I recently had an interesting discussion with a real estate photographer in the Huntington Beach, California area who said she “wasn’t making any money” and needed to raise her prices. She said she was averaging 55 shoots a month and getting $150-$200 per shoot. And although she wasn’t the lowest priced photographer in her area she was among the lower priced real estate photographers. Her concern was that whenever she talked about raising her prices her clients complained and she was afraid of losing her best clients that were giving her 15 to 30 shoots a year. Here are some things that I pointed out to her:
Grossing in the neighborhood of $100,000 a year isn’t all that bad so one first step would be to review all her expenses and make sure she was operating as efficiently as possible. She outsources her post processing ($.40/image) and has a contract employee ($45-$65/shoot) that helps her with shoots.
Another obvious solution would be to raise the level of clients she is marketing to and raise the price she is charging. While in the short term this may loose some of her clients that wouldn’t pay the higher prices, in the long term her income will increase. This also may require researching who the upper-end agents are in her area and what they need and expect. It would also require overcoming her fear of losing old clients.
A question that comes to mind in a discussion like this is what should one expect to make as a real estate photographer? While there are likely geographic variations, there are bound to be some natural limits. To get at this question I did this poll about 7 of years ago. The old poll was a little fuzzy since it didn’t say “Net income”. So I thought it would be interesting to do a new poll (the one to the right) for this post that clearly polled Net annual income.