How Much Should You Charge For Real Estate Agent Portraits?

May 6th, 2015

AgentPortraitsChris in New Jersey asks:

I was wondering if you ever did any headshots for the agents you work with? I want to start including that in hopes it will boost business. But I am completely lost as far as what to charge. I was looking around at other people in my area that are doing it, and they are changing anywhere from $250 to over $500 for 3 or 6 pictures. I feel like no agents will pay this much. I was thinking of charging something like $100 and that would be for 3 shots, then maybe add another $100 for each change of clothes (if requested). I just wanted your opinion if this sounds good, if thats too much or too little?

I’ve shot my wife’s agent portrait and shot free portraits for other agents in our office but I’ve never done agent portraits as a product. Real estate agents really do need a lot of help with using good judgement in choosing a portrait for their marketing. It’s hilarious to just look at agent portraits.

I have talked to many real estate photographers that go to a real estate office weekly meeting and just shoot free portraits to meet agents. A well done portrait is something all agents need so yes, this is a good product to have on your list of products but I’m not sure what the right price is.

For those of you that shoot agent portraits, what do you think is the right price?

Share this

23 Responses to “How Much Should You Charge For Real Estate Agent Portraits?”

  • I would avoid a photo displaying at all costs even though “everybody does it.” People photos are too subject to judgement to be of value.
    There’s a couple of lawyers who advertise and have life size photos of themselves on the side of the public busses. While it may be boosting their egos to see their face all over town. Little do they realize how utterly slimey and haggard they look. Another one has a billboard and he’s wearing a big blue, trust me I’m religious, yamaka on the front of his head rather than where it belongs. He looks ridiculous.

    From my personal experience, I don’t like it when someone displays a photo of himself in a suit and tie then shows up in jeans. Or she looks 30 in the photo and a mummy appears at my door. I just feel like I’ve been deceived. I think a headshot is risky and is a double edged sword.

    What can work well IMO is a caricature or a photo transformed into something artistic.

  • Correction: I meant to say, “I would avoid a photo displaying your face at all costs even though “everybody does it.”

    To stand out do something few people do. Like a well done caricature.

  • I have actually just finished building my studio specifically for headshot and portraits. Shooting great headshots is a nice extension of RE business, as it helps you build rapport with your clients. And I haven’t met an agent yet that thinks they can take their own, great headshot.

    I just added the headshot section to my site, and its still under construction (isn’t every website)? Anyway, I plan to open my business with a $149 package that will include a 90 minute shoot, up to 3 retouched photos, multiple outfits changes. I have shot about 20 agents in the studio so far, and have gotten great feedback.

    I will be offering “2 for 1” coupons to agents I want to meet. I thought a ton about this, mulling over the “do it free” option, but ultimately I decided that agents who get free headshots won’t respect my RE rate structure. The two for one special gives them professional work for a great price, so everybody wins. Plus, I get to meet more people.

    One thing to note — shooting headshots is NOT shooting real estate. Headshots need to be lit — there really isn’t any way around it. So you need technique. Headshots aren’t moody — they are bright, evenly lit, and need to communicate personality. The hardest thing about shooting a good headshot is remembering that its your job to elicit genuine emotion and the best look for your subject. You can’t just say “smile” — it doesn’t work. You need a good 10-15 minutes to get what they will need, minimum, on average.

    Right now, Peter Hurley is the “Scott Hargis” of headshots — I highly recommend his site for a start down the headshot path. Peterhurley.com.

  • There is a photographer specializing in agent portraits that advertises on the local real estate association web site that he will be in town and shooting portraits about 2x year. If I remember right, he charges about $25/portrait. It seems low, but he makes it up in volume just like school portraits.

  • Unless you have some training in formal portraiture don’t do them. Shooting portraits requires special skills and equipment that a lot of photographers don’t possess. Posing, lighting that flatters a person’s face, retouching, backgrounds, etc. If you’ve never done portraits before you could actually end up hurting your business by producing bad headshots. I know a lot of commercial photographers who couldn’t do a good headshot or portrait if their life depended on it. I have done thousands of portraits (I used to work for two high school portrait studios) in my career as well as many corporate executive portraits in my own business and, trust me, they are not easy to do and do correctly. Portraits take a special set of skills. If you really want to do them learn how to do them well first.

  • I agree with Larry Fields: “Unless you have some training in formal portraiture don’t do them.”

