Essential Tips for Realtor Headshots

Whether you’ve just passed your real estate licensing exam, or you’ve been in the business for a while, an updated headshot is one of the most powerful marketing tools for realtors. Continue reading to find out how location background, what you’re wearing, and your body language in your realtor headshot all play a part.

Why Get An Updated Realtor Headshot?

1. To make an impactful first impression.

They say a photo is worth a thousand words but your headshot is worth much more because in this super techy, digital age, your potential clients can make a whole heap of assumptions about you from that image in less than 20 seconds. Have you ever seen a billboard for an attorney where they have their sleeves rolled up ready to “fight for you?” If so, good or bad, think about what personality, practice, and type of lawyer you thought that person might be. Your image is the same. It can give the impression that you are confident, approachable, and professional. It can similarly make you look like you don’t invest in yourself or your business, unorganized, maybe even messy.

2. To help people remember who you are and stand out from the others.

Humans are visual people, we can’t help it. So a card with your name on it may help someone remember you, but a card with your photo and your name definitely help people remember you. Add that to the fact that you’ll be wanting to use your professional headshots in as much of your marketing as possible, this will only help solidify who you are in your clients’ minds. Just be sure that if you plan to have a whole set of images in your marketing arsenal that you work with a professional that will ensure every image has a similar look and feel.

3. So that you always stay up-to-date.

Even if you already have a realtor headshot, it’s always good to update the image routinely. If you don’t want to be surprised by the person walking up for your date and them not matching their dating profile photo at all, then you don’t want your potential client to have the same surprised reaction the first time they meet you. Be honest with yourself, does your old photo actually represent who you are today or what your business values are today? If the answer is, “it good be better,” it’s time for an update.

So what is your realtor headshot currently saying about you? Let’s dive into what you should be thinking about when updating your professional portrait.

Headshot Location and/or Background

One of the first things to decide when booking professional headshots is what location or background would you like to use for them. The two main options are in the studio or on-location.

Studio Realtor Headshots

Studio headshots tend to be a little more traditional. They can be elegant and classic as long as you are using a neutral background like grey or white. We’ve all seen headshots from a time when a bit of color was popular on backdrops (ahem, 80s and 90s). Let’s stay away from those, shall we? But all jokes aside, a neutral grey can give a very high-end, timeless look to your portrait, so if your real estate company also has that feel, a studio headshot is perfect.

A white background gives off a fresh, clean, also modern vibe if that’s more of the angle you’re going for. It is also helpful if you know you’re generally more inclined to have your face and body cut out for marketing materials because it’s just easier for your designer to work with.

In some circumstances, a colored backdrop is actually perfect for your brand but if this is the case make a plan with your photographer about the look you are going for. This tends to be less likely with realtor headshots than some other niche markets but sometimes this makes sense.

On-Location Realtor Headshots

Outside headshots or portraits taken on-location in a model home or in an office can have a totally different vibe.

In general, having greenery behind a person is calming and makes a person seem easy-going and/or friendly. Something more color can make a person seem fun and vibrant, but careful it doesn’t become a distraction from the most important part of the headshot, your face.

Beach or waterfront headshots might be a great fit for a realtor that caters more towards selling those types of houses, and headshots taken near a fenced field or on a beautiful property, might be great for a realtor that works with clients selling rural properties or homes with land.

Headshots or branding images taken in a more urban setting, say for example downtown or where there are a lot of fun shops or restaurants, might be perfect for a realtor that deals more with commercial real estate, apartments, or condos. It might also work well for a realtor whose target clients are young professionals, possibly without kids still.

Whereas headshots taken on a street with large homes (blurred out of course) might be good for a realtor targeting clients who are looking for those kinds of homes.

An indoor headshot on-location, such as in a model home that’s been impeccably decorated or in your office that matches your branding perfectly, might give off more about your sense of style and professionalism.

Lastly, take the weather into consideration for these. More than likely it’s much better to re-schedule a shoot and wait for good weather than trying to rush something in weather that just isn’t giving off the look you are going for.

What to Wear for Your Realtor Headshots

What you are wearing in your professional headshots is similar to what you decide you want the look of your background to be in terms of what it can say to your potential clients.

What’s the Style of Your Business Branding

Start with what’s the image you’re trying to set in your business branding. Polished? Cheerful? Approachable? Fun-loving? Classic? These adjectives all have colors and wardrobes that can help communicate those. For example, black can look sharp and modern but it can also feel very serious.

What’s the Style of Target Client

Next, think a little about your target client. What are their interests? What might they wear most days? Are they always in a suit or are suits only worn for weddings and funerals? What is their style? What types of people are in their trust circles? For example, if your target clients are generally moms with young kids that are always super busy and trying to do all of the things to keep everyone together, then maybe dress a little more on the casual professional side so that your first impression to them isn’t that you two have nothing in common.

