I heard something interesting today that I hadn't heard of before but thought maybe you knew: Someone was telling me that photographers who shoot real estate in California need a real estate license in order to do it legally. Is this true? I can't seem to find any information on it but he claims he's a real estate broker.
After doing a little research and talking to some long time real estate photographers in California, I can find no evidence that suggest you need a real estate license to shoot real estate in California.
The probable cause for confusion is that when photographers are licensed Realtors it allows them access to listed properties without being accompanied by a Realtor. This is a big advantage and some real estate offices may be looking for photographers that are licensed Realtors. So yes, it's a rule in most MLSs that photographers cannot go in a property unaccompanied to shoot the property so the custom all over the US is that the licensed Realtor (listing agent) comes to the property during the shoot and accompanies the photographer.
My experience in Oregon and Washington is that Realtors routinely ignore and work around this rule and a long time real estate photographer in California tells me that:
My understanding has always been that, officially, no one is supposed to be in a listing unless they’re accompanied by a licensed agent. EVERYONE ignores that. I’ve never met an agent who brought it up (but this is why they use those blue “Supra” lockboxes. And it’s why they get around the rule by having another lockbox that just uses a combination - e.g. a “contractor” lockbox.
So my conclusion is that: No, you don't need a real estate license to shoot listed properties in California but legally you need to be accompanied by a licensed Realtor to be legal. But expect to have your clients completely ignore this MLS rule.
What do you California shooters think?