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How to Get into Real Estate Photography

Published: 02/08/2021

The real estate market continues to thrive as people continuously look for properties. This also opens opportunities for you to enter the real estate photography business. To be profitable, we'll walk you through all you need to know how to get into real estate photography successfully. 

How to Get into Real Estate Photography

You need to invest in the proper equipment, learn the correct shooting techniques, and practice post-processing to get into real estate photography. It also helps to take real estate photography classes, build a portfolio, and use online marketing to produce professional real estate images and earn money. 

It can be difficult at first, especially since becoming a real estate photographer means handling all the creative, technical, legal, and logistical aspects of a business. Let's get started on the real estate photography tips you’ll need to jumpstart your career.

Kitchen interior with white countertops and wooden floors

Settle Legal Matters

Becoming a real estate photographer is straightforward. However, the first step is to open a photography business according to your state’s laws

Then, sit down and write out a brief business plan to help manage your new photography career.

Invest in the Proper Real Estate Photography Gear

Realtors and agents need high-quality real estate photos to give buyers a great first impression of a property. A professional real estate photographer takes photos of the inside and outside of the home and features around the neighborhood. 

Before you earn money from real estate photography, it's vital to have the right set of photography tools for you to produce quality photos. 

When you have the tools you need, your job will be that much simpler. With the right equipment, you may even find you spend less time post-processing photos.

Close up shot of camera lens

Cameras

The camera body is only the first piece of equipment you’ll need when you get started with real estate photography. Full frame cameras tend to be better than APS-C cameras because full frame cameras provide a fuller angle of view.

The best camera for real estate photography should allow you to use a wide-angle lens, mount an external flash, use auto exposure bracketing settings, and shoot videos in at least 4K quality. 

Let’s take a quick look at four of the best cameras for real estate photography.

  • Fujifilm X-T20: This Fujifilm X-T20 is a great option for those who are new to real estate photography. This gives you 24MP image resolution, and it also has a relatively high ISO setting, so you can easily adjust it depending on the light levels available.
Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Digital Camera...
  • Canon 5DF Mark IV: This Canon model is a better option if you want to capture Dual Pixel Raw images, which allows for easy micro-adjustments later on. Additionally, this camera is WiFi-enabled, allowing you in-device image grabs from your recordings to make real estate photography even simpler.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera...
  • Panasonic Lumix G9: The Panasonic Lumix G9 offers 20MP high-resolution images. It's mirrorless, so it comes with a lens and a digital display rather than a window display. This camera is also WiFi compatible, allowing you to upload photos and videos as you shoot them. 
PANASONIC LUMIX G9 Mirrorless Camera Body (USA...
  • Nikon D850: To get excellent real estate photography no matter the light levels, the Nikon D850 is a solid DSLR camera choice. It performs well in low-light interiors, has ISO that goes down to 64, and gives you 4K Ultra HD videos.
Nikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body w/...
  • Drone: Some agents want aerial photos and videos to level up their promotions. However, when you're just getting started, it's better to skip some of the fancier gadgets like a drone until you need them!

Lenses

A professional real estate photographer must find the best angle to make a room or property listing look as spacious as possible. It's vital that your lens has a large maximum aperture value and fast focusing to produce excellent image quality.

To do this in a real estate photo, you need to choose the best wide angle lens. It's better to use wide-angle lenses to help get an entire room in a single shot and make interiors look more prominent.

Like wide-angle lenses, a tilt-shift lens is ideal for real estate photography to keep vertical lines straighter and perspectives more realistic. You can also use a zoom lens or ultra wide angle lens to achieve a versatile focal length.

Tripod

A tripod is among the most valuable photography tools for real estate photography. You must follow the right shooting height to give buyers a viewing experience as if they are walking on the house. Thus, you need a tripod to give your real estate photography added stability at various heights.

You will also use a tripod if you're shooting at slow shutter speeds or narrower aperture to widen the depth of field. Make sure to choose a lightweight yet sturdy tripod that can carry the weight of your gear. 

Choose either a carbon fiber tripod or aluminum tripod. You also need to consider the tripod ball head as this can impact versatility in changing angles for a real estate photo.

