Agent Photos... the good, the bad, and the "are you sure about that?" - PART I

Real Estate Agent with Long & Foster Real Estate

Most of us bought a house before we were agents, right?  I remember going with my mom to look at my first house.  We got an agent and she was fantastic!  She took us to see properties that were in our price range, had what we asked for, and we found a house that day, wrote the offer, and bought it.  Now, after all said and done, she handed us her card, before we got back in my mom's car to return to the hotel.  I couldn't stop looking at it! Who on earth was THIS woman?  She was about 25 years younger than the woman we'd just met with.  We rode around with her for hours, and I sat in the back of the car staring at the folds in the back of her neck (you couldn't expect an 18 year old to focus on the task at hand... not the whole time!).  I couldn't imagine that the 35 year old in this picture had neck folds like the ones I had counted over and over in my head on the ride from house to house.  So, being a thinking person, I said to myself that she had to be using this picture for one of several reasons:

  • She is still on her first 1000 business cards from 1971.
  • She ordered 50,000 cards in 1971.
  • She was too busy to take another picture - no free time in the last 20 years.
  • She used a lot of night cream before the photo was taken, then abruptly stopped.
  • I didn't have on my glasses - I hated wearing my glasses.
  • She had her younger sister pose for the picture since she was so busy selling real estate.
  • The picture was taken with one of those special cameras from the Twilight Zone. If it was used to take MY picture, it would actually resemble an in-utero sonogram photo.

Well, I soon forgot about it, until I moved in, and started getting mail from her with more pictures... calendars for the fridge, CMA's, etc.  I put the magnets on the fridge, and when people came by and I saw them looking at it, I felt obligated to say, "She looks nothing like that."

Fast forward many moons to when I got my license.  Things are not always what they seem.  I took the picture you see on my profile just 3 years ago.  Seems pretty recent for an adult photo, right?  I mean, we are not in grade school! We don't need to take pictures every year! We don't change that much, do we? First of all - I went to my local camera shop to take that picture. It is a passport photo.  No professional studio, turn your head this way, tilt this way, lean that way. Secondly, I have on sweatpants and flip flops on the bottom.  Do I still look like this?  It has only been 3 years right?  Well, since that photo, I have gotten married, had 2 kids, and moved. Big life changes can equal BIG physical changes.  I don't have my picture on cards anymore (the reason is another article all together) but I do have them on some flyers.  At an open house, a visitor said - "wow, what a gorgeous picture! Um, is that you?"  I wanted to... well, I don't know what I wanted to do!

I have been thinking of updating the photo, but I am used to the," wow" reaction that this picture gets!  I don't want an average or below average reaction.  I am spoiled!  So I continue to decieve the public.

I don't know why other agents don't update their photo after 10+ years.  Sometimes, it is just amusing!  I see photos of agents that I know and see often, and when I see their photo in the Buyer's Journal with their ad, I have to chuckle to myself.  You can only fool the customer until you meet them.  We put pictures on our stuff for different reasons, but most times, people see your photo and for whatever reason, they want to work with the person they see in the picture.  Are we being deceitful by presenting our better selves from yesteryear, or are we really just deceiving ourselves?  Who is the picture REALLY for?  I welcome your comments...

Comments (37)

DAdrea Davie
Keller Williams Realty - Stockton, CA
Stanislaus & San Joaquin Short Sale Agent thought on this is that if you have the same pictures it allows people to become familiar with you. The more they see your picture the more familiar they become with you. However, it is a negative if you look nothing like your picture. I would look at my picture and if there is a major difference from then to now than it's time to take a new picture (or try to get back to the way you looked in the picture :))


May 23, 2007 07:43 AM
Dennis Serra
Meridian Business Group - Schaumburg, IL

How can you brand your self if you look nothing like your photograph? 

The idea is to have the client remember who you are; not who you were.

This phenomena may be unique to Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and Realtors.  I am not sure of any other industry that practices this on a regular basis.

Too Funny.

May 24, 2007 08:35 AM
Edith Wharton
Cottage and Loft Realty - Midlothian, VA
Realtor - Chesterfield VA
That was so funny!
May 31, 2007 04:36 PM
Matthew Zgonc
Aksland Real Estate - Modesto, CA
Realtor, CFS, CVS
The picture is so they can put a face with the name.  As long as you look professional, everyone knows that aging will occur.
Nov 07, 2007 07:43 AM
Jennifer Hartwick
Crane and Crane Real Estate - Columbia, MO
I love how you wrote that you had sweatpants and flip flops on.  We have a local agent who I believe, shows her assests a little too much in her photos:)
Nov 07, 2007 03:02 PM
Misty Thomas
Houston Realty - Crosby, TX
Realtor Crosby, TX
HAHA!! This is funny! You did a great job of capturing this story!! I will make a mental note to always keep my photo updated!! Thank you!
Mar 20, 2008 03:03 PM
Kandace Havner
Aliance Properties - Crosby, TX
I have thought this myself many times over when seeing business cards. However, I am the type that constantly changes hairstyles and color, I could go broke trying to keep updated pictures on everything. I guess I will at least try to update it once a year.
Apr 18, 2008 07:49 AM
Nancy Kent
RE/MAX Hill & Valley - Granby, MA
RE/MAX Hill & Valley, Western Mass

Great post Eva! I used to work w/ an agent who had a pic on her card that was taken at a wedding. Nice pic, but she happened to be wearing a strapless dress in the photo. When she cropped it, it was just bare shoulders and up. Not exactly a business photo if you know what I mean :)

You look great in your pic by the way. I can see why you keep it!

