I have written lots of things about real estate photography, and this one of those difficult areas for many photographers.
The amount you can charge for real estate photos depends principally on the value, size, and type of property you are photographing, and the location that the property is in. Your experience, portfolio, quality of work, reputation, quality of service delivery and your interpersonal skills will also influence the amount you are able to charge. The final factor is the state of the economy, markets, competition, and how much you need the work.
OK – that is the headline out of the way. In this post I am going to break this down and go through each point in detail. By the end this post you will know enough to be able to come up with a range of rates that you can charge.
How do you price real estate photography?
Normally this is done on an all in, fixed fee. This is to take the photos and process and issue them to the client.
You can also price work on a per photo issued basis, or on an hourly rate for taking the photos and editing them, but the fixed fee is what most people do.
I price work on a fixed fee.
And a word about the fee
In your quote you need to specify what is included, and also what is not included. I state the maximum number of photos, and that if there is excessive editing required (due to the condition of the property say) that there will be an additional fee for the additional editing time, charged at a quoted hourly rate.
What kind of rates can I charge?
The fee for most real estate photography work will be in the range of $/£50 to $/£300.
How much do real estate agents pay?
Phone them up and ask them. Simple. They will have their own rates that they pay that give you a great start in working this out for yourself.
Value and size of the property
In very crude terms the bigger and higher value the property is the higher the fee that you can charge will be. Higher end properties require a higher standard of photography than is needed for lower value properties.
Think about it – you would expect photos of a $/£10M house to be to a higher standard than for a $/£100,000 house. And so do buyers, sellers, and agents.
How I started off
I started off photographing regular, normal houses and producing floor plans for £50. This would take me a couple of hours to take the photos and draw out the floor plan, and another couple of hours to process and issue the photos and prepare and issue a clean dimensioned floor plan.
£50 for half a days work.
This was for an online estate agent, and the problem with fees at this level is that there are lots of photographers prepared to work for fees of that level.
I do not do that anymore.
And at the other end
At the other end of the real estate market is the high end properties marketed by high end realtors. They are on a percentage fee and should have budget allowances to pay much more than $/ £50 for a set of photos.
So in crude terms the more valuable the property the higher the fee (potentially).
And then there is another angle
This is one that you might not be aware of – bespoke high end private houses where the owner commissions the photographer direct. I have done quite a few of these jobs where the owner wanted control of the photos so commissioned me direct. Now I cannot tell you who but a couple of these were quite famous folk which was very exciting and also enjoyable!
And these are one off jobs for individuals, so you can quote accordingly.
Type of property
If you think of real estate do you just think of houses? Well real estate also includes commercial properties, so let’s not exclude them.
And the rates for these could well be higher as the values of the transactions may be higher, and this is in a commercial environment and not dealing with house holders.
So we all need to broaden our thinking here, and in doing so increase the potential markets that we can work in.
Rates will vary depending on where you are. I am talking here not only within the UK but anywhere in the world of course. So treat what I say with an amount of caution as I have no idea what the rates are everywhere else in the world, and my blog is read by people in over 70 countries!
If you are a newcomer you will not be able to charge as much as a seasoned pro with a vast portfolio. That is just life, and quite right too.
But the good news is this – every job that you do is another step in expanding your experience and building your portfolio – you just need to know this and that everyone had to start somewhere.
The quality of your portfolio will influence how much you can earn, rather than how much you can charge. There is only so much real estate agents will pay for photos of a certain property value, so if you want to earn more you have to move up the property ladder to larger, more exclusive properties (see what I did there!).
And the chances of doing that with a modest portfolio of modest properties is less likely than if you have a range of lower and higher end properties in a portfolio.
Quality of work
This is one of those that is rarely mentioned – the quality of your work.
Your work has to be to a professional standard, with images that are
- Well composed
- Technically correct
- Well processed
- Show the property at its best
Real estate agents are not looking for award winning images, they just want professional standard images that they can use to help sell or lease properties. Quickly and with no hassle. Remember this point!
Your portfolio should represent the standard of work that you are able to produce for an agent.
If you are the go to real estate photographer in your area you will be able to charge more than someone no one has heard of.
That is why building a great, local reputation is so valuable, you create a demand for you the person, which can allow you to charge more and get more work.
One to think about.
Quality of service delivery
Anyone with a camera can, in theory, take professional standard photos of a building. Cameras are so clever these days that the playing field has levelled off quite a bit.
The photos you take will not make you stand out I am afraid – but the level of service you provide will. More on this in my upcoming course.
Quite simply, how you deal with people. This should be top of your list, and something that you should always have in the forefront of your mind.
Be the nice guy/ gal. Be that happy smiley person. Be the photographer that everyone loves.
Treat everyone how you would like to be treated.
Not rocket science but you need to be aware of this and do this every time you deal with someone.
The state of the economy
The state of the markets will determine property prices and rates for photographers. Whilst there is nothing we can do about this, we all need to be aware of this.
Rates can change so don’t be surprised if this happens- thankfully they can go up as well as down so it is not all bad.
Are you the only photographer in your area? Or are you fighting 50 other photographers for each job. You need to find out, and the best way is to ask the agents that you are trying to work for – they will tell you.
And this is one big bonus tip for you – if you want to know anything just phone the agent you want to work for and talk to them. Don’t email them, talk to them, and arrange to pop in and have a chat.
How much you need the work?
You need to decide is how much you want/ need to earn, and where you are/ want to be in the market. When you are starting out it is likely that you will have another source of income, which is great as you are not chasing work as you need the money.
But as you grow you might end up in that position of having to get work to put food on the table. And that can affect how much you are able to charge.
That is why other related sources of income are so important – again another one for my upcoming course.
A word on starting out
The hardest real estate job to get is the first one. It is also the hardest job to do. Get the first one out of the way and it gets easier I promise.
But how do you get that first job? One way is to offer to do the shoot for free, in the hope of getting more work.
Lots of people will tell you not to do this, but what you can do is explain that you will do one shoot for free, and if the client is happy with that then you will do future shoots at a fee that you agree before doing one free shoot.
And there is one more thing that you can do, but I am saving this magic little gem for the course I am writing at the moment.
If you want to know more about real estate photography check out my real estate photography page.
If you want to know more about me, and for everything else just head over to my Start Here page.
And you can watch the video for this blog post here – yes I have my own You Tube channel which is nice!
Photography Explained Podcast
Yes I have my own podcast, the Photography Explained Podcast, which is very good, even if I do say so myself! Photography things explained in less than 10 minutes (ish) without the irrelevant details.
That’s all for this week