Your profile photo must capture your personality and help you appeal to a home seller. But be mindful when you choose a photographer that a portrait photographer has a very different set of skills to a property photographer – so make sure you engage someone that’s good with people, not just houses.

If it’s time to update your real estate profile photos then this article is the perfect checklist to ensure you make the most of your time with your photographer.

Cristina Mahony, the resident portrait photographer, shares tips for getting the best out of your profile photo shoot, alongside some fantastic ideas for photo shoot locations.

Capturing the essence of you

As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and when it comes to capturing your natural beauty it’s important that your photographer has an excellent eye for detail and takes the time to explore every angle, to ensure they find your ‘best side’.

“Capturing essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” – Annie Leibovitz

A portrait photographer needs to be exceptionally good with people. It’s a very different skill set to photographing a home – properties don’t talk, have personalities to convey or emotions!

“You adapt to who you’re photographing.”– David Bailey

Cristina has been photographing people for close to 10 years and shares that there’s a lot to consider about the human aspects of a photo shoot;

“I may be a photographer but I also need to be a people person. I have a limited amount of time to get to know you (the real estate agent), to build a rapport with you.

“I need to find not only the right natural light but the inner light of the person I’m photographing.

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“Most people feel awkward in front of the camera. It’s therefore my job to establish a human connection, and help bring out your inner glow.

“When photographing people, it’s never a case of just point and shoot. I need to ‘walk the arc’, which essentially means that I make sure I keep moving around you, taking photos from many different angles.

“Everyone is photogenic; I just have to experiment until I find your best angle.”

Choose a photographer to match your personality

There are some useful questions to ask a photographer before your shoot. Find out a little about them, their background, life-stage, and life-experience. After all, you want to choose someone you’ll feel comfortable with on the day.

Ask to see their photographic portfolio and the real estate agent profiles they’ve taken previously. It’s pretty easy to take a peek at their Instagram page too, to see how artistic they are.

It’s important that your photographer can think creatively. You don’t want to look the same as every other real estate agent in your area, and you need your photographer to be able to think on their feet.

“It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. It takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.” – David Bailey

If your photographer has worked with real estate agents or marketing agencies like us before, they should also know in what size and format you need your photographs provided – so that the images can be cropped to the correct dimensions for both online and print.

We’ve often been sent images of agents cropped far too tightly, which is a shame because we can’t use them on their website or social media banners. That’s why we have resident photographers, like Cristina, on board to work with our clients. We’re able to give our photographers specific guidance before the photo shoot. We share information about the brand story we’ve devised for our clients alongside where we are planning to use the photos.

It’s also worth asking your photographer what usage rights you’ll have, such as how many photos you’ll be able to keep from the shoot and whether you can use them across all your marketing. We like to be generous and aim to give you ample choice and flexibility.

Lock in a versatile location

When choosing your shoot location, consider what reflects you most. What best represents the community in which you work, the type of properties you sell, and your overarching brand story?

Select a location that gives you a few different options. We like to find somewhere that will provide us with several different backdrops or ‘scenes’ to work with on the same day. These are either at the same place or within an easy walk.

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Your profile photos should showcase the homes and locations that are most important to people living in your core area. Consider the key features that buyers are actively seeking.

Locations we recommend

– In a home that you’ve sold.

– In a landscaped garden setting.

– In front of a white picket fence (if that’s the style of homes in your neighbourhood).

– On a verandah with a beautiful outlook.

– Tree-lined residential streetscapes.

– A beautiful nature-setting, in a local park or near a recognisable local landmark.

– A river, harbour or sea scape. Water always makes for a lovely scene.

– Interacting with clients, at a home open or auction.

Aim for scenery rich in features homeowners will love, with some vibrant colour or texture. Also, don’t be afraid to include other people in your photos. You can then use your photos to help tell a story about you and your personal brand across various marketing mediums. If you raised your family in the area, you could involve your kids.

If possible it’s also good to book a shoot in the ‘golden hour’, which is 60 minutes before sunset. This time of day gives your photographer an opportunity to backlight you, and to utilise the setting sun with its natural glow.

Locations or styles we suggest you avoid

Your office is possibly the least interesting location to choose. As is a picture in front of a plain white backdrop, or worse still having your photo cut out and placed on a white background.

It’s okay to have a plain coloured background but ensure it has some texture. If you stand in front of a building or wall, make sure it looks clean, there’s only so much photoshopping a photographer should do!

Midday is the worse time of day for a photo shoot as direct sunlight can add too many shadows and contrasts to your photos. You can head to an indoor studio, but remember these often come at an additional cost.

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Preparation is key to a successful photo shoot

Preparing for your shoot in advance is wise.

Consider how you will dress. How formal or informal you want to look. Suit or no suit. Tie or no tie. Try and avoid heavy makeup. And men, you should shave the evening before, to avoid looking too pale.

With clothing avoid patterns, stripes and logos. Light colours, such as white, light grey, soft blues, greens, pinks or mauve work much better than strong colours. It’s good to know what colours suit your complexion and stick with those.

Cristina says, “Try and limit the number of different colours you’ll have in the photo to four. Remember that mother nature will provide blue and green so choose colours that will compliment you and the surrounding setting.”

You should also consider your real estate brand colours. Try and tie in colours that work well with your brand. You don’t want anything to clash when your marketing materials are produced.

You could also bring props to add a pop of brand colour and interest. For example, Ray White has a palette of white, bright yellow and grey and their brand photos are typically light and airy.

Most Ray White offices also have plenty of bright yellow props to bring along to a shoot.

And most importantly, be prepared to commit to your look for some time. There’s no point having a new set of profile photos taken and then having a haircut, or changing your hair colour and shaving off your beard a month from now.

On the day of your real estate profile shoot

When the shoot day arrives, there’s a number of things a portrait photographer will focus on.

– The composition and framing you well. A good photographer is always mindful of what’s in the background, behind the subject.

– They’ll use multiple lenses and be able to create depth of field, i.e. that blurred effect.

– They should focus in on your eyes. They might use a light reflector to help give your eyes that extra sparkle and alleviate dark shadows on your face.

– They know how to work the light. Most won’t use a flash, as they can use natural light and exposure to achieve a better result.

– They’ll ensure you keep your chin up. Monitor your body language. Help you achieve a winning smile, to show off your pearly whites with a well-timed laugh.

“A very subtle difference can make the picture or not.” – Annie Leibovitz

– They will direct you on your posture. Arms crossed, behind back, hands in pockets – your photographer will find a stance that works best for you.

– They may even get you to pivot or twirl! Keeping you moving is a great technique for helping you to be as natural as possible.

All in all, if you have a positive and cooperative attitude, are prepared to relax and follow the instructions provided by your photographer, your photo shoot will be a great success.

Everyone’s inner beauty can be captured in a photograph; it just takes the right photographer and right frame of mind.

If you’d like to help with a professional photo to better promote your real estate brand, we’d be happy to assist, so simply get in touch. Check out some examples of our brand photography which include individual profiles, team photos and Instagram photo shoots.


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Written by Melanie Hoole

My team and I specialise in helping real estate and property professionals perfect their personal brand, build a first-class digital profile and implement inbound marketing activities to attract leads. If you are unsure which direction to take with your digital marketing contact me for help.

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