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Commercial Real Estate Photography Pricing

Published: 10/03/2021

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.

Commercial Real Estate Photography Pricing

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.

How to Price Professional Real Estate Photos

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.

Aerial view of resort swimming pool
  • Creative costs: Covers the payment for hiring you as a real estate photographer. Remember to consider your time, energy, and expertise.
  • Logistics: Includes operational costs and everything from equipment, travel expenses, insurance, online materials, photo editing, and taxes.
  • Savings: It's not enough that the fee compensates or returns your cost of goods; it's equally important that you also earn enough money to save for a rainy day.

In order to come up with these three groups, you need to go deeper in identifying your expenses.

Calculate the Cost of Doing Business

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.

Identify Fixed Expenses

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.

  • Equipment: Camera body, lenses, drone, lighting, light stands, reflectors, memory cards, batteries. You would also need hardware such as a hard drive, CDs, flash drive, as well as a computer or laptop.
  • Subscription: Fees for a business permit, internet connection, Matterport, editing software, client management program, cloud storage, and association memberships.

Consider Overhead Costs

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.

  • Studio space: You need to set aside a budget if you are renting a space or studio. If you're using a home office, put a rental value to that space.
  • Utilities: Basic utilities such as electricity and water for your studio space.
  • Professional fees: If you have a team, you need to pay other photographers, assistants, or other professionals you employed. 

Real Estate Photography Pricing Packages

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.

Square Footage Packages

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.

Hourly Price Packages

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.

Day Rate Packages

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.

Exterior of office building

Building Type Packages

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.  

Image Use Packages

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:

  • How many copies does the client want to distribute?
  • What's the geographic area for the advertisement or publication? Is it local or international?
  • A lone agent, small business, or national corporation?
  • Does the client have processing requests?
  • How long does the client intend to use the photos? One time or for more than 5 years?

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.

Discounted Rate Packages

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:

  • Introductory Discount: Although this may not give you a quick return on investment, introductory discounts can help you score new clients and grow your portfolio in a short period. However, make sure that this is only available for a couple of days so that people would book immediately.
  • Special Offers: This kind of pricing aims to encourage clients to pay the total price. For example, a client can get free prints or extra 30-minute shooting time if they pay the rate fully on a specific day you set.
  • Referral Bonus: A referral bonus gives incentives to past or new clients who recommend you to other people. However, those people should complete a booking with you before you can give the referral bonus. The benefit is that you gain new clients while encouraging your old ones to hire you again. 

Considerations to Make for Pricing Real Estate Photography

These are several variables that can influence your commercial real estate photography pricing.

Experience

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.

Interior shot of restaurant

See where you fall in these experience categories, so that you can adjust your rates accordingly.

  • Hobbyist: People with little to no experience in the industry but with a passion for photography they want to practice. If you're a hobbyist, there's a chance that friends or family might ask you to shoot for a minimal amount or even for free, for the sake of experience or portfolio.
  • Beginners: Beginner real estate photographers have a basic understanding of the niche, including its fundamentals and market. If you're a beginner, you may have very little experience photographing real estate, maybe for small houses or as an assistant shooter.
  • Semi-professional: Semi-pro real estate photographers can charge the average fees. This level may not have the same skill set or credibility as professionals, although their rates are more budget-friendly.
  • Professional: Professional real estate photographers boast years of experience, training, and a well-curated portfolio that enable them to demand a higher rate. They also normally have high-end equipment for premium services.
  • Top-rated: Professionals who are highly known in the field, being the go-to photographers for agents, small businesses, and even corporations. Top-rated real estate photographers are sought after for their styles, so reaching this level allows you to set the highest rates acceptable.
  • Freelance: Freelancers can either be semi-pro or top-rated. However, they are more open to negotiations, which is why they can offer different types of packages or rates. 

Property Value

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.

  • Family Homes: Whether it's a brand new house or for reselling, owners and agents need visuals to sell family homes.
  • Retirement Communities: Photos that tour families in retirement neighborhoods, which usually include lodgings and social areas.
  • Commercial spaces: Can be anything like office spaces, resorts, hotels, spas, and restaurants. This type often needs exterior shots. This may also include a lot with multiple buildings, such as schools and hospitals.

Number 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.

Equipment

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.

Duration of the Shoot and Editing

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.

Premium Services

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.

  • Videography: Videos are particularly helpful for clients who can't do a site visit as this gives them a virtual tour of a property. Even homeowners appreciate video marketing's visual appeal, with about 73% of homeowners listing agents who use videos.
  • Aerial footage: Aerial shots capture the attention of buyers by giving them a fresh perspective as if they are soaring across the property and adjacent landscapes. However, you would need a drone for this, and since some areas require a remote pilot certificate, it's only reasonable to charge more for aerial clips.   
  • Panoramic Spotlights: A panoramic shot is an amazing way to show a 360-degree view of a property. You need to use a 360 camera for this, so you can start rates at $149.
  • Matterport: 3D modeling is essential in real estate as it lets viewers see a design's actual space and size. You have to use specialty software to render 3D models, and you can price it at $150, then increase it depending on the property's square feet.
  • Virtual staging: Like Matterport, virtual staging is time-consuming and requires expensive tools, so you can charge a hefty amount of $250 to $350 per shot.
  • Printing: Some agents use printed photos to display in their offices or create brochures. The price may depend on the kind of paper and printing process, although you can start with $3 for a 5x7 print.

Location and Driving Distance

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.

Office space interior shot

Post-Processing

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.

Delivery Time

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.

Season

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.

Taxes

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.

Sample Real Estate Photography Pricing Quotation

Here's a sample quotation applying the various factors for calculating rates.

  • 1,000-square meter commercial property: $120
  • Standard post-processing for high-resolution files: $250
  • Digital saving and downloading: $50
  • 20 images for one-year use on a website: $250 x 20 = $500
  • Transportation: $20
  • Overall Fee: $940.00

Note that this is just a ballpark figure, and you should adjust it according to your needs and working conditions.

How to Avoid Pricing Errors

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.

Photographer changing camera memory cards

Value Your Labor

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.

Don't Neglect Variable Expenses

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.

Consider the Cost of Digital Goods

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.

Be Confident

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.

Avoid Comparing to Others

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.

Learn to Negotiate

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.

Increase Rates by Percentage

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.

Woman using a laptop in a cafe

Online Pricing Calculators

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.

How Much Does a Real Estate Photographer Make?

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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