Pricing your work can be difficult, as low prices may not make your business profitable, and pricing too high can drive away clients. To make sure you earn more while providing the best services, we're going to discuss commercial real estate photography pricing, including types of packages and pricing considerations.
On average, commercial real estate photography pricing may cost anywhere between a basic rate of $250 to over $15,000 for a complex day shoot. This may change depending on factors such as type of property, location, add-ons, post-production, licensing, and season.
Since prices may also vary depending on your style, experience, and complexity of the shoot, we're going to go deeper into how you can calculate your rates.
The best way to develop your rates is to calculate how much you need to earn to cover your possible expenses, professional fees, and return on investment. These three would serve as a starting point, which you can adjust depending on the client's needs.
In order to come up with these three groups, you need to go deeper in identifying your expenses.
The cost of doing business could be a direct cost, like investing in equipment, or an indirect cost, such as personnel payment. Regardless, the total cost should cover the non-reimbursable expenses of doing business and your desired salary.
The fixed expenses are your payables that don't change weekly, monthly, or yearly. These are some of the fixed costs you would need to consider in your pricing.
Overhead costs are other payables not associated with materials, labor, or production. You can calculate this by adding your yearly expenses then dividing the total by your projected amount of bookings for the year.
There were about 6 million homes sold in America in 2019, and with home sales steadily increasing since 2011, this gives you a lot of job opportunities to try the various pricing packages for real estate photography.
A property's square footage typically influences the pricing, as this provides a holistic rate, whether you would shoot an unfurnished or fully-furnished space.
For instance, you can choose a starting price of $60 per 500 square meters. If the client has a bigger space, like 4,000 square feet, then you can give a package rate of around $450 to $480.
Another option is to set the number of images per square foot. For example, charge anywhere between $275 to $400 for 20 photos of a 2,000-square feet property.
The main benefit of choosing hourly rates is ensuring you only need to shoot within the agreed timeframe. Likewise, you can receive overtime pay should the client requests additional work.
Real estate photographers can charge low rates of around $85 to $120 per hour and anywhere between $165 to $200 per hour on the higher end.
A day rate is a standard pricing system that enables you to offer a complete package including your time shooting as well as payment for editing and other factors.
This pricing method doesn't mean that a client would exhaust your whole day for a shoot; it only means that you would put a monetary value on an entire day's worth of work. Thus, this type of pricing is ideal if you tend to accept rush work or same-day turnover.
To avoid confusing rates and prevent clients from not booking you, consider giving an all-in package rate that covers everything from the photographer's fee, production, and other logistical matters. This is suitable for large-scale properties as you might need to shoot different kinds of interiors, several floors, and vast exteriors.
For instance, an all-in package for a mid-rise office building can cost about $2,500, whereas a small retail property may cost $1,500. The price difference comes from the idea that, unlike mid-rise buildings, a small retail property may lack amenities, neighborhood, and general level of perceived value.
Another example would be photographing a multiple-building property. Given the larger size and quality of spaces, you might need to spend at least 2 shooting days. Hence, you can ask for at least $4000 for pre-planning, scouting, full-day shoots, editing, and turnover.
Considering the usage license is crucial for real estate photographers because even if the client only needs a few photos, they can benefit and even earn from those shots in the long run.
Photographers mainly own the intellectual property over the images, although you can come up with a license agreement to provide usage rights for your clients. The goal is to ensure that you get paid accordingly, especially if clients want you to turn over the rights. Ask yourself the following:
With this kind of model, you can calculate the total fee based on factors such as type of media, licensing period, and the territory where the client will use the images. For example, if a client wants to use a picture 5 times, there will be a fee for that frequency.
Another way to offer rates is to create discounted packages that can entice clients. You can also offer discounted rates to loyal customers or those who will hire you for a long-term project.
Nearly two-thirds of consumers say discounts seal the deal for them, even if they are still pondering on buying products or availing services. With that said, take note of these points when considering discounts for commercial real estate photography pricing:
These are several variables that can influence your commercial real estate photography pricing.
Your working experience greatly influences how much you can charge as a real estate photographer. This is why a professional photographer with 10-year experience can charge higher for a few images than someone with less than a year of experience.
See where you fall in these experience categories, so that you can adjust your rates accordingly.
The property value typically depends on the lot, furnishing, neighborhood, and nearby areas, which is why about 58% of home buyers consider neighborhood quality as a key deciding factor.
Some properties may have several, different features, while others can be plain or have minimal characteristics. These are the usual types of real estate properties that usually need their own style of photographs.
Your rates should also consider the number of photos. The more images the client needs, the higher the rate. However, pricing per picture may also look quite expensive to some customers.
Setting a price per photo is a better option when clients want rushed output. For example, you can charge $120 for 12 images within 24 hours of the shoot.
Besides basic photography gear such as camera bodies and lenses, you would need special equipment to provide premium services. Some tools require one-time payment, while others need monthly subscription payments. Likewise, there are times where you even have to upgrade or buy something you don't have to provide the requirements.
Similar to other kinds of photography, a real estate shoot consumes your time the moment you communicate with the client until you deliver the final output.
However, you would spend most of your time taking pictures and post-processing, so make sure that the overall fee can compensate for the time you allot for work.
The kind of additional services you provide largely influences your rates. Some clients would only need basic photos, while others would demand premium services. Even when you set hourly rates or packages, your final pricing may change depending on the following add-ons.
