Real Estate Photography Is One Of The Top Freelance Flexible Jobs

July 27th, 2016

Sign in the sky for 'Your New Career' , concept image for employment related themes.The poll we did back in early June on how many shoots PFRE readers do each year suggested that a large proportion (around 40% or more) of real estate photographers are doing real estate photography on a part-time basis.

While this doesn’t surprise me, a couple of business articles I ran across recently explains why this is more clearly:

  1. This article in Business Insider points out that freelance photography (which includes real estate photography) is a top paying freelance flex job.
  2. This article at lists some interesting stats about the freelance “Gig economy”. This article concludes that “millions of people around the globe are opting for greater independence in their work lives. As a result, they are joining the growing movement that is the gig economy. Advances in technology have made it easier to accomplish than ever before.”

Over the years I’ve sort of figured this out from talking to people that were getting started in real estate photography. When I started this blog, at first it amazed me how much interest there was in real estate photography. But the more I understand this business the better sense it makes.

My conclusion is: that real estate photography has tremendous potential as a freelance profession where you can decide what volume of work you want. And you can do it geographically almost any place you want. These days it’s more than just 20-year-olds that can use a job like this! Everyone can use this kind of job to fill-in where some other job is not bringing in all the dollars you need. Real estate photography is a very flexible business.


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8 Responses to “Real Estate Photography Is One Of The Top Freelance Flexible Jobs”

  • In 1990 I started with Virtual Imaging Corporation to Provide iPIX Photography Services in the Monterey Peninsula market. My only competitors were Circle Pix and and a Local Real Estate Magazine. I started my own RE photography business in 1991. Since then there are more then 32 real estate photographers and growing in the same market. I have seen many of them come and go. I was full time for until the RE Market Crash and the invention of better cameras and iPhones. To continue working I had to buy better equipment, change to off camera flash, take one or two ambient with flash layers. That was working until HDR hit the market a few years ago. To do better I switched to HDR with a few flash layers and continued to working. Now it is the image quality that keeps you in business.

  • An error in my time line. I started working for Virtual Imaging Corp around 1998/99 and full time for myself in 2000/2001. VIC was also contracted to do the single front image for our local MLS. I hated doing those but love the virtual tour part. I taught myself html and how to build virtual tours and started Monterey County Virtual Tours. Then many nationwide virtual tour companies started to open. I had to compete with new photographer new virtual tour providers and continue getting better at both. I have continued my business by using TourBuzz Virtual Tours switching to how I take images. A good friend Wayne Capili has helped by giving me advice on what equipment and how to improve my images .

  • Was a perfect situation when my daughter was born. As a Nurse, my wife works 3 days per week, I had the other 4. Having power over my schedule and time saved us from expensive day care. Now my daughter is going to be a first grader. Still a great situation. Can pick up my daughter in the afternoon when my wife is working.

  • While this is great for people who are just looking for the part time flexible gig I feel that it makes it more difficult for the people like myself who wants to turn my PT “gig” into a full time career. My business increases 20-30% YOY (minimum) but it’s going to take a whole heck of a lot more to now cover what I’m making shooting real-estate and cover what my full-time job is providing.

    Year 1: 30 listings, Year 2: 75 listings, Year 3: 170, Year 4: 150 (YTD and hopefully 200-220 by year end)

    I’ll need to almost triple that to cover the FT job and what I’m doing now. Of course I won’t able to make what I’m making right out of the gate but when do you know it’s finally “that” time to jump ship and pursue RE photography FT?

  • Freelancing and diversification are key in the modern economy. My original profession, architecture, was basically freelancing and my stubborn focus on a single income source almost caused homelessness and starvation in the recession of ’79, ’80 (exaggerating a bit!). I was able to quickly diversify – becoming a programmer – blending the two activities through the rest of the ’80s, and riding the “dot-com” boom through the ’90s. Photography always provided a bit of extra income through it all – starting in the ’60s, my nature photography in Oregon helped pay my college tuition.

    So, now (the past 16 years), I’m even more diversified, doing real estate (with wife), RE photography for many other agents, doing freelance programming, and web site design and development. Each has its ups and downs. By having four income sources, I’ve been able to ride the economic waves – and never get bored.

  • @Dan,

    It all depends upon how much you like to photograph real estate and how much you hate your existing job. I quit (well, retired, since I was vested in the program) what many would call a decent job as an IT manager to start a business shooting real estate. I took this leap in 2011. Anyone remember 2011? Things weren’t going well in the RE market. Or the RE photography market, as the downturn shrunk the available properties to photograph and the amount of realtors to shoot for.

    I was no longer enjoying my job. It bordered on hate, and I was doing stupid stuff to harpoon myself because I was under a lot of stress, and I believe, subconsciously hoping they would fire me. I knew I had to do something and I was already shooting a few properties here and there for my wife and other agents in her office. I had saved a bit of money and I retired from the military so I have a small pension and health care. I knew it would be a pay cut, but I really felt the stress would kill me.

    Here I am five years later making more than I did in my corporate job. I work harder, but it is so much better because I am no longer in a position where everyone complains to me. Just the opposite. I can give myself a pay raise every couple of years as my productivity and skill increases – and guaranteed more than the 1 – 1.5% they were giving us in the place I worked.

    If you are already shooting 200 – 220 homes in your spare time, just think what you can get done full time. I only had a few customers, one that didn’t get me any money when I started. Now I am booked two to three weeks in advance almost all year. I still shoot for my wife and her friends. And about 30 other realtors.

    Good luck!

  • @Reed – Great story! Thanks!

  • @Reed

    Well, I can say with 100% certainty that I hate my job 90% of days. The 10% that I enjoy is the time that I’m really slow and get to read up my anything photography related! I’m in mortgage banking and have been at my bank for approx. 6 years now. The first 3 years were great and I thought I had found my niche. The three years following have been dreadful. While working at the bank, I go outside 3-4 times a day and just stand in the parking lot and wonder how happy I would be if I were out shooting properties at 1 in the afternoon on a Tuesday instead of after work and on my lunch hour. I see guys who have been working the “office job” for 30 years and take their lunch breaks sitting in lawn chairs in the parking lot eating their PB&J’s. If you’re happy with that life by all means, kudos. For me, I think I’d rather go broke then spend my free time in a parking lot.

    I appreciate the feedback on the quantity of work. I do think that I COULD do it. I guess it’s just a scary transition for someone who has always had a guaranteed paycheck… summer/winter/spring and fall. I think the only thing that gets me through my job daily is continuing to work on a business plan to go FT. I started to create a new website, adjust pricing, buy additional gear for additional services (i.e. video), etc. I don’t think it would be wise to jump into REP FT during the winter months so as of right now I think early Spring is my get out time. Hopefully. I truly admire the guys who take that leap and succeed.

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