Jennifer, from Madison, WI writes:
“Hi Brandon, I’ve been shooting real estate for less than a year and I feel lucky to already have a few regular clients. I feel that I’m improving (at least that’s what my clients tell me) but I’m thinking that I should be taking less time to shoot a house. I’m sorry if this has been asked before but I couldn’t find anything using the site search. I seem to shoot a lot of average sized houses, which for my market is about 2,000SF. How long should I be taking to shoot such a house?”
Hi Jennifer, I’m glad to hear that you’re doing so well, so early in your career. Don’t worry about asking a question that you think has already been answered. We have so many new real estate photographers coming to PFRE every month; I think it’s useful to re-do certain topics like this one every now and then.
About five years ago, when I started my coaching process with Tony Colangelo, I asked him the same question you’re asking now and I’ll share with you his answer to me: “How long do you want to be taking to shoot an average sized house?” This is such an important question because it will guide so many of your business decisions. For example, Tony told me that it took him about one-and-a-half hours, more or less, to shoot an average home. For him, though, that’s the amount of time that allowed him to shoot the types of photos that he wanted to shoot (and be known for).
For me though, I had (and still have) a business model based on high volumes (5-8 houses a day). There’s no way that I could spend 1.5 hours in each house and then go home and edit. So, I blended what I learned in coaching regarding composition and editing, with a way to light every scene that got me a hyper-efficient approach that would allow me to shoot the average sized house you mentioned in about 35-40 minutes, while still achieving high-quality results that I believe my competitors can't match. I’m also lucky that I live in a pretty small town, which means that I’m not spending a lot of travel time getting to the next shoot. I also outsource my editing (which gave me my life back!).
Jennifer, I’m not saying that my approach is better than those shooters who spend way more time at a shoot. Actually, I’d bet there are folks in our community who think that 40 minutes is a long time to shoot an average house! What I’m saying is that, for the good of your business (and your own well-being), there is way more to consider than just shoot time.
So, I’d be curious in finding out more from our community. I hope you’ll take a moment to comment. If you do, please jot down how long it takes you to shoot a 2,000SF house (and maybe include your experience level too, just so Jennifer has that reference point) and other variables that she might want to think about. Thanks!