photographers operate on word of mouth referrals so be sure to ask around. Check out their Google Business page or Yelp to see if it’s the right fit for you.
Look into services like Smart Shoot, which acts as a database to connect you with photographers who can shoot with exact brand specifications. This is a great way to get linked with someone with a proven track-record who really knows what they’re doing.
Part of the process is the retouching and editing that happens after the shoot. Make sure you’re pairing up with a photographer who knows how to edit stray hairs, blemishes, dark circles around the eyes, or whatever else in post. This can be just as important as the actual shoot so make sure to check if this is something they’re competent in.
Look into the pricing. The cost of headshots can vary widely depending on the quality, quantity, amount of backgrounds/locations, etc… so make sure to ask the photographer about the price breakdown. Usually it’ll land around the $200 range for quality, well-lit photos, but some shoots end up cheaper or much more expensive depending on your requirements. Remember, realtor headshots are an important investment so sometimes it’s worth paying the extra money for a quality portrait.
2) Smile for the camera
According to this study by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people who smile are viewed as more trustworthy than people who don’t. Giving off a friendly, confident attitude often makes the difference when someone is selecting an agent. In fact, the same study found that having a smile with teeth showing, or even having a smile while laughing, makes people perceive you as more likeable and influential than a closed mouth smile.
Anyone who’s done a photoshoot can tell you that holding a smile for several hours is tough. Make sure to switch it off between photos or outfit changes, don’t tire yourself out too quickly! A forced smile does not have the same effect as a natural, organic one so wait until the moment of action to slap on that glowing grin!
A few tricks to try out if you’re feeling stiff or unable to get out of your shell — turn on some lively music, talk to the photographer a bit, and try and make yourself laugh. If you’re with a good photographer, they’ll make you comfortable enough to let out some natural smiles. Don’t be afraid to crack some jokes!
With the nerves of a photoshoot people can sometimes widen their eyes and look a bit like a deer in the headlights; This is NOT the look you want to convey to potential clients. Instead use the “squinch” technique by pulling your lower eyelids up slightly to appear more comfortable.
In a digital age, your first impression with clients is often your professional headshot and you need to make sure you’re appearing trustworthy, professional, and engaging. A genuine smile is the best way to come across this way and leave a glowing first impression.
3) Know your angles
For some people, posing is the most intimidating part of the shoot. The classic “what do I do with my hands?” mentality. It’s important you come across confident and comfortable in your pictures to potential clients so here are some tips:
First off, ask your photographer if they’re ok positioning and posing you. Chances are, if you’ve done your research, your photographer will be experienced with this and give you plenty ways to pose. Go through their past works and see which positions their subjects looked most comfortable in and pull inspiration from that.
Angles are very important, especially for closer shots. For women, shooting the face from higher up at a slight downward angle makes the eyes appear slightly larger and gives a more delicate impression. For men, shooting slightly lower with an upward angle can make the subject appear more masculine. These may change depending on what you want to portray and what the photographer has in mind.
If you want a more pronounced and defined jaw, try this trick of tilting your head forward and pushing out your jaw. This eliminates the pesky double-chin while also making you appear more confident.
Make sure your posture is on point. Slumping and slouching won’t attract potential clients but straightening out your back and standing tall with your shoulders square will! Your pose plays a lot into your poise and the goal is to appear confident to subconsciously assure customers they’re in good hands.
4) Location, location, location
Background locations can have a big influence on how your portraits are perceived by clients. You can go out on location (say the beach or forest) if you’re a realtor selling beach homes or exotic properties, or you can shoot somewhere comfortable and familiar like your own home.
Other good places to shoot include a studio, your office space, a neighborhood that reflects your speciality, a cafe, a cityscape, or in a staged home. Remember, choose something that conveys your specific branding or image.
The photographer may utilize gaussian blur to make you the primary focus of the image. This is a clean look which conveys your speciality in the backdrop but doesn’t take away from you as the subject. It creates a less distracted, clear look.
5) Pick your outfits
Check with your photographer first and see what they recommend, but you should bring two to four professional outfits for a shoot just to have some variance in the photos.
Pick clothes you’re comfortable and confident in, these should be your favorite professional outfits. Choose clothes that don’t have distracting colors or patterns like florals, stripes, or paisley.
