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My Formula for Pricing Real Estate Photography

July 19th, 2018

I recently ran across a post from over 10 years ago on pricing and noticed that it is one of the most popular posts on PFRE. I think it is still true 10 years later.

I get a bunch of questions from real estate photographers just starting out asking for a way to decide what to charge. I think I’ve come up with a formula. It is:

Home Shoot Price = Furnace Repair Price x 1.7

First of all, when I say basic shoot, I mean a photo shoot that produces 15 photos of an average size home (around 2000 to 2500 SF… one you can shoot in 1 hour). Added services and bigger homes are assumed to be add-ons.

Here’s how it works. You call your local furnace service company (preferably a company that is well established and been in business for a long while) and ask how much it will cost for them to come to give your furnace (or air conditioner if you live in a warmer state like Florida, etc.) its regular yearly service. This service typically consists of driving to your home and spending about 30 minutes cleaning and examining the heat exchanger, etc. My data is with gas furnaces, this could vary for oil, stream, or other types of heating or cooling systems. The idea is that furnace repair takes a similar level of technical expertise as a photographer… it’s technical, takes some special training, requires some specialized equipment, and it takes a trip to the home. But in the two cases I tested, it doesn’t take as long as shooting a home. I assume that to process a shoot it takes 1-hour post processing for each hour on site. This is what the 1.7 multiplier is for.

My theory is that a furnace company that’s been in business for a while has figured out exactly what it costs them to travel to any location in their coverage area and what it costs to pay a relatively technical person to do 30 minutes work. If they didn’t have this figured out correctly, they wouldn’t be in business. So they’ve done most of the work for you, all you have to do is apply a multiplier to adjust for the fact that you are going to spend 2 hours instead of 30 minutes.

I’ve done this calculation for my home in Snoqualmie, WA (Seattle area–15 minutes east of Issaquah) and my home in Salem, OR (1 hour south of Portland) and it comes out as follows:

Seattle area: FRP=$130 so HSP=$221 rounded to $220
Salem area: FRP=$60 so HSP=$102 rounded to $100

So what do you think? Does this formula work in your area?

Beware of the Licensing Agreements Provided to Realtors by NAR

July 18th, 2018

Teri in Denver recently said:

Many Denver area Realtors received an email today stating that they needed to have the copyright to their listing photos. This was sent by the National Association of Realtors and they were also sent a link to a form to send to their photographers so that they, the agents, would now own the copyright. The National Association of Realtors quoted the Zillow lawsuit as their reasoning. I wish I had access to the email and will try to get it from my realtors.

Yes, this type of thinking by NAR (National Association of Realtors) is not new. We’ve reported on it in this post back in January of 2016. The basic problem is that the NAR is an association focused on looking out for Realtors only. To solve this issue, there needs to be an association focused on looking out for Photographers that can work out a licensing agreement that works for Realtors, MLSs, and Photographers.

The process of forming an association of real estate photographers is actually underway. One of their first tasks is to create and negotiate a licensing agreement that works for all the parties involved in the real estate marketing process.

So hang in there and don’t give up your photo rights! A solution is on the way. We will report on results as soon as possible!

Shooting Real Estate Video with the Sony A6300 or A6500

July 17th, 2018

Ken in Georgia says:

These days, I’m getting more and more requests for video. I have a Nikon 5300 with a Sigma 10-20mm but I am not getting the video quality my clients expect. I have been looking at the Sony A6300 or A6500 but I don’t want to drop and a grand or so if I don’t have to. I have a Zhiyun Crane 2 that does struggle a bit with the 5300 weight. I have researched. Made decision matrices and basically gotten myself flustered. Should I take the Sony A6300 or another hardware route entirely?

As you’ve found, the Nikon D5300 will do video but it is 5-year-old technology and Nikon has never been known for its outstanding video. However, the Sony A6300 and A6500 shoot 6K video which is down-sampled to 4K. I think you and your clients would be much happier with if you moved up to at least the A6300.

The primary difference between the A6300 and A6500 is that the A6500 has 5 axis stabilization and will shoot faster still frames (for details see this video). Some would argue that for shooting interiors the A6500 is not essential. But the difference in cost is only $200.

As for a lens, I would recommend a Sony 10-18mm f/4.

Negotiating Agency Shooting Contracts

July 16th, 2018

Logan asks:

I am just transitioning from working exclusively for one small team of Realtors to starting my own business. I will be offering photos, videos, and a 3D tour/floor plan product. I have read others on this site talk about being a “preferred photographer” for a brokerage and I was hoping to learn more about that arrangement. I am fairly certain this isn’t something that is currently being done in my area so I was hoping to learn the logistics. I think with enough volume, I will be able to offer a good product at a fair price, and hopefully this will sway some agents to hire a professional who might otherwise take their own photographs. Any insights/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Generally, what being a preferred photographer for an office means is that you have a contract with a particular office to provide you with an agreed level of business in return for giving that office a per shoot discount.

A number of years ago, Thomas Grubba in Oakland and Mike Miriello in Virginia negotiated agency contracts with real estate offices in their area and did a post on what to consider when setting up such a relationship. Here is their advice: Continue Reading »

Are 360 Images and Walk-throughs a Successful Real Estate Marketing Product?

July 15th, 2018

In the past several years, we’ve had a number of discussions about 360 tours and 360 walk-throughs (not MatterPort tours) and some readers claim there is a demand in their market for this media while other readers say they have never been asked about 360 images.