Lighting Gear

Light can eliminate darkness and shadows. However, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face in a real estate photography job is a lack of light indoors. While natural light is typically the best lighting source, there are times when artificial lights would provide more lighting power.

This type of photography relies on the best light to produce natural colors, texture, and effects. A camera's built-in flash may not be powerful enough, especially for vast spaces. This is why it's better to use a detachable flash when rooms are just too dark for the photo.

Thankfully, you can challenge lighting issues with the right lens, a detachable flash, or a real estate photography reflector. Learn more in our real estate photography lighting guide.

Accessories

You also need accessories like a real estate photography reflector to amplify light. In this way, you can highlight interiors features like floor texture or furniture colors in the image.

Exterior shot of suburban home

Client Management and Editing Software

For photo curation and presets, Lightroom, Skylum Luminar, Capture One Pro are better options. Meanwhile, Photomatix, Aurora HDR, and Photoshop are among the best HDR software to stitch bracketed photos together. 

Compared to other programs that require monthly or yearly subscriptions, there are also free applications like Darktable and GIMP. However, you would have limited tools, especially for real estate photography. For mobile post-processing, particularly for creating graphics for marketing materials, use Canva, Snapseed, Afterlight, or VSCO

You would eventually need to use an online client and photo management software to streamline your real estate photography workflow. View Shoot and TourBuzz are excellent options for real estate photography. Meanwhile, you may not need them right away, although you can add virtual staging and floor plan programs. 

Learn Proper Camera Settings

Knowing how to get into real estate photography also means learning how to deliver output. Do that by applying the correct settings on your devices.

The bigger the aperture, the better, as more light will enter the camera sensor. Using larger aperture values will ensure even exposure, sharpness, and a moderate depth of field in a real estate photo. If you set aperture priority, the device would automatically apply the corresponding shutter speed. 

However, if you’re taking real estate photographs on a dark day, consider raising ISO levels well above the usual 100-200 up to the thousands if necessary. Color and light are significant in real estate photography, which is why you can also change the white balance to remove color casts. 

Practice Real Estate Photo Editing

Some property photos don't require heavy post-production. Most of the time, you only need to brighten an image that’s just too dark, do some color-correcting, fix white balance, or crop and realign an image. Even stitching bracketed images can be simple if you're using the best HDR software.

In contrast, you need to do more than fixing the white balance and do more extensive photo editing if a real estate agent wants virtual staging or iGuide tours. Fortunately, much of the software is easy to use. Likewise, there are plenty of photography tutorials out there to show you how to start.

This is why it's vital to practice using photo editing software. It's common for real estate agents to request to put fire in fireplaces, add objects in a scene, or make something look wet. Make sure to learn how to compress images or resize photos for MLS websites. 

Attend Real Estate Photography Classes

There are different forms of real estate photography classes. Some full time photographers offer free online tutorials or workbooks. You can also avail of paid courses, especially if you want to get certifications.

On the other hand, there may be real estate photography clubs in your local area that hold special lectures or workshops from time to time. Some art festivals and events also invite photographers to share their work and give short lectures.

However, if you learn more through practical application, you can offer to assist a professional real estate photographer in an actual photo shoot and learn from experience. Another way is to join photo walks to practice photographing building facades or store interiors.

Build Your Portfolio

You need to showcase your photography skills if working in the real estate photography industry is your dream job. The best way to attract customers and earn money is by having an extensive photography portfolio that displays your real estate photos and photography skills. 

Of course, you can always use previous clients to flesh out your portfolio. In addition, practice real estate photography around your living room or the house of your loved ones. Pick your favorite pieces and use them as examples to broadcast your talent.

Use Marketing Tools for a Real Estate Photography Business

Developing a website is one of the best ways to promote your real estate photography business. Use it to compile sample photos and crucial information about your services. Likewise, you can establish an About Me page that accurately shows who you are as a real estate photographer.

Write articles about the people's most common inquiries about your real estate services. More than that, you can allot a page to advertise discounts, vouchers, promo codes, and free offers for a limited time. 

