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Real estate photography is a hard subject to give absolute numbers to cover, especially is this so with what to charge for commercial real estate photography services. There are so many variables to keep track of, including location, type of commercial property, type of client, and what services are offered.
So if you came here hoping to find a numerical table of prices, I apologize. However, I am going to give you some very concrete ideas that will enable you to make your own personal pricing guide for commercial real estate photography.
The basic focus today for photographers asking how much do real estate photographers make will be centered on ideas and methods for how to make money in real estate photography in your own business.
What Services Are Offered
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The basic services for commercial real estate photography are the same things offered in residential listings. The exterior main view, exterior points of interest, primary interior areas (from several angles), and amenities or special interest areas. These would normally be made using the tried and true bracket and merge exposure technique.
When figuring out what to charge for commercial real estate photography based on these common images, you may need to consider how many points of interest, rooms, and extras there are to photograph.
A modest home may have 6 to 10 rooms, each with about 2 or 3 views, exterior main and supplemental views, and extras such as a swimming pool, furnished basement, and so on. A commercial property, such as an office space, retail store, or factory, might have dozens of different rooms and areas requiring separate photos.
It’s all those extras that start to add up when considering what to charge. Some other variables considering rooms and areas might include an overhead view of the sales floor or factory floor from upper offices or a ceiling height walkway (which are common in these larger properties) and difficult to access spaces such as secure areas.
Extra services requested for calculating what to charge for commercial real estate photography would likely include specialty photography such as drone photography, twilight beauty shots, 360 degree still images, and 360 degree interactive spherical panoramic tours. Specialty photography requires specialty equipment and techniques, all of which are worthy of higher compensation.
How to Set Up Pricing
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Now we get down to business (ha!) for deciding what to charge for commercial real estate photography.
Options for pricing models are a price per picture, a set package fee with a certain number of pictures and extra charge for extra pics (you might have several levels of packages with certain add ons and numbers of images), charging by the hour, charging by the day, or charging by the finished job as a flat rate.
All of these pricing options have pros and cons, but I find that offering various different packages goes over very well with realty firms for commercial properties and with management firms for commercial properties.
As an example of package real estate photography pricing, offering a set fee for showing up, taking and processing the images, and a set number of images is common. Packages may vary by how many images are delivered, and add ons would include those specialty services such as drone photography, twilight images, and panoramic tours.
Costs of Being In Business In Commercial Real Estate Photography
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Things you will need to discover for deciding what to charge for commercial real estate photography are the real costs of working in this fantastic field.
If you offer those special extra services such as drone views or panoramas, the gear necessary is not cheap. High quality drones, fisheye lenses, panoramic mounts (motorized or manual), and heavy duty tripods bump up your base equipment costs.
Staying onsite at the property to capture evening and morning twilight images may incur an overnight stay if you’re traveling to the site. Will that room be comped by the property, realtor, or firm or will you need to consider it as part of your costs?
The companies may also be requiring a higher level of liability insurance and sometimes may specify certain conditions or riders. All of this needs to be added in, both generally and as extra costs for jobs with specific conditions.
A specialty niche of commercial real estate photography, industrial photography, will add even more stringent requirements of insurance and personal safety equipment.
You should also include travel costs, your own nutritional needs, safety equipment, and a consideration of what your time is worth to you. Remember, all the post-processing work adds extra time for you to factor into your calculations.
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The time spent on property and afterwards really starts to add up when you’re shooting larger properties and offering more images and specialty services. In order to maximize your profitability while remaining competitively priced, workflow simplification is desirable.
A major workflow simplification that works for most real estate photography from small residential homes to large office complexes and manufacturing centers is the bracket and merge (HDR) exposure technique.
This process covers taking the images and post-processing afterwards. Here is a YouTube video explaining the method.
Another workflow simplification that is extremely important when shooting large properties with lots of extras is to keep it all in order. A good shot list, prearranged with whoever is in charge of hiring you, is essential. A dry erase board or some other other method of separating groups of shots from each other is also vital.
A good method to keep track of each separate area is to shoot blank or black frames between each grouping and use the dry erase board to label each group. This will greatly speed up and simplify your work during all of the computer work of sorting and labeling in addition to the post-processing for HDR, panoramas, and interactive tours.
It’s a Niche Business
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Commercial real estate photography is a fascinating niche of real estate work. It is a great way to make a living or add to your range of services. It has some different challenges, but the rewards, financially and otherwise, are well worth the extra effort, time, and skill.