Marketing

The perfect headshot: 4 secrets to working with your photographer

First impressions often happen online -- and they're crucial
  • An online profile picture is the first impression that most clients get of you.
  • It's only human to start forming an opinion based on that initial headshot.
  • Professional photographs are an investment, but the cost of professional photos is nothing compared to clothes and cars.

First impressions count. Every agent knows that, and it’s the reason that real estate professionals spend so much cash on proper grooming, elegant attire and luxurious cars. The rule of thumb that I’ve heard is that you want to appear at least a little more polished, stylish and successful than your potential clients to get the deal.

So you’ve spent the money on the hair, clothes and car and hopefully practiced all your scripts to come across in a smooth, professional manner. That’s great — it means you’re ready to make a stellar first impression that gets you the client, right? Except that, it doesn’t because that first impression has already been made.

Wait, what?

Yes, the first impression you’ve made is through your online photo, the one that prospects are seeing on your website, Facebook, Twitter, Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com — and every other place that you promote yourself online. What you write about yourself obviously matters, but that single profile picture of you is going to make people’s first impression before you even know they exist.

What do your profile photos look like?

Let that sink in for a moment. Now, think about your online profile photos. Are they 10 years out of date? Are you wearing old clothes? How’s your hair? Are they stock shots from Sears Portrait Studio or the local Glamour Shots at the mall or maybe even worse — a quickie mugshot that your broker took of you against a wall in the office a few years back?

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I’m going to recuse myself and tell you that as a digital marketing professional, I was making this very same mistake until just a couple of years ago. After all, my reputation is built on my work, not my looks, right? But people see my profile photo typically well before they see my work (or your listings), and it’s only human to start forming an opinion based on that.

A new outlook (and profile pic)

My perspective changed about three years ago when my wife had a professional photographer friend do some family portraits for us. It took about a week for the digital photos to be ready, and they cost about $250. But they were absolutely stunning. And when I posted them on Facebook, the reaction was overwhelming.

Since then, I’ve recommended to friends, colleagues and clients that they seek out a local wedding or fashion photographer for portfolio photos. Google “wedding photographer” in your city and many will come up.

These professionals aren’t the overworked, underpaid slouches you’ll get at the mall. These are hard-working, professional artists who usually prefer a creative challenge outside of the events they normally shoot.

A couple of tips

Here are a couple of tips I learned from working with photographers.

1. Enlist your friends’ opinions

I recommend making a short list of the photographers you like the most. Then show their online gallery websites to a few close friends who can help you pick the best one. Once you’ve settled on the right photographer for you, ask him or her to do a shoot with you that lasts a few hours.

2. Get variety

Have the photographer take photos of you at a few locations, and make sure that they take a variety of shots from different angles, in different lighting with lots of backgrounds in case you need to crop those photos for a website or social media platform.

3. Make sure they are crop-worthy

Modern banners are typically short but wide and stretch across the web page, whereas Facebook and Twitter tend to require square photos with a close crop on your face. Make sure that you have photos that can be cropped for both.

4. Spend for better results

For a professional photographer to spend time taking great photos of you, expect to spend between $250 and $750. Most wedding photographers will also invest time in digital editing — to bring out the color of your skin, the pattern of your clothes, the colors in your eyes and hair — which lets you look your best, even if you weren’t necessarily feeling that way on picture day.

It’s an investment, but excellent profile photos are truly going to be your first impression for the majority of new contacts you make in real estate. And compared to what you spend on clothes and a car, it’s only a pittance to present yourself in a positive and professional way.

Tim Ventura is a digital marketing and technology professional with 20 years of executive, managerial, and technical experience. He proudly serves real estate professionals in an executive role at Tim & Julie Harris Real Estate Coaching. To learn more about his experience, visit his online profile.

Email Tim Ventura.