Let’s be honest, Real Estate Professionals come face to face with their own sense of vanity (or lack of) many times in some very big…. literally BIG ways. Think about all the places our personal images are prominently displayed. How many portraits of our cohorts are featured in every newspaper? Many of our listing signs have our smiles prominently on view. Our websites and social media pages are also branded with our image. Let’s not forget the billboards…. it is a little unnerving seeing your photo on a scale THAT large as you drive by a prime advertising position. Don’t think too long about the multitude of people who view the faces of real estate professionals in photos who have never made or may never make any personal real life contact with them….. yet, they begin to view us as familiar. Ahhhhh, that’s right, that’s why we subject ourselves to these displays, to gain familiarity and recognition of not just our name but our image as well. People feel they know us before we meet. We are initializing a sense of trust. So,…. what’s my point? Here goes…… There are those of us that tend to use the SAME photos for so long, we no longer look in real life like anything other than a distant relative of the pictured self. Don’t hate on me just yet or think me too shallow, let me explain.
I understand the many reasons it is simply easier to keep using the same photos year after year. Most of us have invested considerable time, money, thought and emotion into creating and capturing an image of ourselves that we feel reflects us positively. We all have little parts of our appearance that if we are honest make us a little squeamish about seeing blown up to the size of a car. So when we DO have a photo session that our clothes are fitting nicely and the angle of the shot makes our nose look smaller or our chin look bigger, our hair is the right length and our smile is genuine….. (Remember that episode of the show “Friends” and the character Chandler’s smile goes horribly wrong every time there is a photo taken?) ….then we truly want to check that chore off our list and be able to use it without thought moving forward. However, just like with driver’s license photos, if they aren’t updated are the photos really great for identifying, or in our case branding us? Some folks are lucky: They have awesome genes and the effects of aging don’t seem to apply to them….They don’t have much weight fluctuation and have a classic non-trendy hairstyle and maintain the same color…. They wear clothes that are not tied to a specific era by cut, fabric, or pattern….. But for the rest of us….. You may need a new photo a little more often than once a decade (or in a couple of anecdotes, more than once in three decades…).
Really, this problem is probably less justifiable now than ever. So many good and even some great amateur photographers are available to take professional headshots and willing to meet you on your own time in literally any setting. Gone are the mandatory sessions at “Olan Mills” like portrait studios with the appointments and props and …. well, you know. And honestly, it is far more affordable to take photos with more frequency. They aren’t nearly as expensive as they once were, and to own the digital copies at that! I do want to clarify that I’m not suggesting anyone lose the professional sense of these images. Using a “selfie” for this week’s newspaper spread probably isn’t wise. Nor should you use the photo of you executing the post winning goal celebration dance as your social media profile on your business sites. With that said, I really challenge everyone to take a good, long look in the mirror and ask yourself if you still look like the photos you’re using in your branding. Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds or lost a few (though our tendency to update in that case is typically more of a celebration), perhaps you’ve drastically changed your haircut or colors, whatever the changes, remember we want to build a familiarity and trust with people. If we don’t look like our photos it sends a completely different message (Are we untrustworthy or somehow untruthful? or Are we too busy or unconcerned with details of our business?) anyway, messages that are certainly not our intent. Take a minute, ask a coworker for brutal honesty, then make sure you’re reflecting a true reflection of who you are.