You want the potential client to be looking at and connecting with YOU, not your outfit.
Avoid flashy jewelry or accessories. This portrait will often be the first impression for customers and, as stated above, you don’t want to pull attention away from yourself. They’re going to connect more with your face and your smile than the new Patek on your wrist.
Pick out shoes that are comfortable, as they usually wont be included in the shot and you could be on your feet for awhile (oftentimes shoots can last upwards of two hours). However, if having on heels makes you feel more confident then don’t be afraid to wear them.
Wear clothes that help contribute to your brand. You want the outfit you wear to be akin to something you would have on when meeting your clients, so if you’re trying to portray something more informal, take that into consideration. If you’re trying to sell property that benefits from formality, dress professionally. Use your best judgment!
You may want to hire a makeup artist. Chances are, unless you’re a seasoned beauty vlog vet, a professional touch will give you that extra bit of boost to make you appear healthy and photogenic. Your photographer most likely knows several makeup artists so ask them which ones they recommend. Usually the price for a quality artist is somewhere in the $100 to $400 range and may be worth it if you’re trying to achieve that professional look.
6) The Don’ts
- Don’t pose with your animals. You’re trying to convey competence in real estate, not your status as a pet owner. Having your dog or cat in the photo looks unprofessional so put the pooch down.
- Don’t pose with technology. Holding your smartphone may turn off potential clients who perceive you as being too busy or distracted. You may also seem too tech obsessed for people who don’t deal with technology as much. Avoid looking inattentive and close the macbook.
- Don’t pose with family. Again, this is all about conveying the proper image. Sure, the kids are cute, but they’re not showing the customer that you’re a competent real estate agent. Avoid the holiday card aesthetic and keep it focused on just you!
- Don’t use a selfie. This look is too intimate and unprofessional, even with a quality selfie-stick. It’s hard to convey branding with something so candid, so make sure not to cut corners and hire an actual photographer
- Don’t stay up all night the night before. Not only will you look tired, but studies show that lack of sleep can cause you to feel anxious and unprepared. Take care of yourself and get some quality beauty rest beforehand!
- Don’t strike a cheesy pose. As we’ve reiterated in this blog, you don’t want to look stiff or unnatural in these photos. You need to appear loose and organic. Crossing your arms can make you look stand-offish and tilting your head can make you look aloof. Practice natural poses in the mirror beforehand and make sure to look at plenty of reference photos to see which stances work the best
7) Get a second opinion
Studies show that we have difficulty viewing ourselves objectively when it comes to photographs so it may be beneficial to send them to someone trustworthy. It’s important you look good and communicate your branding effectively, so get some help from a spouse, family member, friend, or fellow realtor to give you the God’s honest truth. Hopefully you’ll have a decent pool of photos to choose from and a second (and third) opinion can really help filter out the great photos from the not-so-great ones.
You can also use an app like Photofeeler to have users anonymously field your photos and find the ones best suited for business headshots. Services like this are great for honest, objective feedback because they’re not personally attached to you in any way.
8) Now, get your headshot out there!
Once your pictures have been touched up and sent back to you, make sure to update all of your socials (and website) with your new headshots. LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, email signatures, realty networks, even Yelp. Google search your name and make sure the results showcase the new photos.
If they don’t, reach out to whichever sites have the undesired photos and request to have them changed. Search your name or real estate company a few times a year to make sure old photos don’t cycle back into the search results. Headshots are a keystone in real estate branding and customers can make decisions on who they want to work with based on the first impression. It’s important that they’re current and showcasing the best side of you!
On top of the digital, you may find that you want to make print versions of your headshots. Put them on signs in front of houses, bus stations, billboards, the list goes on…
It’s recommended you update your headshots every few years or after a significant change in appearance (weight loss, new hair, style of clothing change, etc) so as to not confuse new customers when they meet you in person. Looking significantly different from your headshot can lead to negative first impressions, so use your best judgement and ask your colleagues if they think you should update your photos.
9) Never underestimate the importance of a good professional photo
Just to reiterate, nothing gives a great first impression like a well-done, professional headshot. As everything increasingly moves online, this is often clientele’s first look at you and it’s important to show them your best side (literally)!