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How To Create Your Own Job In Real Estate Photography

Published: 13/10/2010
By: larry

In the last two years I've been amazed by how many people thank me for helping getting them started in creating a new job for themselves in real estate photography. I now spend a significant amount of time just answering questions about how to get started in real estate photography, what to charge and all the issues surrounding getting started. I enjoy it immensely and love hearing from people in this business all over the world. Just the other day I talked to Babs in Largos, Nigeria who is building a real estate photography business and website in Largos.

Helping people get started in real estate photography as independent photographers has become the primary focus of this blog, my eBooks and it is taking over my life! But I'm not complaining. I enjoy helping people get started.

In this era of 10+% unemployment having a job where you are in control of your own future and you are not going to get laid-off because some institution needs to cut it's budget is a huge survival advantage. On the other hand it can be pretty scary if you've spent your life working for "the man". If you work for yourself, your future is TOTALLY up to you. This observation is coming from someone who worked for "the man" (Boeing) for 35 years. As a technical manager I had to preside over several layoffs. And this experience had a lot to do with my leaving Boeing. After I left Boeing and joined my wife Levi in real estate it didn't take me long to realize I should never have waited 35 years to start working for myself.

For those thinking about becoming independent be careful. Any business takes a year or so to become established. Make sure you have a transition plan with income that will get you through that first year or so of start up. Real estate photography works in most areas but in some more rural areas it doesn't work as well as it does in large metro areas. Also take a look at my principles for starting a career in real estate photography. There is a huge number of people moving towards being independent and real estate photography is just one of the options.

10 comments on “How To Create Your Own Job In Real Estate Photography”

  1. I have to agree with Larry (again) in regards to this post. Starting your own real estate photography business is a nail biting experience. As an example, I will use this morning's events. Up until noon, I had only two listings this week, which is a pretty lousy week; and since I am a bit of a manic fellow, I did my usual thing and started questioning whether or not I had made the right choices this past year, all while devouring my cuticles.
    12:15 rolled around and by that time I had 5 shoots scheduled for the next three days. Such is the nature of the business, but for all of the ups and downs, I would not change a thing as it has undoubtedly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime. One comment I would like to add is that for those who opt to start a local area listing site, one of the godsends that I have found is the opportunity for related businesses to advertise on your site, providing a cash buffer against the 'feast and famine' cycle of the business that seems to exist, especially during the first year, which I am still in. It is comforting to know that should things be dry, I can still rely on $1200 worth of advertising dollars that come in from local related businesses. On top of this, viewers are exposed to business names they may require if they purchase a home in the area - it's a win win, and something that has really helped me develop awareness and credibility in the local community.

  2. I am sure there are many of us who can relate to Daniel's feelings. Since I have both an engineering and business management education, I'd like to share some of my feelings on this topic. I can concur that some days are fraught with angst over the decision to go down the road of professional photography for real estate. For that matter, any business owner worth their weight is constantly weighing their options. Here is why I like this business model; It's recession proof. When the housing market numbers are down, agents need us even more. The competition for listings increases, so agents need to show that they are using quality marketing. The inventory is up, so agent's need to differentiate their listing from the competition.

    I will be writing more about this because I have just shaved more than 1 hour off of each project. I achieved this by recently completing an automated back end system for my business. Perhaps, like many of you, I was frustrated with the lack of off the shelf tools that would make this business more efficient. I had a streaming service, database service, an FTP service, syndication service and other non-automated functions and services that did not integrate with each other. Because I felt so confident in this service business, I have spend 4 months completed a full custom business system for real estate photographers. I was at my limit off business capacity before getting to the income I projected. Now, without increasing prices, I can increase volume to get to my goals. I will be happy to share my experiences and tools. There are so many aspects to running a (successful) photography for real estate business than having gear and a business card.

    Let's keep the dialog going.


  3. I am trying to start my own real estate business right now. And I will be the only real estate photographer in my own town. The next closest real estate photographer is 2 hours away, and I want to get going now before everyone else is doing it. But I don't have much money and all the lights. I have a nikon D7000 and a SB600 flash with a 18mm to 200mm lens. Is that enough to start off with? I have a website and cards some work to show off.

  4. Your camera is a 16.2 mp with an 18-200 F stop 3.5 lowest setting which should be just fine. Landscape photography doesn't need a low aperture anyways since you want to get everything in focus. I'm not a Nikon myself, but same principles applies as I am a Canon user. I use a Canon T2i with a 18mm- 55mm kit lens and a Vivitar 13mm prime F2.8 for my shooting. My Canon though has Magic Lantern firmware which basically changes it into a $2000 camera with way more settings that I can fine tune. They don't offer much hacks with Nikon as most filmmakers use Canon. Your flash though you should always use a diffuser to help with softening your lighting. For interiors I would use a Gary Fong diffuser bowl or bring a tripod for longer exposure times.

  5. I wanna start real estate photography can it be done by NIKON L 810 basic camera ? and what should I charge for it in INDIAN RUPEES ? and what should I provide costumer a album of clicked pictures or all photos in CD ? please answer

  6. @Amardeep, The most important requirement is to shoot interiors you need a wide-angle lens (16 to 24mm effective) and ability to shoot brackets or trigger off-camera flashes.

    A Nikon L 810 has 22.5mm lens which is wide enough to shoot interiors, but doesn't have ability to shoot brackets (auto exposure bracketing) but you could do that manually if it was on a tripod.

    Most real estate photos are used online (not sure about that in India). I can't tell you what to charge. In the US $150/shoot it typical but you will need to find out what to charge by trial and error or see what others charge if there is competition in your area.

    Let me know how it goes, I'd be interested to hear if you are successful with real estate photography in India. You are the first in India that I've talked to.

  7. Hi Larry,

    I am a Real Estate Agent, I take my own pictures (of homes). Previously I had point and shoot camera (Sony), I am looking to buy a new camera. I don't know how to work with manual settings.
    Can you guide me what type of camera I should be looking (mainly to take Real estate pictures).
    Thank you very much for your time and advice,
    Jaishree Zilpelwar

  8. As a recent BSIT college grad, I'm looking for work and am having a difficult time finding something of interest, and is suitable to my needs in my immediate area. I have recently turned my attention toward Real Estate photography. Every scrap of literature I have read about the subject pretty much has prompted me to upgrade my old Canon EOS Rebel 300D 6.3mp camera to something that is at least 8mp or better. Since I liked the Rebel, I stuck with Canon and upgraded to the T3i about a month ago. The package/kit included a standard 18 - 55mm lens w/ stabilizer, and I wanted to have some additional lenses, so I also have a 75 -300mm, a fisheye lens, and a couple of macro lenses as well . After reading everyone else's comments, I just downloaded and installed the Magic Lantern firmware Ronnie mentioned above (ty Ronnie). I have tripods and a DSLR300 Speedlite Flash among other studio equipment. I would like to pick up a few extra lenses in the near future, but I digress...

    Transitioning from an enthusiast to a semi-pro freelance photographer seems like a big step. Although I have already gotten a few paying commercial photography gigs, modeling, etc... I'm virtually blind as to how to enter into either a Real Estate photography market or even possibly working with car dealerships to photograph vehicles. I am armed with about 20+ years of Photoshop and graphic design experience, which I believe is helpful, as is my basic web design/building skills. I was wondering if anyone had any helpful tips to share in what I should say or do or reveal to get my foot in the door? As it stands, I just grabbed a whole bunch of Real Estate Books, and plan to spend the rest of my evening revamping my resume and emailing each one of the agencies listed in the booklets cold.

    Thank you for your time, cheers!
    Chris Abbamondi~*