Pricing also varies depending on where you live. For instance, a New Jersey-based real estate photographer may charge anywhere between $250 to $1,000. In contrast, a photographer from Utah can price about $130 for images only because New Jersey has a 29.5% higher consumer price than Utah.
However, that doesn't mean that you need to undersell yourself just because you live in a small town. You can still create a reasonable rate by considering your driving distance to avoid imposing gasoline and transportation fees.
Suppose you need to drive 16 miles from your home to the property, and you set a distance of $1.50 per mile, then that means you can add about $24 to the overall fee.
Editing is the part that clients don't see, yet it could be one of the most time-consuming parts of the process if there are complex demands. It's vital that you find a balance between quantity and quality when setting the cost.
Basic editing can include applying Lightroom presets, adjusting white balance, increasing brightness, fixing lens distortion, and color-grading. You can charge higher for complex editing like replacing skies, HDR, and adding or removing people in the frame.
Aside from Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, you may need to use Matterport for 3D models and Canva for your branding. You can show 75 to 100 as sample shots where clients can choose from before deciding which ones to edit.
The turnover time depends on the quantity and complexity of the project. The average delivery time for a real estate project is about 2-3 working days. When the work includes uploading galleries online or delivering printouts, all of these could take a week.
Therefore, you also need to take into account the resources you need to deliver everything. This may include client management software for online galleries, Cloud storage, as well as CD or flash drive storing soft copies.
It's common for realtors to request rush or same-day delivery. With the extra pressure and time limitations, this is an opportunity to get a rush payment of $25 to $50 per image. Besides, setting a rush fee prevents demanding clients from requesting to get the photos earlier than agreed upon.
While the real estate industry doesn't stop, it does have seasonal trends. For instance, the months of May to August see a 40% home-selling peak in annual sales volume, as opposed to the slow months of November to February.
Thus, homeowners and agents would be spending February to April to work on their marketing materials, and this is your chance to increase prices. On the other hand, you can also give discounts on such seasons to get as many projects as possible.
However, note that the season can also impact your efficiency as snowy and icy months may affect your travel. You can have more free time during winter, although you may get swamped in the summer, fall, or spring.
This is a tricky part as you need to check local laws to ensure you can legally charge and pay sales tax. For instance, Texas and Alabama now require taxes on the purchase of digital pictures. You may need to hire an accountant to assist you in filing and paying the annual tax return.
Here's a sample quotation applying the various factors for calculating rates.
Note that this is just a ballpark figure, and you should adjust it according to your needs and working conditions.
Developing a price list can be overwhelming, even with some guidance. Here are final tips to remember so that you can come up with prices that can benefit your finances.
Some professional photographers don't follow the typical office hours. A part-timer may only spend 20 hours a week, while a full-time real estate photographer can work longer hours.
Aside from the actual time you worked, don't forget that clients are also paying you for the time you spent honing your skills and doing the job in the least amount of time. Your time covers everything from the booking, photo session, post-production, and turnover.
Some commercial real estate photographers feel afraid of adding variable expenses because they feel like it's something that clients don't need to pay. However, paying for things like transportation or accommodation from your own pocket may cause you to lose money.
You may think that you're saving more by delivering photos digitally. While this is partly true, remember that your digital applications may also result in a significant expenditure in the long run.
Don't assume that low rates automatically guarantee a steady stream of bookings and income. There are photographers who tend to offer low rates, thinking that no one will hire them if they charge higher.
While this may work for beginners or during your first few shoots, doing it all the time would prevent you from actually getting the payment you deserve or your business to succeed.
As long as you're sure that you can provide what the clients are looking for, be confident with your prices, and people will see that your prices are suitable for your quality of work.
It's normal to check the rates of other real estate photographers, as this can also give you an idea of how they develop and market their packages. However, keep in mind that they may have different variables, so their basis may not apply to your situation.
It's estimated that there are 2 million active American real estate agents. Even with lots of competitors, this number gives you several opportunities to work with different kinds of people in the real estate market.
Some customers will try to lowball you, whether in the form of exposure or free access to a property you want to photograph. While it may sound tempting at first, politely decline the offer and try to negotiate a middle ground.
Furthermore, there's no one-size-fits-all quotation for all commercial real estate properties, so make sure that your rates are different for individuals, small businesses, and large corporations.
You can't avoid rising costs of goods and inflation, so anticipate that you need to change and increase rates eventually. When raising prices, start by checking your annual sales report, then see if you need to increase rates by at least 3% or more.
Modifying rates once a year is reasonable, although doing it more than 3 times a year may confuse customers, making you look inconsistent and unprofessional.
As a photographer, you may want to spend more time focusing on the creative aspect of the business. Alas, having your own business also means facing numbers and calculations.
Fortunately, there are online calculators that can help you compute rates and pricing packages. Even if you don't exactly follow the suggested amount, you can use it as a ballpark figure when developing prices. Start with some of these free and paid pricing calculators.
Industry-wide, photographers can earn an hourly wage of $21.85, and an annual income of $36,280 to $79,440. However, the compensation may still depend on how you price your work, which is why it's essential that you know how to set rates properly.
Moreover, the income would depend on other factors such as your skills, experience, and even education.
Developing commercial real estate photography pricing is a crucial component of your business as it's one of the things that can attract clients and land jobs. With these steps and tips, you can create a price list that can benefit both you and your clients.