10 Serious No No’s When It Comes to Your Branding Photo

What does your professional real estate photo say about you?   In perusing websites all around South Florida, I see a serious divergence between “professional” and “photography.” Quality photography in today’s high-tech world seems like common sense. Yet what do they say about common sense? It’s not so common.

Real estate agents have committed some serious photography bloopers.   Maybe in an effort to move quickly and just get a head-shot taken, we aren’t taking this opportunity to advertise ourselves seriously. You are your business; and your photo is the beginning of your branding. So here are a few tips that should be common sense:

  1. Never take an existing photo that includes another person and simply cut them out because it’s a good picture of you. This is already a serious faux pas when it comes to social media sites and is an even greater mistake on any of your professional sites or business cards.
  2. Be “ready” for your photograph the way you would be ready to greet a customer. In other words, take your shades off your head and put down your puppy!
  3. Think about the 5 words that you want customers to think of when they think of your services. After you’ve written them down, pick up your photograph. Give the photo to your business coach or colleagues you respect and ask them to write down 5 words that describe how you appear in the photo. Do their words match your list? If not, you may wish to re-think the picture. Hint: Most customers are looking for an agent they can TRUST, that EMPATHIZES with their needs, and that is an EXPERT PROFESSIONAL on the market. Does your photo convey that?
  4. Don’t use a photo from 15 years ago just because you looked good then.   Better to look like you, currently, because – after all – photos create brand-to-agent recognition.
  5. Don’t use a photograph that shows a serious or frowning face. Ok, so you’re a tough business person… no-nonsense… we get it. Studies show, however, that people will more often choose to contact a person that appears happy and smiling.
  6. Don’t cross your arms and face the camera straight on. Non-verbal communication happens in still photography just as easily as it happens in an active conversation. Crossing your arms in front of your body conveys a “closed” or “narrow” mind. If you insist on crossing your arms, turn your body to the side to create a more casual, approachable look.
  7. Lose the props. Web and business-card photos are small. The bigger the prop, the greater the distraction. We don’t need to see you blowing out your birthday candles or holding a golf club. Save specialty photos for larger ads or newsworthy articles that may call for lifestyle shots.
  8. Do you want to be on your customers’ “A” list? Of course! So, don’t allow your photo to look like a “B-rated” movie! And for heaven sakes, don’t take a selfie. Be sure the photo is taken by a professional photographer with a quality background and that it’s clear.
  9. Leave the glamour shots at the mall. Less is more when it comes to professionalism. Leave the dangling earrings and feather boa behind. Dress as if you were going on an interview for a multi-million dollar professional real estate business opportunity…   aren’t you?
  10. Think twice about skipping the photo. Many agents will say that they don’t want their photo on their card or ad for safety reasons, or because it’s all about the customer. I agree, it is all about the customer. Yet, surveys tell us that customers will pick up business cards with photos on them five times more than those that don’t have photos. So, if not a photo of you – pick a lifestyle shot consistent with your branding and make it compelling!

Bottom line… spend a little time and money on this. Branding yourself and your team is critical if you plan to advertise and market your abilities beyond prospecting. Don’t skimp on photographs – we’re in the age of instant visual gratification and three dimensional, high definition. Your professional photo shouldn’t look like you stood in front of a sheet at mom’s , uttered “cheese” and then had to shake it to develop.