More on Headshots

One of the best articles I have read on the subject of advertising photography and headshots is from Tomlin Nicks Wells & Townsend Advertising Inc. And while we are on the subject of leading Realtor and Broker advertising agencies I would rank them at the top.Out of the Box ImageBefore we get into the subject of portrait photography I wouldalso recommend their eMagazine called Out of the Box. It is subscribed to by more than 275,000 real estate professionals and you will see why with every issue.

When they are creating an ad for a client they view photography as the foundation of any exceptional advertising or marketing campaign. “The greatest advertising copy in the world, combined with the most irresistible offer, will draw little attention without high-impact images to support the message.”

What they do want in a headshot:

  1. High resolution images.
  2. VERY relaxed, candid, warm, open HONEST images of you.
  3. ONE will work, several are better.
  4. Look squarely into the camera, offer a warm, but not overly friendly smile, emit a feeling of safety, as though you were seeing an old relative you haven’t seen in a long time.
  5. Just be a real human being, forget being a star!

What they don’t want in a headshot:

  1. Crossed-arms
  2. Smug looks
  3. “Sold” signs
  4. Dogs
  5. Horses
  6. Relatives
  7. Or even a hint of narcissism.

What they recommend you wear for your shoot:

  1. You should have two or three outfits that you like and look good in.
  2. Brighter the better and contrast is important. For example, the contrast between a blouse or a shirt and a coat should be light to dark.
  3. If you don’t normally wear a tie, don’t wear a tie in the photo, just wear what you normally do, but make sure it is clean and ironed.
  4. Ladies, a high neck line is usually a nice look. Light make-up.
  5. Haircut and hair designs need to be fresh. Teeth clean.

Here are some examples they provide as guidelines for their clients with their actual comments:

SOME BAD PHOTOS (Click on the Images for a larger version)

Man Pointing

This is a stupid, ridiculous pose
that will cost this gentleman
plenty if he uses it. Too CEO,
and it is clear he is not a CEO.
Bad haircut.
And while finger pointing may
be popular, it is certainly not cool.

Man Thumbs Up Mediocre shot. Yes, he
looks real,candid, warm,
friendly and professional.
We could even
live with the thumbs-up
sign. The problem is, he
wore a really bad shirt. Get us some COLOR!

Man Not Smiling The “I haven’t smiled in 14 year look”
is not what we are looking for.
Does this gentleman look like
someone you’d want to call.
He may be the best real estate
agent in America, but, this
photo will not produce telephone calls.

Man looking over glasses wrong Another look at a
remarkably candid pose.
Now, while the pose
is warm and real, this is
not a great photo for us to work with.
The background is a distraction,
his hair could have
been combed.

SOME GOOD PHOTOS (Click on the Images for a larger version)

Woman SmilingThis is a nice pose, very relaxed and
honest looking young lady. She looks believable,
clean, fresh, sober and effective.
She is pretty, but not too-pretty; she is confident,
but not too confident.
This is an excellent photo for advertising use.

Man posing good photo with smile

Warm smiles work.
Fake smiles do not work.
Relax, find your happy button
and push it during the
photo shoot. Exaggerate
it if you must, focus on
the shoot.


Man Perfect Smiling Excellent image! EXACTLY what we’re
looking for in terms of distance,
lighting, contrast, brilliance,
pose, cropping, and the attitude projected.
This gentleman has achieved approachability
without having to resort to cheesy poses or trickery.

Man Cropped nice
Nice color.
Good contrast.
Well cropped.
High resolution photo.
This is what we are looking for..


Woman on Phone 2 Clean, fresh, happy, professional looking woman who
appears to be very successful without having to have
her photo taken standing next to her Mercedes Benz
to prove it.The color contrast, in this photo, was
created between the chair and clothes she is wearing, and its makes the photo. Notice the color matching between the tint in her hair and her coat. She’s happy, but not overjoyed in a fake way! REAL WORKS! Work on staying REAL! Light make-up, fresh haircut, she has done everything right.

If you have an example of either a great head shot or one that is not so great, please send me a copy.

I want to thank Tomlin Nicks Wells & Townsend for permission to use these photos and recommend if you are looking for high quality, effective advertising you give them a call at 800.221.4048. For other marketing you can always call me at 800-568-8338.

By the way, no Realtors’ feelings were hurt during the shooting of these images.

If you enjoyed this article and don’t want to miss the next one click here to get my marketing posts by email as soon as they are published. You will be prompted for an email address and you are set to go.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. I have to say, I’m surprised that the “holding the phone” pose won as a great photo. LOL. I find it irritating, but hey. I like all the other pictures and their labels.

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