Vincent Laforet, a Pulitzer prize-winning staff photographer for the NY Times, sums up the situation going on now in photography as follows: "This past year has been one of the roughest years for the newspaper and magazine industry --- and the truth be told --- the outlook for the next few years looks even grimmer" in his post "The Cloud is Falling".
The good news for real estate photographers is that many of these same forces that threaten photographers in the print media are having the opposite effect in the real estate industry. The real estate industry has been becoming increasingly web centric for years. Real estate photography is already primarily web centric and real estate photographers are for the most part independent contractors. The whole business model in real estate photography is more sustainable.
So what is the effect of the demise of print media on real estate photography? It's not very hard to figure out- competition is going to increase. I've talked to several new real estate photographers in the last month that used to have staff jobs at print publications. They don't like the fact that they are now independent contractors rather than on salary but it's possible to build a consistent income doing real estate photography. One ex-staff photographer told me he saw his options as wedding photography or real estate photography and he didn't have the personality for shooting weddings. I predict that the competition in real estate photography will increase in the next few years. This increased competition is going to make it more and more important to be doing all the basics well so you can compete successfully.
Here are the things I think are going to become increasingly important to compete well in real estate photography:
These sound easy enough but it's difficult to consistently do these three things well. The biggest impediment to doing these three things is that we are geeks and tend to get wrapped up in the technical details like cameras and Photoshop and don't do the marketing and people things as well as they need to be done. Remember to build your business you need to be proactive. Don't just build a great web site and wait for agents to find you. The best way to expand you business is to make personal contact with people you know are potential clients.