  • I charge $125. I shoot 10-15 poses, they get to choose one via a proofing page on my website. Additional poses are $50 each. I then return a retouched file via dropbox. I do it all on location on 3 different backgrounds. Environmental portraiture is charged differently based on the concept. There are minimum charges based on location. Local minimum 3 agents. Travel further? Minimum 6 agents.

  • While learning to shoot portraits and headshots is a different skill from shooting real estate, the need for “formal training” is overplayed. This is a community of “self taught pros” — how could it not be? To my knowledge, there are no schools to teach “formal” real estate photography. So, its safe to assume that most people shooting pro real estate are “self teachable”.

    In this regard, portraits and headshots are MUCH easier to learn than RE, simply because of the huge volume of information in the marketplace. Larry and Ruben are right, in the sense that you have to learn a new skill set. From a technical standpoint, if you own enough flashes to light a kitchen, you own all the gear you need to light a face.

    But you need to invest in learning a new process — a totally new way of thinking. You’ll need to learn to light differently, photoshop differently, compose differently. But between fstoppers, Kelby One, lynda, and books on amazon — its not that hard. The amount of information in the marketplace that can teach you how to do this well is a thousand times more plentiful than info on RE shooting. You just need time, patience, a practice model, and a small investment.

    People and places I have found helpful:

    Joe McNally — Speedlight master, with books on amazon, and multiple videos at Kelby One. Hotshoe Diaries is worth every penny

    Strobist. com — “Retired” blogger David Hobby wrote the book on using small flash for big pics. All his stuff is archived at his site

    Zach Arias — Edgy atlanta shooter does a “one light” series. Think its $75 for a 10 hour video on all things you can do with one small flash. Well presented and easy to follow.

    Kelley One — Tons of videos on straightforward portraiture

    Peter Hurley – The king of the headshot. He has a great tutorial on Kelby One, a video series at Fstoppers, some stuff on youtube, and an instructional website at headshotcrew.com. I personally have been learning his style, and was able to build a setup like his (he shoots kinoflos) for about $200 at home depot. He is the master at working with people — how to get the winning look.

    If you had the curiosity to become a good RE shooter — shooting portraits is well within your grasp. Remember too that its the rare photographer who can light both a room AND a face. If you can do both in the same frame, you have a skill that people will pay a LOT of money for.

  • Angel Aaron; are you serious? I’m not sure how much time you spend around RE agents but if I offered caricatures of agents I would have… well let’s see, ZERO business. They’re professionals (well, most) and should be treated as such. Would you hand out a business card with a caricature on it?

  • Great advice Tyler Raymond! Great advice!

  • @Tyler Raymond – Thanks for the great advice! I agree, don’t do this unless you learn how to do it but there are plenty of resources out there that will help you learn how. And in the long run it makes good sense to not do it for free but rather give discounts to agents you want to meet.

  • While I see Larry Fields point, there are several inexpensive software plugins or stand-alone products that help immensely. Use a light hand with the software. It’s easy to get carried away and change someone’s look completely. Removing minor imperfections and small skin adjustments is usually all it takes. (I have a couple ‘mouse-roll-over’ examples on my site)
    Hardware:
    Having the ability to shoot with a flash “off camera” is the least you should have for an outdoors shoot. Inside shoots requires more, such as lights, light stands, & backdrops. (I use white & dyed bed sheets)

    As for what I charge.
    I charge $150 with a $50 discount if done at an appointment for a listing shoot. I also offer the same $50 discount (per person for three or more) if done at the same time.
    On site, I’ll have them pick the top five or six images they like best and work on those in post. If I know I’ll be shooting a portrait I bring my laptop to show them the images on site.
    When finished with post, they get to pick three and will own those images. I don’t think anyone wants to deal with copyright issues when using photos of themselves. But that’s just me.

    Practice on a friend or family member first. (going online to see which head-tilts or other poses look best will help) You’ll get an eye for it quickly.

    When you do a paid shoot, remember there’s safety in numbers. After you get everything dialed in to your camera, shoot as many as you can, in as many various poses as you can. Remember the agents time is important too so don’t spend all day shooting.

  • You don’t need formal training to do headshots (or anything else in photography, for that matter). But just like shooting interiors, it’s a specific skill set and you need to practice and get good at it, or you’re going to have problems. I’ve always thought of a headshot as the photographer’s equivalent of a scrambled egg. This is something every photographer needs to be able to cough up, when it’s requested, even if we’re not particularly “into” it. Likewise, even the Executive Chef at the White House needs to be able to do a scrambled egg, if that’s what the Pres wants for breakfast.

