It is not uncommon for real estate photographers to charge a few hundred dollars per shoot for a simple photoshoot only (no video). Generally, real estate agents are tired of the issues that come along with hiring someone who doesn't have a proper business process in place. This includes late delivery of photos, no invoicing procedure, poor quality work, etc. There are always eager photographers who will try their hand at real estate for $75 or so. Typically, a basic shoot involves the photographer driving a minimum distance and delivering 25-50 photos; the more photos the photographer has to deliver, the more time it will take to capture, cull, and post-process the photos.
Photographic services aren't priced the same for all photographers. It depends on the type of product or service that you're offering. Real estate photography may cost several hundred dollars for a few images alone. High-end photos can cost thousands of dollars and might include premium add-ons. Data shows that, in the 50 largest cities in the United States, real estate photography services typically cost between $93-$300 per session. This price is based on a 3,000 square-foot home and includes 10-25 MLS-ready photos.
Take a look at what real estate photographers charge in a few different states and cities:
Maine - For homes over 3,000 square feet, one photographer charges $225 and for homes under that amount, $190. The price does not include videography.
Utah - One real estate photographer charges $130 per photo and $300 per video.
Charleston, South Carolina - One real estate photographer charges $500 per listing. The average listing price for the homes she shoots is $1.3 million.
Miami - There are real estate photographers who charge between $250-$500 per photograph.
Pricing your real estate photography services appropriately can be a challenge. If you price them too low, you won't make much money, but if you price them too high, very few clients will contact you. Keep reading to learn how to price your services appropriately.
Factors to consider when setting your pricing
The experience you have in the industry will affect your income, regardless of whether you work for a company or own your own business. Even if a new photographer does the same work as a highly-rated one, the more inexperienced one will make less.
A person's ability to use a camera does not make them a seasoned photographer. Clients are looking for photographers who can find and highlight the most beautiful aspects of a home or other property. This ability only comes with training and experience.
You may have clients whose properties are right in your community, but others may require you to drive or take public transportation. Whether it takes you 10 minutes or two hours to get to their property, you will still need to pay for gas. Be sure to factor in transportation costs when you price your services. Another option is to lower the service price, then ask the client to cover transportation costs.
You can deduct your vehicle expenses as business expenses if you are in the United States. (Remember that, once you start working, you are a business as far as the IRS is concerned, whether you set up an LLC or not.)
Relationship with Clients
Consider your communication time with clients when pricing your services. This holds true whether you communicate by phone, email, or another method.
To avoid wasting time, educate your clients about what you expect during the photo shoot. Ask them to clean and declutter the property before you arrive.
It is important to discuss your expectations, as well as the client's needs and how long the photoshoot will take.
One of the quickest ways to make your real estate photography business unprofitable is to buy too much gear. Fortunately, real estate photography does not require a vast array of lenses or the latest in camera bag technology. The photos will only be seen 400px wide on an MLS listing, so you'll need serviceable equipment.
Quality gear is not completely unnecessary; I love photo gear more than anybody. But to make a business work, especially in the early stages, you need to cut costs.
If you get sucked into the details of a shoot, post-processing can easily consume more time than taking the pictures. By replacing skies, masking together window exposures, and making other time-consuming edits, you can significantly increase the amount of money you need for your real estate photography to be profitable. You can enhance your real estate photos using presets, actions, and brushes in Lightroom, or you can hire a freelancer to do the job for you on Fiverr. If you want to scale your photography business, you can find someone on Fiverr that will edit for a lower price than you. It means less work for you, but you are still making money! Choose whatever suits you best, but don't forget that post production is vital to your success.
In my opinion, a standard package should offer editing typical of what can be accomplished in the Lightroom basic panel (camera raw), and mostly with Lightroom presets. In the event that I have to round trip any of the photos into Photoshop, I will need
to charge the client a premium. Don't be afraid to charge extra if you have to do more.
Timing and Turnaround
Real estate agents need the photos as soon as possible after a shoot. Time is money. Additionally, they often can't give the photographer much advance notice since new homes need to be listed constantly. To be able to fit in these types of shoots, a photographer must have a flexible schedule.
You may have to charge more to make it worthwhile if you have to constantly photograph homes with short notice and tight turnaround times.
In most cases, real estate agents expect the photos to be ready within 48 hours (and often within 24 hours) so they can put the home on the market as soon as possible.
Pricing varies greatly based on where you live. A real estate photographer in San Francisco is far more likely to be able to charge $200 for a real estate photo shoot than one in Waco, Texas. You should not undervalue yourself just because you live in a small town. Many realtors earn 6% commissions on a sale. For a $300,000 home, that's $18,000. Often, the seller has hundreds of thousands of dollars contingent on the sale. Do you think it makes sense to spend $200 - $500 on photography? Of course!
Some real estate photography gets far more complex than just taking 35 or 40 photos inside the home. Real estate photographers can charge a premium for their work and generate much higher income by offering more specialized services.
A high-quality real estate video is more than simply a slideshow of photos in video format. While anyone can make a simple video of their photos, a high-quality one goes much deeper. Usually, it involves using a Gimbal and walking throughout the home, so that the video feels buttery smooth and shows the layout of the home to the potential buyer. You will also need to purchase music for your videos. I highly I highly recommend audioblocks.com for those who are interested. The reason I like audioblocks is that you can use the music in commercial projects, and you can download as many songs as you want for just $99 a year. I liked having that subscription to use in my photography and video projects.
Adding drone photography to a real estate listing is also popular. Drones provide an elevated view of the house and neighborhood, giving potential buyers a better sense of the home's exterior. There is a rigid limit set by the FAA on drones used for commercial purposes. You will need to apply for a section 333 exemption with the FAA. You can do that for free, but it may take time to research.
To get an elevated perspective, you don't have to use a drone. A painter's pole can be used with an adapter on the end for a tripod screw to get a simple elevated shot of a home's front. Then raise it up 20 feet and you're ready to shoot. To trigger the camera remotely, you can use a trigger trap or other wireless release, or just set it to use an intervalometer. Click here to see the one I recommend on Amazon.
Another option for charging a premium is to do 3d modeling of the interior of a home. This is time-consuming and expensive, but if you have a client who is a builder, you may be able to charge a significant amount of money for it. Take a look at Matterport if you're interested in 3d modeling of homes.