Please Like My Picture

Don’t look now. It was time. Couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to suck it up. Force myself to man-up and get a new promo photo taken this week. See below.

I suppose I could have checked my image into the Photoshop Salon and Success Spa. Gotten one of those painless Virtual Make-Overs. The kind that can morph a hardworking Realtor into a Top Producer relaxing inside a Macys ad.

Business down? No problem. Step up to the toolbox bar. Pull your chin up with some Virtual Liposuction. Disappear those worry lines with Virtual Retin-A (a little dab will do ya.) Lift sagging sales with a quick shot of Virtual Botox. Iron out all of life’s wrinkles and take the extra weight of the world off your back (and your front). Put a gleam in your eye so you can wink at your own sharper image and smile all the way to the bank. Doubles as a free Facebook facelift too.

But no… the National Association of Realtor Code of Ethics is quite clear. Statutes say real estate advertising should be truthful and accurate. Not misleading.

We Agents aren’t supposed to photoshop junked cars or power lines out of our listings these days.

And we aren’t supposed to inflate any ocean views that can really only be glimpsed by standing tippy-toe on a stack of telephone books in the corner of a back bedroom while staring through a knothole in the fence on a sunny day in the wintertime when the neighbor’s tree has lost all its leaves.

And since, in reality, we Real Estate agents have to sell ourselves to you sellers first, well before we even get the opportunity to sell your house…and since a growing number of people are shopping for the perfect Realtor online these days in a process not too different from speed dating on Match.com… in good conscience, I just couldn’t allow myself to keep using the same old/young picture I’ve been running.

That would be false advertising. Like a bad personal ad pitched as professional persona. Real estate’s inside-out portrait of Dorian Grey. Bad juju in search of good mojo. I don’t want to be all souled out before the end of my career. That would really get old fast.

So I went online and found a photographer specializing in real estate business and boudoir photos, even though, in the pit of my stomach, I really felt like shooting myself.

From there, the story gets even more blurry. Lights. Camera. Acting.

I’m still shuddering at the experience. The rapid-fire sound of that cold-blooded shutter clicking. That black hole of a lens stealing little snippets of my soul. Chopping them up further into byte-sized frames fit only for stereotyped public consumption. Soylent Green! It’s people!!

Was the photographer telling me to say cheese? Or was he saying cheese-y?
I recall begging God not to let me look like Nick Nolte’s mug shot or anyone even remotely resembling the strangers that showed up at my last high school reunion.

I just kept hoping some mysterious power would intervene. Fluff my aura. Bathe me in a glorious halo of back-lighting. Subliminally smooth out all the ravages the real estate market has inflicted on my picture perfect profile over the years. Real Estate years are like dog years you know. Every year in the business equals 7 years in “real” life.

It’s over now. But I’m still processing. Reflecting on my reflection. Some inner voice keeps asking: “Who is that Realtor? Why is he smiling? Is that the real me? Or the realty me? And what am I really trying to say?”

What are all the rest of the pictures in today’s paper trying to say? Is there any other profession that has a greater love/hate relationship with it’s own self-image than real estate does? A tougher time with the push-pull of its own promotion?

And there’s the conundrum. The strange pact with the devil we all sign up for. The paradoxical rule of the game. Selling the sell of ourselves.


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