- Build a Foundation of Photography Knowledge
- Set Yourself (and Your Clients) Up For Success
- Allocate Time for Marketing
- Don’t Give Too Many Freebies
- Get Paid in a Timely Fashion
- How to Take Gorgeous Interior Real Estate Photos
- Critical Real Estate Photography Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make
photo by EricVegavia iStock
If you ask me, there are not enough business tips for real estate photographers readily available online. I’ve found in my personal experience that real estate photographers are especially cutthroat due to the difficulty in entering the industry.
But, I’ve always believed that you get what you give and we should all welcome beginners to the real estate photography game, especially in a real estate boom like our country is currently dealing with. There’s plenty of jobs to go around.
With much effort, I’ve decided on my five most important business tips for real estate photographers that you can read all about below.
Table of Contents:
Build a Foundation of Photography Knowledge
photo by Poike via iStock
Marketing yourself in any industry is difficult, but marketing yourself in an art-forward industry is impossible without art knowledge to begin with.
There are conventions, networking groups and industry-leader discussions for almost every industry, yet the photography industry is lacking these basic tools for photographers looking to break into real estate photography.
It seems that business tips for real estate photographers are few and far between and most real estate photographers had to figure out how to do it themselves.
Thankfully, I recently came across a site that truly helps you build the basics of real estate photography
Real Estate Photographer Pro is an excellent resource for photographers of all skill levels. It helps photographers in the real estate industry connect with other real estate photography professionals, learn how to edit their photos with the perfect templates (that you can directly download from the site), and learn all of the basics from traditional classroom-like videos.
In fact, this site even hosts weekly Q & A’s with a group of real estate photographers who make upwards of $1 million a year. This type of mentorship is something that is not easy to come by in such a dog-eat-dog industry, and it’s also something I still appreciate today, years into my career.
It’s important to remember that you won’t get very far in the industry without direct connections - the type of direct connections built directly into this course offering.
Set Yourself (and Your Clients) Up For Success
photo by kate_sept2004 via iStock
We all know clients can be… particular. But, these clients are especially particular when they are high-powered realtors.
And by “particular” I mean trying to get whatever they want out of you. Out of all of my real estate photography business tips, I think this is the most pertinent: you need to stand your ground and set clear goals and clear expectations.
This way you won’t disappoint your clients, but you also won’t disappoint your family by constantly working overtime for someone who is too demanding.
photo by Kerkez via iStock
Before you even form your business, you should be thinking about the exact terms you want to set in your contract.
Contracts are the most important way for you to communicate the reality of your work to your clients, whether they’ve never worked with a real estate photographer before or whether they have hundreds of times.
You should also think of the contract as more of a process than a piece of legalese that is “one and done.” While the legalese may save you from a court date in the future, you should also have all of the information in your contract broken down into easy-to-understand text that you can send in an email.
For example, important parts of the contract you may want to reiterate include: your net terms (when you need to be paid by), your fees for additional photos, editing work, and last minute requests, and exactly what types of photos and how many of them your client can expect by the end of their transaction.
This will save you - and your client - a lot of frustration down the road. If there are any real estate photography tips you need to be worried about, it’s this one.
Allocate Time for Marketing
Focal Point Photography LLC has an incredible video about viral marketing on Facebook, and while this information is useful it isn’t as useful as making sure you set aside time each week for marketing.
I oftentimes find that real estate photographers forget to market because they’re so caught up in all of the different aspects of running a business. Once your real estate photography career is established enough to keep you busy full time, the tendency is to stop networking, to stop social media marketing and to stop tracking your marketing efforts at all.
photo by Chainarong Prasertthai via iStock
But, while you may have a full schedule, you could be shooting for bigger and better clients, but you’ll never get there without a concerted marketing effort.
Concerted marketing means not only having a marketing tactic, but tracking this tactic through the weeks to determine what platforms have worked for you and which have not.
Real estate photography marketing can be intimidating for newcomers, though, which is another specialization that Real Estate Photographer Pro can help you with. They’ve done it before, so you don’t have to.
Don’t Give Too Many Freebies
photo by Zerborvia iStock
The next time I see someone include freebies in their list of business tips for real estate photographers, I may lose it.
Freebies devalue our work. They devalue the industry, and they devalue you as an individual. You spent time learning your art, just like a nurse or a professor, and need to be compensated fairly, no matter if the market is oversaturated or not.
One frustrating thing that I see given away for free all the time is additional editing work.
This video by Pro EDU Photography Tutorials shows you how retouchers price their work, so that you can base your own editing work off of it.
Clients will always ask you if you could just edit one last thing out of a photo, or if you could do something last minute before they hand the photos off tomorrow morning, and when you give an inch they might take a mile.
Appreciate your work for what it is - work - and price it accordingly.
Related to this issue of editing work is this - don’t make it so hard on yourself.
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
You often hear in other genres of photography that you should strive to get the shot right in-camera, that way the editing process is more about enhancing the beauty that’s already there and less about trying to correct mistakes. The same holds true for real estate photography.
One of the most common challenges for real estate photographers is overcoming dynamic range problems - in other words, photographing rooms that are a little dark, but have super bright windows.
When you try to photograph a room like this in a single shot, you’ll find that the camera either exposes for the bright windows, thereby leaving the room underexposed, or exposes for the room, thereby leaving the window overexposed.
The solution to this problem is simple, though - bracket your exposures and merge them together!
The video above offers a nice demonstration of how bracketing works. It literally takes a few seconds to set up, but it will save you all kinds of time on the back end of things.
Instead of having one frame, you’ll have multiple shots of the room, each at different exposure levels. Then, you merge those shots together for a final image that is well-exposed throughout.
Not only does this get you a better-looking image, but it also saves you tons of time - you don’t have to try to bring down the highlights or bring up the shadows to see the detail in the room. It’s there already!
Get Paid in a Timely Fashion
Photo by Matthew Kwong on Unsplash
For some reason, I never see payment clearly discussed in lists about business tips for real estate photographers...and it is frustrating.
For one, I don’t understand why so many real estate photographers are stuck in the past. It is 2020. You should have at least 5 ways for your clients to pay you for your work.
Use technology to your advantage so that your net 60 terms can come down to a net 30 or, hopefully, net 15.
I personally use PayPal, Venmo, Square, Google Pay and Zelle’s QuickPay to receive payments.
And if you are one of the many real estate photographers who have yet to join the technology revolution, there’s no need to fret because Sleeklens did a video covering the two most popular: PayPal and Square.
It takes about 5 minutes to set up an account on both of these sites and your client will never be upset with more options.
Alright, that’s all for our business tips for real estate photographers. Take this advice, build a better business, and enjoy seeing your business flourish!