The DOs & DON’Ts of Real Estate Headshots


The headshot: it’s an absolute business necessity when you’re in the real estate industry. Your headshot is part of your personal branding, and people expect to see it everywhere – on business cards, your website, public benches and even billboards! Real estate is a face-to-face business and potential clients want to see yours.

Selecting a real estate headshot can be a terrifying proposition. Real estate agents are all too frequently teased for having cheesy photos. (Don’t believe us? See the link at the end of this article.) But how often does someone come along with constructive advice? Not often enough.

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Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled a helpful list of DOs and DON’Ts that will make your next photo session a breeze. You know that you were born to sell real estate, that you’re amazing to work with and a complete professional, now you just need an updated real estate headshot to convey that image to your prospects.

good real estate headshotDo of Real Estate Headshots

Update your photo every few years. It’s important to keep your headshot current, especially now that so many people begin their real estate searches on the internet. You want your online prospects to recognize you when you finally meet them.

Have a cropped version of your headshot that you can use on social networking sites. Cropping also allows you to almost completely eliminate any backgrounds or styling choices that appear dated.

Choose a setting that works with your branding. If you sell beachfront properties, having a tasteful seaside view in the background will reinforce your area of expertise. High-end residential homes? Try a lush garden location. Or, if al fresco photography isn’t your thing, consider a casual office setting or classic solid backdrop.

Wear something that you feel comfortable in. If you’re not a suit person, don’t wear a suit! Your awkwardness will come through in the photo.

On a related note, wear something with sleeves. No one wants to look topless in their professional headshot… not in this profession anyway.

bad real estate headshotDon’ts of Real Estate Headshots

Use props. Telephones, sold signs, glasses of wine, we’ve seen it all! Nothing says silly and unprofessional faster than an agent that feels like he/she needs to use a prop to catch your eye.

Abuse Photoshop. Of course you can use it for light touch-ups, but proceed with caution. If you find yourself with a completely new hairline, blurry hair halo or blindingly white teeth, you’ve gone too far.

Strike a pose. You are not Madonna, nor are you a stage actor. Potential clients respond best to approachable headshots that reflect how their experience may be if they choose to work with you. Choose a comfortable sitting or standing position and act like yourself on your best day.

Include your spouse/children/pets unless you’re some sort of husband and wife team that caters to millionaire tweens and their pampered pooches. Then by all means!

So there you have it: our take on taking really good real estate headshots. Keep in mind that there is an exception to every rule. If you have positioned yourself in a niche market, you may find a reason to do every don’t and avoid every do. The most important thing to remember is that your headshot is often your first impression – make it count.

Read the follow-up: 6 New Real Estate Headshot No-No’s

Updated January 25th, 2017: Even though it’s been about four years since this list went live, the dos and don’ts are still as relevant as ever. In the meantime, new services have appeared online, specifically meant to help agents and other professionals evaluate their own headshots.

If, like most people, you have trouble telling whether your photographs are appropriate for use in a business context, don’t worry. There are many variables to take into account, and many pieces of conflicting advice, so feeling unsure is natural. In order to make sure you’ve got the right headshot for the job, you can now use a headshot evaluation service like the SRK Headshot Evaluator. These services base their evaluation on simple but powerful rules for a proper headshot, cutting through all the clutter.

And now, about that link we promised you earlier. Click here to waste a little time looking at some very silly real estate headshots (names withheld to protect the innocent).

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  • I love this blog post! I have REALTORS® in my office with 10 year old photos on all their marketing material including office front picture. One guy is pointing his index fingers like he a quick draw cowboy & another gal poses with cats. You may want to add to this post, people should use a professional photographer for their profile picture. As REALTORS®, we make good money & have no excuse to use a picture taken by their friend/family using a $200 camera or even a camera phone!

  • Daniel H. says:

    This is an excellent list of do’s and don’ts. I often tell my real estate headshot clients the very same thing, and when they take their headshots and use it for advertising, they find more and more people contacting them because of the professional look of their headshot.

  • […] got a charismatic headshot, catchy slogan and the best domain name. You have great listings and tons of helpful resources that […]

  • I just went through a photo shoot with a professional photographer for an updated head shot and I can’t stand it. It really looks to “yearbook-y”. So, I’m holding off on using it for the time being. I really think something with a little personality or warmth goes a long way (the shot of the woman at the top of the blog is nice, for instance).

    It’s tough getting a good headshot since most photogrpahers, like most Realtors, go with “what has always been” and never think outside the blue background box.

  • Excellent article. Thank you Creel, for keeping us educated with up-to-date professional advice. Thank you for years of great head shots for my business cards.

  • Matt says:

    Love this article. I’m a former realtor myself & now head of business affairs of a successful photo studio ( One thing that frustrates me so much is seeing good realtors fail because of their headshot. Realtors are professionals in their field, making our lives easier. Photographers are professionals at images & in a world where your image is your brand, I wish more realtors would get their professional headshots done! It really was embarrassing to be sitting in my office in NYC getting more calls than anyone else because my photo looked the best- showing off your image in a good light is key and was often the deciding factor for people looking for an agent in a flooded market. The only thing worse than no headshot is a fuzzy, blurry one with a prop!

  • […] and the right headshot that’s both professional and personable can make all the difference. Update your agent headshot to reflect your brand, business and […]

  • Yucel says:

    What do you feel is reasonable investment in various markets for headshots.

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