New Real Estate Photographers Starting Business

January 21st, 2008

I’m amazed by the number of new real estate photographers out there that are starting businesses. In the last two weeks I’ve talked to at least one a day. I don’t know whether the rate of real estate photographer business start-ups is increasing or this PFRE blog is becoming more effective at attracting them.There seem to be three different types of people coming into this business:

  1. Established photographers that are expanding into the real estate area.
  2. Advanced amateurs that realize they have something to offer Realtors.
  3. Realtors that are attracted to photography, understand the real estate business and are starting to do photography for other Realtors.

I think the fact that the real estate photography industry is healthy and growing is good for everyone. Competition means that you have to pay attention to who your competition is, what they are doing and do things to standout from the crowd if there is a crowd in your area.Don’t forget that a real estate photographer’s main competitor is the Realtor. You continually have do demonstrate that you can do a better job shooting a listing than the Realtor can. Here are some things you can do to standout from the competition:

  1. Give presentations to real estate offices showing Realtors what good photography looks like. Realtors are people oriented and love face-to-face marketing!
  2. Use professional/non-professional shots in your marketing to demonstrate the difference that professional photos can make.
  3. Include a slide show with your basic photo shoot service. A slide show really shows off good photography.
  4. Offer services that that take special equipment or skills like PAP, 360VR or property sites.

Realtors these days are searching for ways to stand out from the crowd. If you help them stand out, you’ll be successful!

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14 Responses to “New Real Estate Photographers Starting Business”

  • […] ReviewSaurus wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI’m amazed by the number of new real estate photographers out there that are starting businesses. In the last two weeks I’ve talked to at least one a day. I don’t know whether the rate of real estate photographer business start-ups is … […]

  • […] Real Estate Photographers Starting Business ReviewSaurus wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI’m amazed by the number of new […]

  • I think it has a lot to do with the PFRE site. I know that I have been able to move forward with my skills largely due to this site. I am a Type 2 “Advanced amateurs that realize I have something to offer a Realtor”. When I am stumped or need inspiration I start here. If I can not find it here the links provided usually take me somewhere that I can find what I am looking for. Thnx Larry!

  • It’s the site and the rise in the importance of RE photography as a whole. Once you set the price of the home and upload the photos… 99% of all the marketing you can do is pretty much done.

  • […] ReviewSaurus wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

  • I’m not in business yet, but I plan to be within a couple of years. I’m not yet advanced enough to confidently strike out on my own, so for now I’m keeping my gig as Marketing Director (looks better on a business card than it does on my paycheck) with a major firm in my town. I’ll use this time to get my technical chops up to snuff and my business plan (and marketing plan) ready.

    I believe the most important factor in the proliferation of real estate photographers (if you want to call it that) is the rise of the internet as the most important and cost-effective marketing venue for real estate. Estimates of those who do most of their house hunting on the internet range from 70 – 80%. If you don’t have great photos and presentation, especially for high-dollar properties, you’re going nowhere.

    Thanks to Larry for giving us a great resource for learning and sharing info – I rely on it!

  • Yes, real estate agents are finally waking up and realizing their “point and shoot” cameras are not enough if their property is listed at above $1 million. It takes a professional to make those expensive properties look like what “they really do look like” if you’ll allow me. And it is about time!

  • I think it’s also partially a realization by Realtors that there’s just too much inventory and too many realtors that are offering the same thing. Having a professional team that includes home stagers, photographers, home marketing gurus and website wizards helps a Realtor sell themselves better than the competition when it comes to winning listings and also maintain high turnover even in leaner markets.

