Lee Jinks recently pointed out an article over at petapixel.com that was based on another article by Seth Godin. What Godin is talking about is going on in real estate photography. Everyone has access to quality gear and software and there's always an amateur out there that is willing to shoot a property $50, $60 or $90.
The number one question I get these days is something like the following:
"...how am I supposed to break into the real estate photography market when agents tell me the photographer they use normally only charges $40?"
Godin's solution is three pronged:
Of course these principles apply in most businesses and to do each one of these things you have to be innovative. Innovation and passion is the key to being successful.
One quality evolution that I see going on in just the last month is the increase in number of real estate photographers discovering full frame cameras and glass. Having the best gear won't make you a professional but because of all the new full frame bodies are becoming available for less then the were the last few years more people are purchasing them. The standard is rising. Lee Jinks was telling me:
"...I've noticed is that better equipment can make a difference. What I mean is that I shot a wedding a few weeks ago with two cameras. A D700 with an 85mm f/1.4 and a D5000 a 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6. It almost looked like two different events. Probably because of the difference in the glass."
So one of the things you can do to raise the level of your quality is make sure you are using the very best gear and glass. But the gear isn't going to get you the competitive edge by itself. Some great example of the kind of things you need to do to survive and compete can be seen in the descriptions of the lighting and post techniques that the winners of the PFRE photographers of the month are using.