What Is the Gross Income Potential of an Independent Real Estate Photographer?

September 11th, 2017

In response to last week’s post, “What Is the Income Potential of an Independent Real Estate Photographer?” readers requested that I do a poll on gross income rather than net income, so here it is.

Readers also pointed out that there will be variations caused by the fact that some work “full time” and some work “part-time”. There are also variations due to geographic locations. A simple poll that I can do cannot deal with either of those variables. I claim that what is of interest are the percentages of a few of the upper-end of the poll results. That is, What is the upper-end potential if you are working full time in a good real estate market?

Update 9/14: I’ve added a chart that shows the poll results better. Just click the chart above to see it. Please take the poll below if you haven’t already done so.

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15 Responses to “What Is the Gross Income Potential of an Independent Real Estate Photographer?”

  • Completely limitless! It’s all what you put into it! Work hard and smart and you’ll make big money in this industry. It’s not super saturated especially if you can diversify what else you offer real estate agents. Not just photography but other marketing services as well and your margins will be higher.

  • Hey Larry,
    When the votes are in, this would be interesting to see on a bell curve – seems evenly spread at the moment…!?

  • @Aubrey, it’s not really limitless. At some point the sun goes down and you need to take a nap. There is also a finite number of homes being listed for sale in a given area. There is a lot of potential to earn a good income from RE work even if it’s just paying the regular bills so you can get from one higher profit job to the next without too much anxiety.

    @Larry, I think if you were to make a graph, you would also need to segregate those who are part-time from those that are full-time RE photographers. It still puts me a 50% gray area since I do a bunch of other things besides RE, but I would drop a few if I were bringing in more RE jobs.

  • The biggest variable here is how many hours you’re putting into it. It’s a great poll to have for reference but without knowing if someone is working 20 or 60 hours a week makes all the difference here. It’s good at least to see where the top end of the market it…. and it’s higher than I would have thought o_O

  • It’s a pretty interesting spread there. I can’t imagine the high end of someone’s company being $20K to 40K but I suppose if your market dictates those conditions and you work part time at it, sure you’d make less. The limiting factor I’ve run into is simply time and quality of life. Could I make more by working more? Absolutely. But there is a limit as to how many hours I’m willing to put in. Through the summer 12-16 hour days 5-6 days a week have been fairly standard. My goal now is to earn as much or more but work less.

  • I think the market changes that are taking place open up a window of income opportunity. I think one of the best opportunities was in a post last week concerning 360 tours. I studied Matterport and a few other start ups. I made the choice to do the Istaging Pro. It’s an alternative 360 tour. In their pro platform they include an attachment for the camera that changes the view to a 720 degree view (if that’s a real mathmatical equation), a rotator that will go on a tripod and some VR glasses that I will hand off to my 15 year old son. You don’t need special glasses to appreciate a 360 tour with hotspots. The key thing here is that the cost of entry for me was $ 300 and change not 5000.00. I purchases it because I am both a Realtor and Photographer. I’d like to grow my real estate business and the unique nature of these tours allow me (or anyone who uses them to put something special in front of a home seller) Back to the question… adding a 360 can allow a photographer to more than double/triple their gross income on the job.
    Additionally, some time back I think I recall a post about Zillow walk through videos. These too add opportunity to boost per job revenue.

  • I Staging has an affiliate link that I signed up for if anyone is interested in the program.


  • Hey guys,
    There is nothing better that being your own boss and working for yourself. I started Real Estate photography 9 years ago and not to be a downer here but there is one thing I have come to realize when it comes to income around this industry. Although photography is amazing and fun and very rewarding and I will probably never stop, it’s just not where the money is in this business. I think most of us here want to get paid but I don’t think we do it just for the money. You can make a living at it and it fulfills the need to be artistic and creative but all of my friends that are Realtors make so much more money doing way less it drives me crazy! I have at least 10 Realtor friends I can think of that work way less than I do and they all make between $300k and $600k a year, while I am literally starting to get Tennis elbow from lifting my d800 up 400 times a day and stay up all night editing photos!

  • One factor to keep in mind when looking at these numbers is that they do not reflect the demographics of the area you live in. Just like real estate, you could have a beautiful 3,000 sq ft home for around $300k, but in some areas you won’t even have enough for a down payment. Same with the median household income. Some areas $50k a year will be just fine, yet in some areas you will struggle. The fact is that you could be working just as hard as the person making double the money, yet be far better off because you cost of living is so much lower.

    A poll of full time vs part time would be informative and then of those in each category could be polled. In the part time, it would be nice to know the percentage of time they are spending on the work.

    Bottom line…. I think the polls show that it is possible to make a decent living…. depending where you live.

  • I really wish there was some poll that could be taken that actually meant something. First off I think most answers are not from history but from this boom year that is only 3/4 over. I am in Oregon and our market traditionally dies now till march. If I where to take my earnings for May till Sept your scale doesn’t go high enough, but if I build a scale based on ramp up and fall off based on the past 5 years then I make a good living with the expectation that it will still climb. But if I was in Sacramento my earnings would not look as good. San Francisco, well I would be a pauper. El Paso I would be above average and Houston I would be under water. On the same hand that San Francisco RE photographer may gross 2.5 time what I do but have a lower quality life style because of their cost of living.

    Also do we shoot pictures only, or offer other services. I offer a full menu so the only way I can determine my current and projected income is to take a years shoots and divide the gross earnings by the number of shoots. My average is $265.00. But I only charge $175.00 for the rmls images. My area won’t support a larger base figure, although some do charge more, but that’s their clients issue.

    We needa way to determine the cost of living index for where we live and work to determine if what we make is a good living or not. When I first started all I wanted to know was what you made. I have learned that what you make doesn’t matter because you may be in Hollywood or Palm Springs. You may make 200k a year and live in a $900,000.00 home but My $350,000.00 home may be nicer, better amenities and greater recreation opportunities then you have. My 35k Ford Taurus is probably nicer than your used Beemer, etc. Point being that my $120,000.00 a year income is greater than your $200,000.00 a year income when it comes to actual life style.

    Now if someone could actually create a poll that took cost of living index, property values, cost of gasoline per gallon, electricity etc. Oh ya, My Pinot Noir cost less here and is better because it originated here. Get the point?

  • “Now if someone could actually create a poll that took cost of living index, property values, cost of gasoline per gallon, electricity etc.”

    Bill, you probably want this then…

  • The gross income potential for a real estate photographer is $63,234.22 plus or minus $200,000.

  • Frankly, I am struggling to get work here in CT, the market is really poor, add to that I just returned from living overseas for 2 1/2 years so I need to reconnect and network all over again. Is there a resource that someone knows of where I can assess market research demographics for the state of Connecticut? This way I can decide which region of the state I should focus on, if any.
    Fortunately, I have an interest and experience in a couple of other genres that I can fall back on but I really do love architecture/interior work. Hopefully the economy will turn around here soon… it can’t get much worse. :-/

  • @Robin – To analyze any particular city or zip code for the need and demand for real estate photography look at and find the number of residential homes on the market above $300K. For example, a zip code that I know has a good market for real estate photographers is 98027 (Issaquah, WA). I used to live and work there. By looking at these listings you can also see what kind of photography listing agents a using to market homes. In Issaquah, virtually ALL listings have professional photography because sellers will not sign a listing agreement with a listing agent that doesn’t promise professional marketing photography.

  • Thank you Larry, how interesting, I will definitely check out Zillow, that makes so much sense.
    Coincidentally, I just saw this ad and am tempted but understand the disadvantages of working for these types of companies so will steer clear for now!

    Any others familiar with Capture, LLC?

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