    Someone up above said they do a 90-minute shoot — yikes. No one, and I mean NO ONE, is happy about being in front of the camera for an hour and a half! Nor should it take you that long to get a good set of shots. People are busy; plus, being in front of the camera is really uncomfortable. Try it out sometime! Brevity is priceless, when it comes to portraiture.

  • I’m the 90 minute guy — and I think Scott’s comment highlights the differences between RE and Portraiture.

    If you are lining up agents outside a conference room for a quick couple of snaps, no, you don’t need 90 minutes. But comparing that to a dedicated headshot session is like comparing a home shot with an iPhone with what Scott does. Polar opposites.

    People are people. Rooms are rooms. People have emotions, looks, feelings. Rooms don’t. Rooms sit there patiently waiting for you to finish. They don’t look different depending on how you talk to them, treat them, whether its too cold or too warm, whether it is thirsty, whether it just put its mom in the hospital. Rooms just …… sit there.

    People don’t. Good portrait work is 10% technical and 90% relationship. How are you going to coax the best possible expression out of your client?

    So… back to Scott’s point….. does all that have to take 90 minutes?

    The answer is no. But the client should feel like they can if THEY want. I’ve done a headshot session in 20 minutes. I had one take two hours. Both ended with pictures the client LOVED. If brevity is the goal at a portrait session, you aren’t making portraits, your taking school photos.

    Think about it in these terms. If you come to my studio for a session, here is how we will work.

    * Intros and settling in (outfits and makeup in the changing area) 5 minutes
    * Intro to the process — what we are going to do 5 minutes
    * Outfit selection / change — 10 minutes
    * Initial image set (first 30 shots or so) — 10 minutes
    * Initial review (sit down at the monitor and look at whats happening) — 10 minutes
    * Outfit change / shoot part II — 15 minutes
    * Review — 10 minutes

    Thats just over an hour. If you are doing this right, the client is having fun, you are having fun, and you are getting great frames. They may tap out, say they are happy, and move on. They may have done that at 30 minutes. If they do — awesome! If they want to keep going, we do. The point of the exercise is that they feel like they are getting a special experience designed to make them look their best.

    If they don’t want that — if they want to run in, outfit at the ready, makeup on, and ready to go — lets do it. If all they want to take is 10 minutes, fine. But they more often than not won’t be happy. Just like someone listing a $1,000,000 home in Arkansas wouldn’t be happy with my pictures if they only gave me 20 minutes to shoot their entire home.

  • I have been asking around for headshot prices in my area as I am in need of one for some of my social media profiles. Settling on this one place that is charging $85 for one outfit multiple poses you pick the best. They have good reviews on a few of the review sites.

    At our office every so often they will call a photographer in to do a couple of headshots for different agents. For those they usually charge $50 per agent.

  • Re. Tyler, the discussion here is about straightforward business headshots, for which, normally, only one basic look is needed, with maybe a few variations of background if you are doing an environmental headshot. For this kind of headshot, I think 90 minutes is excessive, and I don’t think most clients for this kind of thing want to pay for a 90 minute session. For multiple looks with lots of variations, that may be a different matter. As far as getting people to relax, I think that if you can’t achieve that within a half hour, either you are not good at it or the subject is one who will probably never really get there.

    As for pricing, who can answer? It depends upon your market and how good and experienced you are. Many portrait photographers post their rates online, at least for the basic stuff, so it is not hard to get at least some sense of the rates that are typical in your area.

  • RE: David, I wouldn’t have anyone get caught up in “90 minutes”. If I said “up to 90 minutes” we probably could have saved the internet lots of 1’s and 0’s.

    I think its all a matter of perspective. You know what a headshot photographer would say if I told them I once shot a kitchen with six flashes?

    “Wow, that’s excessive.”

    To summarize my position: I am willing to spend 90 minutes to get a picture of a client that they will LOVE. That they want on a yard sign, flyer, grocery cart, park bench (Phil Dunphy, you rock!), web site, business card, billboard, etc, etc. If I can get you that shot in 10 minutes, awesome. If not, we will keep going until we do. Simple.