Visitors can also send messages to you directly on the website. The data you gather serves as lead generation, which you can use to develop targeted campaigns to boost reach and sales.

Photo Blog

Include a photo blog section on your website to discuss topics related to real estate photography. In this way, potential clients can see your expertise and experience. As much as possible, try to incorporate your property shots in articles and promotions.

Make sure to create an easy-to-navigate gallery of your recent shots. You can even upload behind-the-scenes photos, so people would get an idea of what it's like working with you.

Remember, a blog would be part of your long-term branding. Hence, it should best reflect your style as a photographer and who you are as a creative person.

Person uploading real estate photos using a smartphone

Social Media Marketing

If you're more of a social media type of person, it's better to promote through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Behance. 

About 54% of people use social media to search for products and services. You can combine photos, videos, text, and graphics to promote your business.

Besides, engaging with potential customers through social platforms is one of the cost-efficient ways to advertise your real estate photography.

Know Where to Get Real Estate Photography Clients

When photographers ask how to get into real estate photography, one of the common questions is getting jobs.

There are several seasoned real estate photographers in the industry already. You would also be competing with new ones. 

Thus, becoming a photographer also requires learning how to attract clients despite the competition. The good thing is that there are several ways and platforms for you to secure bookings.

Job-Posting Websites 

Several job websites allow people to create free accounts to find a job.

These are just some reliable platforms where you can market your real estate photography services and get hired. 

  • Upwork: Upwork is one of the world's leading freelancing websites with a network of employers. This website tends to have higher-paying jobs and more secure payment processes than other websites.
  • Fiverr: Unlike Upwork, clients in Fiverr would contact you if they want to hire you. However, there's a huge competition since several freelancers use the platform.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a better social media option if you want to check a person's credibility since it's mainly a platform for professionals.
  • Freelancer: Freelancer is also a good website for entry-level real estate photographers who can't offer high prices yet. 

Real Estate Conventions

There will be many ways for realtors to sell homes as the demand for real estate properties grows. Thus, take advantage of real estate events, especially in your area of service. 

This is a great chance to connect with agents or home sellers who may need real estate photos for their listings and marketing collateral. 

You may even encounter professional real estate photographers who need interns or assistants.

Develop Real Estate Photography Pricing

You might struggle with pricing real estate photography services as a newbie real estate photographer. To get a ballpark figure, research how much other real estate photographers in your area typically charge. Additionally, make sure to consider the budget for tools, marketing, transportation, utilities, and your professional fee.

Real estate photography pricing is typically on a per-hour or square-footage basis. Gradually, you would see how to turn rates into packages to attract more people. You may even charge higher rates for rush delivery and premium products. 

When starting a real estate photography business, you may want to price services a little below your competition. This way, you can build up your portfolio and develop relationships with real estate agents in your area.

Earnings as a Real Estate Photographer

A real estate photographer may earn an average monthly income of $51,000. However, you may not be able to achieve this rate right away.

Similar to other niches, keep in mind that professional photographers can charge higher than beginners. This is mainly due to the difference in experience, skills, and product offerings.

Furthermore, income from real estate photography may depend on the location. For example, a beginner photographer in California may charge around $90 for 25 edited shots in a 2,500 square-foot property. In comparison, premium real estate photography services in New York may cost at least $320 per hour. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Shoot Real Estate Photos for Free?

If you're a beginner real estate photographer, you can accept 1 or 2 jobs for free if it's for practice. However, make sure that the client understands you can't produce professional photos yet.

What Are the Challenges of Getting into Real Estate Photography?

Homes can be notoriously tricky to shoot well, so expect to wear many hats as a real estate photographer. It may not give you much creative expression or emotional connection. You may also encounter difficulties in shooting techniques, communicating with customers, finalizing a deal, and becoming a one-person team.

Last Thoughts

Breaking into the real estate photography market can feel overwhelming. However, with the right equipment, practice, and marketing tools, you can shoot great photos that attract agents and sellers to book you. Make sure to continue learning and building your portfolio to improve your skills as a real estate photographer. 

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