Since creating 360 images and walk-throughs has been getting easier within the past couple of years, I think it would be useful for everyone to hear some specifics about the success of 360s. If you comment, please let us know: Continue Reading »

Tether Tools Case Air Tethering System – Alternative to CamRanger

July 13th, 2018

Rich Baum Announces an October Workshop in Auburn, CA

July 13th, 2018

Details are as follows:

  • When: October 16-17, 2018
  • Where: Auburn, CA–39 miles from Sacramento International Airport.
  • Cost: $875 for 2 full days including breakfast and lunch.
  • Early Bird Registration: $50 off until Sept 1, 2018
  • $100 off for all veterans.

If you have watched Rich Baum’s YouTube videos, you can now spend two full days with Rich for a hands-on photography workshop learning all the techniques he teaches in his videos.

 Click here for more details and to signup. Continue Reading »

Keeping the Neighbors Near a Drone Real Estate Shoot Happy

July 12th, 2018

Now that more and more people understand what drones are, what they do, and what they are capable of, the neighbors around the homes you photograph are becoming more sensitive about having a drone near their home. The video to the right shows a great example of someone who doesn’t like a drone near his home.

So you may want to think twice about using a drone to shoot elevated front exterior shots unless it is absolutely necessary. Of course, there are some properties where drones are essential for getting the best shots but for the majority of low-end properties that aren’t on acreage or near a waterfront, the old fashioned elevated shooting techniques like poles, giant tripods, and ladders may save aggravating the neighbors.

Another alternative would be to talk to all the neighbors around the property you are going to shoot and let them know when and where you are going to be flying to assure them your intention is not to photograph their home.

Has anyone had trouble with this kind of thing?

Many Agents Still Don’t Understand Photo Licensing

July 11th, 2018

Darren in California asks:

About two months ago, I photographed a relatively nice property for one of my top clients. Today, I saw a post on LinkedIn from another real estate agent in a completely separate brokerage posting one of my photos and advertising that he sold the property. I’ve never worked with this agent. I’m assuming my client lost the listing, the home owner obtained a copy of my photos, and gave them to the new agent, who then re-listed/sold the property while utilizing my images without consent. What is the recommended course of action here? It seems tacky to reach out and ask for compensation for using the images.

Continue Reading »

Beginners Guide to Finding Real Estate Photography Clients

July 10th, 2018

CustomersA real estate photographer’s success is highly dependent on building business relationships with listing agents in their market area.

There are very few businesses where you can make a list of names, phone numbers, and email addresses of all your potential customers, but you can in real estate photography since real estate agents are listed on their company website along with all their listings.

I recommend that every beginning real estate photographer create a spreadsheet that lists all the listing agents in all the major real estate offices in their area. Here’s how to do this: Continue Reading »

How to Do Basic Twilight Exterior Real Estate Shots

July 9th, 2018

WellsExteriorI think it is important to occasionally revisit the subject of twilight exterior shots because they are so important. From a listing agent or home seller’s point of view, they are hugely important because a twilight shot has the capability to add drama to any listing. If there’s a view involved, it gets even better. Twilight has the power to hide those mundane details and make any home look magnificent. My wife and I have gotten many listings just because a home seller saw a flyer or listing photo that had a twilight shot. The photo above brought us two listing customers this way.

Here’s a summary of how to do a basic exterior twilight shoot: Continue Reading »

First Steps for Getting Started in Real Estate Photography

July 8th, 2018

Jessica in California says:

I am a real estate agent and just started to shoot interior images for my listings. I am practicing ISO, exposure, and aperture. Any advise you can give me would be appreciated.

The first step when you are getting started is to understand the various approaches to interior photography and decide which approach you are going to learn to use. Continue Reading »

Major Changes Coming to Photography in the Next Couple of Months!

July 6th, 2018

The Norwegian Version of What Real Estate Agents Need to Know about Photography

July 6th, 2018

Thanks to Trine Bretteville at for translating, What Real Estate Agents Need to Know about Photography into Norwegian. With the addition of Norwegian, this free resource of real estate agents is now available in eight languages: English, Russian, German, Italian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Spanish, and Norwegian. Click here to download this e-book in any of these languages.

If you’re not familiar with this free, Creative Commons publication its purpose is to help educate agents on why photography is important for marketing real estate and what good real estate marketing photography looks like. Real estate photographers can give this PDF away on their websites to educate their clients. Hundreds of real estate photographers all over the world have been giving this PDF away.

In the last couple of years, we have added a one-page version and a postcard version of this information.

Federal Court Rules Copying Photos Found on the Internet Is Fair Use

July 5th, 2018

An article over at reports on an outrageous Virginia Federal Court decision that finding a photo on the Internet and using it without permission on a commercial website can be considered fair use.

In the United States, whether or not the use of copyrighted material without permission can be considered fair use (17 U.S. Code § 107) depends on four main factors: (1) the purpose and character of the use (including whether it’s “transformative” and commercial vs. non-commercial), (2) the nature of the copyrighted work, (3) how much of the work is used, and (4) how much the use affects the market and/or value of the work. The video above explains fair use and this decision in more detail.

Stephen Carlisle, the copyright officer of Nova Southeastern University, has written up a lengthy rebuttal of the opinion and writes that the ruling passed down on June 11th, 2018, is one that “has the potential to seriously erode the copyright protections afforded photographers.”

Very disappointing for decision photographers!