Taking property photos isn’t often considered a “real job”. That’s unfortunate, because it’s a potentially lucrative occupation. Like product photography, it isn’t glamorous, but it’s a good way to bring home the bacon if you line up just a few good clients. What’s more, if you like to just get out and shoot, property photos can be a great way to put a few miles on your vehicle and your camera.
It’s easy to simply say that you can generate an income from a particular photographic genre. Knowing how much you can actually charge for your services is another matter. Not only that, but without some idea of how much you can earn, how will you know whether this kind of photography is right for you?
According to this Thumbtack.com article, clients can expect to pay an average of $145 for a real estate photography shoot, with a high of $220 and a low of $95. There are a number of factors that impact the price, so I recommend reading the linked article before setting your own rates. One of the most important differences, of course, is handling the job and your clients professionally.
…you don’t necessarily have to have $3500 DSLR…
Real estate photography doesn’t require a lot of expensive gear. I don’t recommend using your smartphone as a camera, but you don’t necessarily have to have a $3500 DSLR, either. A full-frame camera will give you some advantages, but a good crop-sensor model will definitely get the job done. I prefer to work with a tripod and avoid supplemental lighting when possible.
Like most photographic genres, the lens you use can make or break your property shots. A wide angle will help you cover more area with fewer shots, but dealing with distortion can be a lot of work in post processing. Some real estate shooters are even turning to panoramic and “virtual tour” software, which means added expense and more time.
…you can set your aperture and focus, then just frame and shoot.
There’s another option available that can give viewers a better sense of space in your images without the need for expensive software or extra processing to straighten all those curved lines. The Irix 15mm f/2.4 rectilinear lens is a great choice for both interior and exterior real estate shots. Its field of view is ample, even on a crop sensor camera (about a 24mm equivalent), the sharpness of your images will be excellent and because of its rectilinear projection, you won’t have all those curved lines to deal with.
The Irix 15mm also offers the convenience of a hyperfocal scale and a focus lock so that you can set your aperture and focus, then just frame and shoot.
It’s important to consider the expenses you’ll incur on the job and one of the most important is travel. Your time on the road, fuel costs, meals and other factors come into play in determining your profits. To ensure that you’re not spending more on getting to the job than you’re making, establishing a territory is crucial.
Most realtors are licensed by their states, so they can sell properties that fall within those borders. On the other hand, most agents establish their own territories. After all, there’s a lot of competition out there and they have expenses of their own.
For you, that means good news in a couple of ways:
- Your local clients aren’t likely to ask you to travel far.
- You can make your services available to non-local realtors who want to list properties in your area.
The first step in finding clients for real estate photography is to find the agencies in your area. Don’t forget that property management companies, both residential and commercial are great prospects. In fact, commercial properties are usually a better choice, since the jobs can often be larger and more lucrative.
Once you’ve made your list, start by dropping off your business card at the front desks of your prospective clients. Don’t be afraid to follow up with a phone call. More agencies than ever are hiring professional photographers to increase their sales while decreasing their overhead.
If you’re looking for a niche that can help make your photography career a reality, give real estate photography a try.
All images ©Dana O. Crandell