To Photo or Not Photo?

Education & Training with Sell with Soul


It's a never-ending debate as to whether or not to include a photo on a real estate agent's business card. Some say yes; some say no (duh, that's the definition of a debate!).

Although it's interesting, when you ask the question in a public forum, I've noticed that most answer in the negative, explaining that "no one cares about your face" or that "doctors and lawyers don't have their pictures on their cards," or simply that "it's unprofessional."

And I get that. I do. Somehow it seems like unnecessary vanity to have your smiling face on a business card as if "anyone really cares about your face anyway," right?

Well... here's the thing.

Most people are really "bad with names." Just ask ‘em, they'll tell you straight out. Whenever I speak publicly, I always collect business cards from my audience and put them in a fish bowl because I like to keep my audience awake during the show by randomly giving away books and CD's. After the show, I'll go through the business cards one by one and spend several hours sending personal notes to the audience members I remember interacting with. Let me say that again - that "I remember interacting with."

99.9% of the time I only write to agents with photos on their cards. Because they're the only ones I liked? Of course not. They're the only ones I remember.

From a fishbowl full of hundreds of business cards, I can almost always remember every conversation I had with the people whose cards have a photo. The conversations I had with people without photos are completely forgotten. Sorry.

People remember faces. Ugly faces, pretty faces; doesn't matter. They may not remember the name that belongs to the face, but they know if they've seen a face before.

And the fact is, real estate agents are a dime a dozen. You may be doing an awesome job handing out your business card, but rest assured that your competition is, too. And if the "other" card sitting on someone's desk has a photo and yours doesn't, which agent is more likely to be remembered by that person?

So, go get a kick-a$$ photo of yourself and don't take the chance of being forgotten!

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Peggy Noel
RE/MAX Commonwealth - Chesterfield, VA
Bouchard, ABR, CDPE, SFR

Thanks - still on the fence - I have a picture on my card, but attended a workshop last week and his thought was that we were pretty much copycatting - still onthe fence, but hadn't thought of it in the way you did - which makes sense - thank you!

Sep 19, 2010 03:05 AM #46
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Well, Russell... let's qualify my advice with the assumption that if you're going to do it, do it right... just 'cause lots of people don't do it right doesn't mean you shouldn't do it right. Does that make sense? ;-]


Sep 19, 2010 03:10 AM #47
Dawn Maloney
RE/MAX Trinity Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist - Hudson, OH
330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio

Photos=remembered! My face is my logo.

Sep 19, 2010 03:45 AM #48
Joyce Godwin, Realtor, CRS
RE/MAX Elite Properties; Serving Cypress, Spring, Tomball, NW Houston - Houston, TX
RE/MAX Elite Properties


I have always felt it was an ego thing also. It took me a long time to give in to putting my photo on my business card and other materials.  That was a long time ago and have had a photo on my cards, etc. for at least the last 20 years - not the same photo :)    I don't know why I never thought of it more in terms of being remembered, more so than an ego trip.  I do like that thought much better.  I have seen a few agents who use caricatures and I have considered that, as I have never been a fan of my own photos either.  I think some people are photogenic and others (unfortunately) are just not - and that would be me.

I never thought about it in terms of being remembered or standing out, but there is a husband and wife team on the other side of Houston who use a caricature photo.  I talked with them several years ago and I do still remember who they are!  I didn't even co-op with them, they just showed one of my listings and I picked up their card and called them for feedback. And Houston MLS has thousands of agents.  So to remember them, must say something for their photo (caricature).  

Hmm . . . I am due to get new cards . . . may think about that!  That might be a case for having two sets of cards.  I'm not totally convinced I would be comfortable giving the caricature cards to everyone -- but maybe??

Glad I read this - it has given me something to seriously consider!  So, thanks to all of you!  And thank you Jennifer for bringing up the subject!

Sep 19, 2010 05:03 AM #51
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I've never been one to put my photo on my card though it's on some of my other marketing material. I think it's because as a lawyer I never would have considered it.  That said, you've given me something to ponder.

Sep 19, 2010 05:18 AM #52
Ricky Callahan
Cutler Real Estate - Columbus, OH
Providing clients with "The Simple Way Home".

I have to say that I have always gone with the photo on the card. I think it is a huge bonus to have your photo on your card because people generally remember faces not names. If a potential client meets you and one or two other Realtors in the same day they will more than likely call if they can actually see your picture on your business card because it will be easier for them to place what they talked about with you with your face, not your name.

Sep 19, 2010 05:26 AM #53
Leslie DeLuca
DeLuca Real Estate - Monterey, CA
No One Knows The Monterey Peninsula Like DeLuca

I don't think it is necessary to include a photo...but, I have had mine on my card and people say oh your that real estate broker.

