The last couple of days I've been talking to Robert Barr of Washington Home Tours in Woodinville, WA, who is launching his new real estate photography business. Robert graduated from the University of Washington in the summer of 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Robert has been shooting for an unnamed big tour company while he's been working on getting his own real estate photography company off the ground.
Robert wanted some feedback on his website and getting his company off the ground. Here's some of my feedback:
- When I first talked to Robert the page titled "Welcome" was his front page. Even though It had a small photo on it I told him there were too many words for the front page of a photographers site. I suggested that he move his gallery to the front page. Since he's his own web developer he immediately did that and made the front page photos larger and removed the thumbnails. I think his changes he's made the site much stronger.
- A few images in the gallery need a little vertical straightening and barrel distortion removal but in general they are quite strong images.
- Robert and I had a lot of discussion about what to charge per shoot. I suggested that in the Puget Sound area he should charge closer to twice what he was planning to charge. My argument is that I have a rental home in the Puget Sound area that I have to pay $145 to get the furnace maintained and the guy that comes has fewer tools, stays about 20 minutes and is done. As a photographer you have to drive the same amount, you have at least as much technical skill, you have more investment in tools, you spend about 90 minutes on site plus another hour or so when you get back home. Not only that, but the furnace guy probably has benefits like health care, two weeks paid vacation which Robert has to pay for himself. The furnace guy charged $15 more in 2010 than in 2009 so prices aren't going down. I'm suggesting that Robert or anyone doing real estate photography in the Seattle area charge a minimum of $165 per shoot. If you don't you will lose money in the long run. Why I like to use my furnace guy as a pricing reference is he's providing a service that's very similar to a real estate photographer. Why should a photographer charge less?
Give Robert your feedback on his site and any advice you have on pricing. Anyone starting out these days needs all the help they can get.