  • Just quickly I charge between $195 and $250 for in studio or on location in their office for portraiture. Includes between 2-3 retouched images. All proofing done via DropBox. They get a high res images 8×10 @300 dpi and mirror iamges of 950pxl optimized for the web. On location in their offices its $195 per person when they have more than two people. More for those that want sunset images at the ocean. I live in Southern California. Why? Because its my night time, more traffic, more gear to bring down to the beach or overlook. Like a light pack and softbox. I agree with Scott Hargis. 90 mins. is allot of time. I also find the men are much easier on the back end. They are less picky. Women tend to be allot more critical of how they look. I always suggest that women get their hair blown out and use a professional makeup artist. Also have a one sheet that clues in my clients on what to wear and what wardrobe to bring with them to their shoot. Funny Story: I recently had a RE agent that I photographed her exec. portrait for her. Knowing that she’d be very critical of her own image, (from conversations I’ve had with her) I over shot it and gave her 100 images to chose from via DropBox. My norm is 30 images to chose from. She didn’t like any of them. She’s 50+ years old and of course I used a pro lighting set up. She came to me b/c I had photographed one of her colleague’s executive portraits and she loved how they looked. Same lighting set up some retouching. She then proceeded to send me images of the model Christie Brinkley when she was 27 years old from a Cover Girl Advert. Really? So Christie is half the RE’s age. And the lighting set up for Christie’s is totally flat lit. Don’t know what people are expecting sometimes, but I assure you we discussed in length my style of exec. portraits and the look that she loved from her colleagues session. Let’s face it there is a reason that Ms. Brinkley got the Cover Girl contract. For her looks. Showed the images of the finial retouched portraits to my wife who always sides with my clients and she said: “She’s crazy…these images look amazing of her. She’s obviously way to critical of her self.” I’m obviously not going to get her listings. And just so you know, I’ve been doing portraits of 15 years and this is the 1st time any client has not been thrilled with their exec. portraits. Here’s a sample of my work: http://marcweisberg.com/2015/02/orange-county-executive-portraits-headshots, http://marcweisberg.com/2013/10/executive-portraits-professional-headshots-irvine-photographer, http://marcweisberg.com/2014/05/orange-county-headshots-executive-portraits.

  • Hi everyone,
    I’ve been following for years and love the info you all provide, thank you!

    This is a great thread and Headshots are a valuable add on. It may be the service that gets you into an agency if their current photographer can’t do this. Just like RE, it’s always better than a cell phone.

    Great Headshots are needed for RE, Facebook, Linkedin etc. Each look may need to be a bit more or less formal IMO. Approachable, friendly, sincere, etc.

    I shot my first practice RE session with a strobe last week, but I’ve been shooting portraits for a while. I asked the agent if he wanted some Headshots and his eyes lit up.

    My Sigma 10-20 is too in your face for portraits and I had a 75-300 lens in my bag. Switched to that, sat him against a plain wall with ambient light and shot. Simple, fast and a very happy camper. Virtually nothing to do in post.

    In fairness I’ve shot my wife in our studio setting with lights and various lenses, so have some practice. She brought up that the camera not being too in your face is important. For a lady I would use Portrait Pro and do a very small amount of tweaking.

    I’ll go the $150 with a $50 discount at a listing, or for 3 agents in an office route.

  • Here’s my 2 cents:
    Business opportunity.
    I like to look at the big picture.
    It is asked often here, how do I get more realtor customers?
    I believe that being able to deliver headshot service , as well as interiors, would be a good thing, in the big picture.

    Truth be told, I love everything photography.

    It dawned on me, early on, when starting my RE photo biz ,that doing headshots , was a winning proposition. I consider it a door opener. Opportunity provider!

    I found that I was just as happy , shooting lovely folks, with a smile on their face, as I was a beautiful home property.

    It takes practice..which I do and did, as often as I can. It helps fill in times when I don’t have a RE shoot.
    Don’t do it until you are confident, and be as professional in the way you handle head shots sessions, as you are in interiors.

    Rainy season..perfect..shoot indoors!!Yea!

    My experience …I’m shooting a property for an agent..the owner is also there. Conversation starts..guess what..her husband is a lawyer..could use a new headshot..GREAT..the next week…I’m all over it.
    Then, I’m presenting at one of the local networking groups. They liked my real estate images…but were more interested in the portrait demo i was giving.
    Next thing I get handed a card,..a week later, I’m shooting his headshot. An engineer, on location,at a large ongoing construction job, at a local university. Followed by photographing some of his completed work in the building.
    Don’t laugh…making a generator in the basement, or an A/C condensor on the roof , look sexy is hard work!
    That company has been a good client for 3 years. 🙂

    Another scenario that happens quite often:
    Take an awesome head shot of an agent..they blast it on Social Media..bam! Where did you get that..who did it???..Phone rings!