Sep 19, 2010 06:16 AM #54
Gail Nyman - Re/Max United Real Estate- Dunkirk, MD

I got tired of having my face all over my cards too until I went to a Re/Max Convention a couple years ago. I was handing my card to another agent whom I admired and respected and she said to me "Honey, if you expect me to remember you for any reason, you really ought to have your photo on your card!" She went on to say with as many people as she meets, she never forgets a face. I switched back to the photos the minute I got home from the trip. I do them every couple of years and I call them my school photos.

Sep 19, 2010 07:59 AM #55
Bryan Robertson
Los Altos, CA

If the impression I've made on someone is so insufficient that they can't remember my name, then a picture will do little to remind them.  I use my photo online and in market materials only, never on my card.  In this area, that seems to be the standard for most agents for the clientele we serve.

Sep 19, 2010 08:16 AM #56
Peggy Campbell
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Scottsdale, AZ

I do not think I am photogenic, do not want to have a "glamour" shot on my cards either...however I do always put an updated pic on my business card orders, Long before I was a Realtor, I chose my listing agents from open houses over the years. Since I am not good at remembering names, I always needed their picture to remember which ones I connected with best and invited that one or two to meet with me about selling my home and buying another.

Sep 19, 2010 09:31 AM #57
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

My 2 cents:

  • YES to the photo
  • NO to the Glamor shot
  • Make sure your PIC looks like YOU
  • AND: Keep it 'fresh'

(that might be 4 cents Worth?)


Sep 20, 2010 04:50 AM #58
Vashon Hargrove
RE/MAX Specialists - Bowie, MD

There are alot of opinions being posted but can anyone testify that they saw their business increase or decrease through the addition or subtraction of their photo? 

Sep 20, 2010 05:11 AM #59
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

VL - great question. And my non-expert answer would be that there is no one magic bullet to success. Clients come in from dozens of sources - I got a listing once because my lawn guy saw my RE/MAX signs in the back yard. So, is your business card in itself an important part of your marketing strategy? Probably not - at least, I hope no one is relying on a business card to generate business for them. But if one open house visitor remembers me over the other agents he met that day because my photo was on my card, I'll consider that a valid testimony. If one cross-country real estate agent I met at the NAR convention sends a referral my way because she was able to remember me out of the dozens of other agents she met, again, that's certainly worth having my photo on a card.

Sep 20, 2010 07:18 AM #60
David Robinson
Lloyd Cullen Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Call Now (877) 828-0710

I guess it's time to take the plunge.  I have used all the reasoning over the years to stay away from photos but I will jump in now.  Thanks for the blog.

Sep 20, 2010 09:44 AM #61
Shannon Lewis
Beringer Realty - Champaign, IL
Realtor, Broker - Champaign-Urbana, IL

I'll add another thought (though I totally agree with the argument made here). In the age of social media, it's even more important to have your picture on your marketing material. People are looking for a connection. When I was picking a new doctor a few years ago, the hospital actually had the doctors' business photos on their website and I'll admit (for better or for worse) it did have an influence on my decision. I'm young-ish, and I wanted a young-ish female doctor. I wanted to work with someone who could relate to me, because I knew that I'd be happier and stick with that person long-term. And that's a trend no matter the business. Why not make it easier for people to find someone they connect with? (Along those lines, you'll want to be sure you look pleasant and approachable in your pic...very important, imo.)

Sep 21, 2010 02:47 AM #62
Gail Robinson
William Raveis Real Estate - Southport, CT
CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT

I reluctantly added my photo to my e-mail signature, business cards, and now on my sign riders.  It's part of branding and much as I dislike it, it has to be done.  In this age of social media, everyone expects to see your photo on Facebook, Linked In, etc.

Sep 22, 2010 01:19 AM #63
Dena Stevens Coriz
Rocky Mountain Realty - Canon City, CO
Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004

It is a never ending debate isn't?

Reason to not include a pix : I've been told a number of times I look younger than my picture.

Reason to include a pix ; at a chamber event a man who works for the post office reconized me from my pix on my postcards. Walked up and said "you're a Realtor aren't you?"

Sep 22, 2010 03:56 AM #64
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

I asked a new client today why/ how he made a decision to contact me? He said it was a combination of the friendly photo and the testimonials he read on how I handled my transactions.

Apr 09, 2011 04:54 PM #65
Lynn B. Friedman
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ... - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Dear Jennifer -

Yes - this has always been a BIG issue for me.
Probably easier for you because you are so beautiful and stylish!
Oh, well, maybe a Halloween photo?

Have a happy day -

Apr 14, 2012 05:04 PM #66
Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker
iXL Real Estate-Wiregrasss\ - Enterprise, AL
email: / cell: 334-494-7846

I have them with photo (company "standard" card), w/o photo (my design-a little "classier look" to me), and even clear plastic ones with my logo - more expensive, but I can GUARANTEE you that 99% of them are NOT thrown away!

have to use the company cards, but for those more serious or influential people, I use my logo card as well.

Dec 06, 2013 04:49 AM #67
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