    IMHO, what this means for the RE photographer who’s just starting out is:
    a) Look for allies: introduce yourself to others who provide similiar services to Realtors, specifically home stagers and website gurus who can pull together to help a realtor really sell a home.
    b) Provide a ‘one-stop’ service: RE agents don’t like spending time arranging schedules for multiple people, so if you can provide them with a single place that can arrange home staging, photography and producing marketing collateral (online & print), they’ll be happy.
    c) Target the newer Realtors: My guess is that the newer Realtors are probably more Internet-savvy and understand the power of the image as well as the value of their time. That’s not to say that more established Realtors can’t use their browser and/or put together a decent webpage…but newer realtors are also the ones who need to fight the hardest to win listings and are most likely to be receptive to new ways of working.

    Anyway, my 2 cents Canadian…YMMV.

  • […] want to amplify and expand on a comment that Justin Soles made on yesterdays post. There’s probably no more potentially symbiotic relationship as that […]

  • All great suggestions. I’d add another…
    Instead of handing your great photos over to an agent, post them to your own web site. They’ll link to it. (that’s a real good thing!) Create an “online buyers guide” (hub) where buyers can easily browse. You’ll quickly create traffic, agents will/should advertise for you in their ads. You’ll build a web property that will have lasting value and you’ll be able to sell advertising on your site, creating an more of a residual income that can more than cover your hosting costs. This has worked very well for us over the years. Interested? Keep in touch.

    /kelly thomas

  • About new RE photo business

    Below is an excerpt from Dave posted on January 25th (having to do with panoramic virtual tours)

    I am new and in no way as professional as any of you…But, I do think that the cheap VT’s are killing the quality and reputation of the VT’s of what i see from all of you…
    I shoot maybe 12 stills and 3 panos, give the realtor a website(the home address), a downloadable brochure business card cd’s(5) for $119.00 I brand the website to their companies colors so its an added value.. I ONLY go to the three closest counties for business, thats it..I have a gas guzzler and if i went all over, it would not be worth it.
    If they just want me to take stills, thats even easier, 10 stills for $59. i can have the shots up on a website/slideshow (not a personal website) in 20mins.

    How can so many people be thinking of getting into RE photography when someone is out there sells stills, panos, CDs and brochures for $119.00? Not only that,Dave will cover three counties. Egad, we’re doomed!

    There is no business model that can support this kind of pricing. We have all the national RE photo franchises here and they probably average $175.00. That is bad enough, but $119.00 is crazy even if one assumes the quality of the work is just as lack luster as the franchises. Of course, all of this changes if the business is off the record and Dave has a trust fund. Then the model likely works. For the rest of us…let’s hope Dave is overstating his value proposition or is in someone else’s market.

  • It’s funny. I came across this site because it was linked from Strobist. I consider myself an advanced amatuer looking to pick up a part time job for a little extra money to buy those lenses and other photo goodies I want. I’ll be sure to keep track of this site and maybe get some stuff posted if I can break into the RE photo business.

  • I currently have created a business centered on 360 tours, photos and custom websites geared directly towards real estate. I work for a real estate company in southern California. I helped create this business for the company i work for. They use it for agent recruitment and as a benefit for working for our company. We currently charge $79 for a 5 view tour, $55 for unlimited photos. One draw back is that I only have access to a pool of about 250 Realtors in my area because of the “company benefit” factor. To help my business grow, the company i work for is allowing me to go outside the company but charge more for my services. Because of this I am creating my own virtual tour application built with Symfony (PHP, MYSQL, Apache). My background was in IT management and I have played around with web programming quite a bit over the years before I got into this business. Always enjoyed filming and photography, just couldn’t afford the gear on my own. This gave me the opportunity.

    The biggest suggestion I can offer is to get a car that has the best gas mileage. Gas eats at your profit the most out of anything.

    This business can create so many referrals in so many ways with little work. If you have great customer service, sales, photography and computer skills you can really create a business that sells its self with a good package of services.

  • If you were just starting out and only had an SLR (Fuji S2 Pro)with a flash (SB-80DX), would you spend money on a wide angle lens (mine now is 24-120) or a strobe light or 2? Or, would you just go with what you’ve got and learn a little bit first? This site is GREAT and so helpful! Thanks for any and all comments!

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