- Your flat rate per hour of shooting/editing/traveling to and from the site
- Exactly what you should be expected to accomplish (i.e., don't stage a house if you aren't being paid to do so!)
- What your client can expect regarding the finished product
- When they can expect the finished product
- Your method of accepted pay
- The date by which your invoice must be paid
- How much additional pay you will bill if the payment is late
- Building a Real Estate Photography Business: Permits, Finances, and Insurance
- The Challenges of Real Estate Photography
- Building a Real Estate Photography Business: Making a Business Plan and Selecting a Business Structure
- Post-Processing Tips for Real Estate PhotographyPost-Processing Tips for Real Estate Photography
Real estate photography tips flood the internet, but I’ve found that most focus on tips for taking better photos. While those are certainly important, tips for the business side of things are critical as well.
Over the years, I have explored this topic in-depth, given that I have a background in real estate and I live in Southern California where the real estate market is typically bonkers.
That being the case, I thought I would share four real estate photography business tips that most real estate photographers overlook during their first few years in business.
Build a Standard Contract, Then Adjust As Needed
You need to create a contract that outlines:
Then, after you've built your standard contract, you need to adjust it for each job.
For example, I save my standard contract with each section I frequently change highlighted. This way, when I need to adjust an invoicing date, I know exactly where to do so and can find it in mere seconds.
Alternatively, you can use Excel or a program like Quickbooks to automate some aspects of your invoicing to speed up your billing workflow that much more.
Quick Tip: You might also explore photography-specific invoicing programs, like Shootproof. You can create templates to use over and over again, set up autopay with clients, set up payment plans, and all sorts of other time-saving tasks that help you spend less time billing and more time actually taking photos.
This is one of those things that is often forgotten about until it's too late. I understand you may not feel like you can afford to buy insurance so early on in your real estate photography career, but you definitely cannot afford to have a camera go down and need repairs or have all of your equipment stolen without having insurance.
Furthermore, you need to purchase liability insurance (particularly if you are shooting homes with a lot of expensive artwork, glassware, etc.).
Things can and will go wrong - it's just a fact of life. So be prepared by having yourself, your gear, and your business as a whole covered with the appropriate insurance policies.
Always Put Two Shooting Dates In Your Calendar
I find this is the best way to prepare for eventualities like bad weather or simply needing to return to the property at different times of the day to get the best light for each shot.
Likewise, there will be occasions when you show up to photograph a property and find that it hasn't been staged yet - or even cleaned.
Flexibility is the key with real estate photography because you have a lot of partners in the process - Mother Nature, the real estate agent, the homeowner, stagers, and so forth. With so many people involved in the process, and you being the last one in line, there will be delays. It's best to plan for that upfront!
This one goes without saying, but it's also one of the tips for real estate photographers.
The longer it takes you to get the photos processed and back in the hands of the real estate agent or the homeowner, the longer it will take them to complete the tasks they need to in order to get the home sold.
Likewise, if you take too long working on photos for one property, you'll have difficulty staying on schedule for the other properties on your list.
This isn't to say that you should speed through taking photos and processing them, but developing a workflow that streamlines the process will certainly help.
In my experience, there are two key areas in which you can save a lot of time (and money, for that matter).
First, don't bother with artificial lighting gear for interior photos.
Not only is lighting gear expensive, but it's also cumbersome to transport and set up, and will require a good deal of time to learn how to use it. Furthermore, you don't need it!
By bracketing your exposures (as shown in the video above) and merging them together, you can create well-exposed photos of interior spaces
This brings me to my next point...
Photo by Deagreez via iStock
Using software specifically designed for merging bracketed exposures will speed up your post-processing workflow and allow you to get the final images to your clients much faster.
As you can see here, it's a process that requires just a few simple steps to complete. There's even a batch feature you can utilize to speed up the process that much more.
The old cliche "time is money" is true, folks! But with these tips, you'll be able to produce the images you need faster, but without sacrificing quality.