From talking to real estate photographers and agents the geographic variability in demand for real estate photography is quite apparent. It's harder to do business in some locations than others. There are some locations that are hot and some that are not. What's going on here?
One interesting illustration of this varied geographic demand is Google.com/trends. Google trends shows geographically where search terms are being used. If you type in "real estate photographer" it shows you geographically where people are searching for that search term. Before I discovered google.com/trends I knew from just by talking to people, that there was something very special about real estate photography in AU and NZ. Moreover, it appears that Brisbane has some real estate photography stimulant in the water. It is clearly the real estate photography capital of the world!
I've been looking for a measure of real estate photography demand that gives more detail than google/trends (for some reason it only ever shows a handful of US cities. It dawned on me recently that the PFRE real estate photographer directory and in particular the number of real estate photographers in the directory in each geographic area is a rough measure of the demand for real estate photography services in that area. The more demand in an area would mean there are more real estate photographers in that area to service the need. A demand index would also have to take into account population. So to create a real estate photography demand index what I've none is divide the number of real estate photographers in a state by the population of the state. Here is what a chart of that PFRE demand index looks like.
This chart shows that HI has the highest demand and LA (Louisiana) has 21 times lower demand. States to the left are going to be easier to make a living in this industry than the states to the right. Also, you may want to think twice before you start a real estate business in AK, IA, KY, ND, NE, SD, VT, WV, WY or MS. I'm not sure all the factors are at work here but this index matches the my general impressions that com from talking to photographers and agents around the US. This could just be showing where there are more upper-end homes or it could be illustrating the general economic health of states. Probably a variety of cultural and economic factors.
I should point out that this index is more accurately showing major metro areas instead of the whole state. For example, most of the real estate photographers in WA are in Seattle and most of the real estate photographers in OR are in Portland etc. I just did this by state to simplify the work. Perhaps in the future I'll do it by city.