Apr 18, 2008 01:51 PM
Scott Owens
Scott Owens Limited - Halifax, NS

"Is that you"? LOL!!!  I tend to be the first one to point out when agents do not look like their cards (like the glamour shot ones).  I wasn't sure it was important, but now that I see that other agents actually look at this, it's time to book a photo appt...

We do sometimes change fast: in April of this year, I bought 2000 cards.... since then, I am down about 15 pounds, have changed my hairstyle, and have been getting more sleep, changing the look of my eyes (I no longer look like a zombie).  I started thinking about getting new cards when a client looked at my card and said "Wow, you were fat when you got these cards".  Gee, thanks.

PS - I will never look at your picture again without thinking that you are wearing sweats and flip flops outside of the frame.  LOL funny stuff.  Great blog.

Oct 18, 2008 08:06 AM
Kathleen Lordbock
Broker/Short Sale & Staging Specialist - Crosby, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

I was just contemplating yet another photo session and then this article pops up. I want some Airbrushing.

Jan 13, 2009 01:47 PM
Alan Kirkpatrick
Austin Texas Homes - Round Rock, TX
Alan in Austin


What a fun post. Here is my business card picture next to my current likeness:






                                                               How I look Now.




Business Card Photo

Jan 13, 2009 01:58 PM
Rita Fong
RE/MAX REAL ESTATE TODAY, Executive Broker 901-488-9590 - Marion, AR
Realtor - Marion Arkansas Homes for Sale

This is so ironic, I am pretty much "new" in this industry, just turned 2 years old.  But I just retook my new picture. Nothing has changed much in my last year's picture, I just think I need to get it a more update look, that's all.  There are plenty of agents use the same photographer I use, his wife made a comment about some agents don't even look like their picture on their namecard.  We kind of joke about it.  I told her they can retouch my picture some, not necessary to take off 10 years from me or crown me as Miss America.  Just make me look like me.  I know I will be embarrassed to hand out my business card if they look like they came from 10 years ago.

Feb 11, 2009 04:19 PM
Sonia Wood
Keller Williams Valley Realty - Abbotsford, BC


That story is hilarious!  As Homer Simpson would say, "It's funny because it's true!"  If you've seen MY most recent picture, I've got blonde hair. However, after 40 years, I got sick of the blonde and I coloured it light brown, and a few weeks after that, I got my daughter to put some highlights in it!!!  Now how can I keep up, taking new photos every time?????  However, I WILL do so ----I keep telling my son, "Maybe you can take some of those pictures for me today", EVERY DAY. (Never gets done!)

Thanks for the laugh! And by the way, that photo of you IS beautiful!  I don't blame you for keeping it!!!

Sonia (RetroRealtor!)


Feb 12, 2009 09:24 AM
Bettina Settles
Greenwood, IN
Your Indiana Connection

I like pictures, but I am keeping them off my business cards....


Pretty much every Real Estate Agent has a picture on their card, and to stand out you need to do somethingdifferent. I have a picture on my website and any other electronic promotional items but not on printed. That can be changed out very quickly to have an up-to-date picture of myself

I have seen Agents that have been in the business for over 10+ years and never changed the picture on their printed promotional items including business cards....

Mar 26, 2009 07:21 AM
Libby Offnick
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Mooresville, NC
ABR, e-PRO, SPS just reminded me that it is time for a new photo.  I HATE being on the lens side of the camera.  I take on average about 500 pics a week but fight being the subject.  I need to put my big girl pants on, take a deep breath and go for it.

Apr 09, 2009 01:59 PM
Scott Owens
Scott Owens Limited - Halifax, NS

I really like this story...many of the same thoughts that I have when I look at [some] cards.  I have come back to read this story 4 times over the if you'll excuse me, I have to go get updated photos...

Jul 08, 2009 09:19 AM
Latonia Parks
Top Bragg Realty, Fayetteville NC, Home of the 82d ABN DIV - Fayetteville, NC
Certified Military Relocation Expert

I still have my business cards that show my hair before I cut it.  Even the picture on my profile shows longer hair than I currently have.  They always know it is me in the pics but can I get my money's worth??? Lol

Oct 23, 2009 02:29 AM
Frank Harris
Keller Williams Realty Centre - Columbia, MD

I have noticed that many agents have pics from years gone by... For the past year I have been using my caricature and people say it looks like me, but in the future I may just drop my picture especially if I get attacked by the neck folds.

Such a truthful blog.


Dec 02, 2009 01:14 PM
Denise OnullDell
Santa Clarita Mobile Notary - Santa Clarita, CA
Mobile Notary Public/Real Estate Agent

I'm so glad I came across your post Eva.  I was about to go out and spend more money to have a professional photo taken for my new business cards.  However, after reading your post and all the comments, I'm going to keep the photo off the business cards for now. 

I am going to try the "passport photo," and see how that comes out.  We'll see.

Fantastic post!  Thanks :)

Mar 13, 2010 08:35 AM
Pamela Cendejas
Second Self Virtual Assistance - Kingman, AZ
Second Self Virtual Assistance (928) 692-3235

Hi Eva - I laughed throughout your entire post.  They say we laugh at things because we have experienced them.  I love the "glamour shots" photos I've seen on agent's cards.  You're right, when you meet your clients, the cat's really out of the bag.  Come to think of it, my photo is about 4 years old.  Time to say cheese! 

BTW - I'm curious what others think of this:

I was told by a business coach that people don't want to do business with someone who doesn't post a photo.  I didn't think it was such a big deal but apparently some do.  What do you think?

Jun 04, 2010 05:47 AM