Everything You Need to know Before Hiring a RE Photographer

Everything You Need to know Before Hiring a RE Photographer

Photography and the real estate business have been connected for over thirty-five years. One of the first real estate brochures featuring black and white photos of houses for sale appeared in 1984 in the Seattle market. The creation of this brochure gave birth to real estate photography. Since then, the tools available to photographers have become more sophisticated, including 3-D environment capturing and drone photography. 

Photographers bring value to real estate by capturing high-quality photos of prospective homes is a key part of the real estate selling process. This article focuses on answering commonly asked questions for those looking to enter the real estate photography business capturing static 2-D images and building an online portfolio of your own.  

What is Real Estate Photography?

Real estate photography is used to sell residential, commercial or industrial properties. Photographers may be tasked with capturing:

  • primary places of residence (apartments, houses)
  • secondary places of residence (cottages and summer homes)
  • retail businesses
  • restaurants
  • hospitality businesses and resorts
  • corporate offices
  • factories

While some real estate photographers span across all types of buildings, some prefer to specialize in residential, commercial or luxury. 

What Do Real Estate Photographers Do?

If you’ve ever watched an episode of the Netflix show Selling Sunset, you know that it takes a skilled team of realtors, designers, and photographers to sell properties and earn commissions. 

While its inclination toward flair is undeniable, real estate photography is also a demanding profession. Your success as a photographer depends on being able to blend art and business. Similar to other photography professions, you are not immune to last-minute bookings and tight timelines.

A real estate photographer must consider many factors when approaching a shoot. They include:

  • Employer direction
  • Your own creative vision
  • Staging and preparation
  • Lighting 
  • Technical considerations
  • Timelines
  • Budget
  • Post-editing 

Also, many photographers have to consider their needs as business owners, which includes managing their online real estate portfolio, attracting clients, and staying on top of photography invoices.

If this sounds like a career path that may interest you, keep reading to learn more about its specifics.

How Do You Get Into Real Estate Photography?

The most important part of getting into real estate photography is being able to photograph images of the properties you’re commissioned to shoot and consistently meet client demands. But that alone won’t be enough to land you in the business. 

To get your foot in the door, you need to have the right equipment, demonstrate skilled use of photography, and post-editing. In addition, personal communication skills are key to happy clients. 

The last hurdle to cross is gaining visibility in the industry. One way to accomplish this is with the help of a real estate portfolio that showcases your body of work. Your portfolio can be leveraged to attract clients and in networking circles, such as real estate trade shows.

For those just starting out, freelance real estate photographers can enlist family and friends to open their homes to experiment with taking real estate photographs. 

As with most specialized areas of photography, this is a highly competitive field. 

Do You Need To Go To School To Get Into Real Estate Photography?

As mentioned above, the most important part of real estate photography is the quality of the images you capture and your degree of skill with post-editing. This means that photography schooling is not mandatory in the industry. 

However, completing some form of schooling can give you an advantage in breaking into the industry. Photography school can help you build your credibility by offering clients peace of mind about your qualifications, which is especially important when you are dealing with real estate agents that may have decades of experience under their belt.

If you’re interested in attending a school for photography, many reputable online courses can be completed within a few months. If you’re looking for post-secondary education, there are programs offered with one-year certificates, two-year diplomas, or even four-year degrees majoring in photography. 

Who Hires Real Estate Photographers?

Listening to the client’s needs is one of the most important parts of the job. There are three primary types of clients who hire real estate photographers to help sell their properties, each with a unique vantage point on the role of photography in their needs.

  • Real estate agents: Real estate agents hire photographers to help them attract potential buyers and sell listings faster. Because they are likely to have industry experience, you may need to adapt to their preferences and timelines. Every real estate agent may have their own expectations, but all of them appreciate efficiency and professionalism when working with real estate photographers.
  • Developers: Developers hire real estate photographers to document the progress of building new developments and large-scale renovations.
  • Individual home sellers: Individual home sellers hire real estate photographers for property listings to help them attract potential buyers. Because selling a home is likely to happen a handful of times in a person’s lifetime, working with individual home sellers may require more guidance around topics like photography fees and what you’re delivering to them at the end of the contract.

No matter the client, each one wants to showcase their property in the best light. They are looking for a photographer’s expertise, efficiency and direction in getting there.

What is the Best Camera for Real Estate Photography?

Land a real estate photography contract isn’t easy. As a result, your portfolio needs to stand out from the competition. That’s where having the right camera comes in.

To compete in this field, considering buying or renting a DSLR camera with a wide-angle lens. This type of hardware gives you more options when it comes to post-editing, which is paramount to the quality of your final product. Both Nikon and Canon cameras are popular DSLR options that are reputable in the industry.

If you’re interested in offering drone photography in your suite of services, keep in mind that, this type of photography requires a large upfront investment. In addition, operating a drone requires the successful completion of an aeronautical knowledge exam. While a quality drone will run you anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, aerial shots are highly sought after for properties with large land coverage or outdoor amenities, and can greatly boost your income.


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