    I think of it as another marketing tool. Agent headshot, expose my photo business, to other agents, and other folks in need of a good photo.
    Name recognition!

    As mentioned earlier, there are tons of good sites for self education. Practice on your kids or significant other.
    Practice on a dummy..I did 😉

    I can honestly say that , the fact that I offer head shots, as well as my real estate photography, has gotten me more exposure, more marketing fuel, and more income.

    It has helped me get in the door, get noticed, and get more business.
    Shooting places and people I would never have imagined.
    Getting to shoot , restaurant owners, shoot at the new prisons facility :0…at Medical schools..All because I took an agents headshot, which got a conversation started, that …well,you get the point.

    Fees…that is a variable, that is hard to nail down.
    Left coast , right coast, mid america…100 buck one place is 2 or 3 hundred somewhere else.
    Study your market, study posing, study technique , and go for it.

    I’m not Peter Hurley, and don’t claim to be..but I’m trying!
    I’m not Scott Hargis., and don’t claim to be….but I’m trying!
    Cheers,
    Ken
    .

  • The right price for agent headshots depends upon your skill level, the agent and the market.

    Excellent skills with upper tier agents in Chicago might be upwards of $500.

    Good skills with mid tier agents in Indianapolis might be $250.

    Okay skills with average agents in Detriot might be $50.

    That’s a pretty big spread so charge what you’re worth.

  • Portrait work is a blast if you like working with people. If you’re not a people person (or don’t want to take the time to learn portrait work), it is probably a good idea to avoid this work ~ even just for occasional headshot. If you think a realtor is picky about how you frame a living room, wait until you take their portrait! You will impress your real estate client by referring to a good portrait photographer.

    Headshots and portrait work in general can be a great add on to real estate work; most of the professionals you meet need good portrait work once in a while. We have done headshots for realtors, doctors and staff, actors at the local theater, attornies, police and fire, etc. We don’t shoot events, weddings, families or any big productions; those are specialties that are far different from portrait work!

    Typically a headshot should take 5 to 10 minutes per person and the end product is for a business card, website, brochure etc. A portrait session that involves clothing changes and many lighting setups is not what the typical headshot client is looking for.

    In a typical headshot job, there are no changes of clothing, only one lighting setup with just a few poses (a simple 3 light setup – key, fill and backdrop, sometimes a hair light.) Most people getting headshots want to be in and out, fast. We shoot tethered to a laptop so the clients can quickly review and accept the shots on site. We don’t let clients proof after the shoot; we deliver a few poses but those are finals.

    We charge $200 and up for one headshot session with digital only delivery. But don’t stop at one headshot! Many times in any given office more than one person needs a headshot, and we offer a break in per person price for an office of people. If there are 4 or more people who need a headshot in the office, charge $50 to $100 per person; heck once the lighting is setup you can run them through fairly quickly. You can shoot 10 or more headshots in 1 hour once your lighting is setup.

    We have a portable backdrop and use our real estate flashes and shoot through umbrellas and stands; the new YN560’s with the YN 560 TX zone controller are great for real estate and portrait work! We do have a few alien bees and large photek softlighter umbrellas we use once in a while, and a collection of inexpensive grids, hoods, flags etc. None of this equipment is expensive.

    The key is learn the lighting before hand and practice often (my family runs away when they see the studio lighting coming out; I have friends in local theater groups and often shoot headshots just for practice, trying different lighting setups.) Key; have your lighting setup and tested before you bring a client in.

    One of the best books on this subject is Steve Stint Digital Portrait Photography. I have a dog eared copy with many sticky notes inside.

    http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Portrait-Photography-Business-Style/dp/1600593356/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1431065300&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+sint+digital+portrait+photography

    http://steveloosphotography.com/lifestyleportfolio

  • I think it really depends on the nature of ones relationship with ones client. Furthermore, one may want to treat it as a loss-leader and include it with part of their services. Given that this is not ones revenue stream, I think it’s acceptable to do that on occasion. Requests for head-shots are infrequent. It the demand would increase beyond my comfort threshold, then I would begin to bill for that time. One never knows, where the expression of ones diversified photography skills will lead. One may receive referrals, or alternative projects, which one has not considered.

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply