October 6th, 2013
I just got an email from a long time PFRE reader Susanne Hayek of the Pasadena, CA area. Susanne told me she is approaching her 10th anniversary of being in the real estate/Architectural photography business. Congratulations Susanne!
I’m approaching my ten year anniversary in business and wanting to thank you for the large role you have had in my success. I still look at your website several times a week and still always find useful information and ways to grow there.
When I started shooting real estate I shot in Program mode with one flash in the hot shoe. Thanks to what I learned on your site I moved through stages of expertise adding flashes, aperture priority, exposure blending, etc. Now I shoot in manual (hurray, I finally get it!). I shoot three bracketed exposures, all with remote flash, one next to the camera and one in any adjoining visible space. It’s efficient and fast, and I am out of most homes in 60-90 minutes.
This business has allowed my husband to complete a career change moving from being a personal trainer to being a clinical psychologist (licensed marriage and family therapist). An expensive and time consuming endeavor…
I want to add that the most important components of my business are service and relationships. My competition increases yearly. Some of my competitors are outstanding photographers so more and more, relationships and service are the key to keeping my clients.
It’s great hearing about successes like Susanne’s, and I know that being in the business 10 years isn’t all that unusual. There are a lot of you out there that have been in this business for 10 years and are very successful. But I think it is useful for the many people just starting out in business to hear success stories like Susanne’s and understand what is possible.
The part I’d like to point out to those of you just starting out is that in this business is that it’s possible to support a family in Southern California like Susanne has done as an independent real estate photographer. In these times where getting and keeping a substantial job is getting more and more challenging, if you are in business in a significant enough market area (like Southern California or similar locations) you can make a solid living as a real estate photographer!
The other important aspect of operating your own business is the part about being independent, if you choose to be. I know becoming independent can be a bit scary but if you are willing to work hard it has huge advantages. Note that, Susanne achieved the success she describes during and coming out of one of the biggest US real estate down markets in history.