What to Wear for Realtor Headshot General Tips

From there, although there aren’t any hard rules (and there are always occasions to break the rules if in particular, it makes sense for the first two things listed above) here are some guidelines:

  1. In general solid colors, textures, small patterns, and layering are all great options but stay away from large prints as they can become very distracting.
  2. Bright red can often bounce redness on to your face, so generally, stay away from it as a primary color in your wardrobe unless it serves a purpose. Red ties or blouses under something like a sweater are fine.
  3. Iron or steam any clothes that you know tend to keep wrinkles and then hang them nicely in your car until you are ready to wear them.
  4. If you usually wear glasses and know you’ll be meeting clients with glasses, take your realtor headshot with glasses on. Again, it’s an image meant to represent the person your potential client is going to meet so the closer to the most likely scenario, the better. That being said, be sure your photographer knows how to light for glasses. There are plenty of tips and tricks for photographers to reduce glasses glare in images and it’s worth using a professional for this purpose.
  5. When in doubt, bring more than one outfit, top, or tie and let your photographer help you decide.
  6. Be purposeful with your jewelry options. As a general rule, it’s good to keep jewelry simple so that it doesn’t distract someone from your face unless again the type of jewelry that you wear is part of your look.
  7. If you tend to wear heels, bring them to wear during your headshot session. Even if you are only taking a standard close up image, wearing heels tends to help with posture in headshots.
  8. Ladies, if you are self-conscious about your arms, avoid sleeveless tops!
  9. Decide ahead of time if you want facial hair and be clean-shaven on the parts that you do not want stubble to show up. Yes, professional cameras are that good at picking up detail so do yourself and your photographer a favor and do a good job shaving the areas you want looking cleaned up. Likewise, groom your staches and beards, please.
  10. If you’re considering a blazer or jacket, think about finding one that fits you well. The key is to ensure it complements your shoulders and isn’t too tight or too loose in front. Headshots typically focus on the upper body, so a well-fitted jacket can enhance your overall look. I often advise clients to prioritize the fit over the color when choosing the perfect blazer.
  11. Avoid ties with big prints, large stripes, or that your young kids gave you (unless again this is part of a certain look you are going for).

Makeup for Realtor Headshots

It’s always good to look your best when taking new headshots. I say this with the full belief that you are beautiful and handsome just the way you are. However, when taking portraits under professional lighting conditions, the lights can sometimes wash out your natural face and a bit of makeup can not only help with that but also help with looking too shiny.

A general rule of thumb is that you’ll want to have a bit heavier makeup on than whatever is your normal amount. By heavier I don’t mean you’re going all out on New Year’s Eve makeup, let’s still with a natural look, I just mean a bit thicker than usual when you are putting it on. Ladies, let’s also avoid the lip gloss or shiny eye shadow. I know shiny things are fun but not on your face for a headshot.

If it’s in your budget and you don’t want to worry about it, professional makeup artists routinely do makeup for both men and women. Men’s makeup is especially normal for television but it’s also not unusual for men to use a professional makeup artist for particularly studio headshots as well. Using a professional makeup artist for this helps make sure that the person putting makeup on you is familiar with studio lighting and the other types of things that might be noticeable in a headshot.

How to Pose for Realtor Headshots

The good news is that if you’ve hired a professional photographer for your headshots, you should already be in good hands when it comes to headshot posing.

Standard Close-up Headshots

When it comes to standard chest-up headshots, the most important thing you are going for is a relaxed and genuine smile. Easier said than done when you’ve got a giant camera in your face, but always be honest with your photographer.

  • If you are feeling anxious or nervous, let them guide you out of that with some laughing or breathing. Never think of professional headshots as a selfie. Everyone hates selfies of themselves. Instead remember that a professional camera, with a professional lens, with professional lighting, and a professional photographer are going to always make your photo look a million times better than a selfie. Plus, this is a marketing activity so think of it as a business task to check off the list if regular photo taking is not your favorite activity. It’s much more of an exciting task if it means you are working to growing your business.
  • Let your photographer know if there are any feature about yourself that you are self-conscious about, because professional photographers are also great at highlighting your favorite parts and diminishing things that you always critique about yourself. BUT you have to let them know for that to work.
  • Worried about a double chin? A little trick there is to push your forehead straight out to the camera just a tad. It helps give everyone a nicer jawline.
  • If you feel like you’ve been smiling too long and it’s feeling fake, it probably looks it too. Take a pause, make some silly faces to stretch things out, close your eyes, swish pretend mouthwash in your mouth, and restart.

Headshots a Little Further Out

For headshots that are pulled a little further out, say 1/2 or 3/4 of your body is showing, there’s a lot more body language that can come into play.

  • Not sure what to do with your hands? Well, your photographer should give you guidance but when in doubt here are some options. One hand in pocket, the down by your side or in a loose fist at your belly. Hands crossed with pointer fingers in a slightly upward direction, or one hand tucked into your elbow joint and the other relaxed out. Careful with hands crossed that you aren’t looking too menacing or tight. Holding your hands around your belly can work really well but careful if you hold them down in front that you don’t look like a soccer player protecting the goal from a penalty kick if you get my drift… In general, hands can also be used to create a friendlier or more casual look so don’t feel that they need to be tucked away.
  • To bring less attention to your mid-section, think about creating space between your body and whatever arm is facing the camera by either resting your hand on your upper leg with a little bend in the elbow or bringing it to your waist (not hip).
  • Putting your weight on your front foot can give you a more confident or direct look, whereas placing your weight on the back foot can help with slimming the rest of your body.
  • Make sure you are at eye level with the camera. Looking up or looking down into the lens is better left for more creative or editorial portraits and not so much for business ones when you are trying to connect with your clients.
  • Keep things simple. Try facing your body three-quarters in one direction, straight on to the front, and then to the other direction, shifting your feet each time so that you don’t look too stiff.

Talk to you Photographer

The biggest tip I can give in regards to headshots for realtors is to talk to your photographer. Tell them things that you think are important about your brand, your target clients, the look and feel you’re going for, and any insecurities you feel with portrait taking. They most likely will be super helpful in brainstorming with you and in general are just as excited about getting you the perfect headshots as you are!

Finally, your headshot is your digital footprint so make it count!