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What Kind of Add-on Services Should Real Estate Photographers Provide?

Published: 14/03/2018

Aaron in Florida says:

I’m curious how many real estate photographers offer different levels of photos and if so, how they differentiate them? For example, with a 24 photo package, it seems like it would be a good idea to offer 4 to 6 “magazine” quality shots for the most important areas like kitchen, master bed, exterior, pool, etc… For me, these would be shot using 3 to 5 flash/umbrella kits where necessary. Maybe some extra time in post to make them perfect. Then for the rest of the photos just use ambient light and maybe a single flash/umbrella and less time in post.

I suggest that you offer one consistent level of quality of photos because the vast majority of Realtors are not going to be able to tell how many lights you use and how much time you've spent in post. Just look as good or better than your competitors.

What's probably more important than the different quality of photos you offer are the various add-on services that you provide.

Here are some typical add-on services that real estate photographers provide:

  1. Twilight shots: This typically takes an additional trip at the right time of day. This is a very important service.
  2. Floor plans: Measure and construct floor plan diagrams for both online and offline marketing.
  3. Tours and property sites: Mini websites that can be used to promote the property.
  4. 360 degree images: There are many alternative technologies for providing these. Matterport is currently the most popular.
  5. Property video: Property video takes a while to learn. It is much more difficult than interior still photography.
  6. Elevated photography: Most real estate photographers provide some form of elevated exterior shots. On the PFRE blog, it is referred to as PAP (Pole Aerial Photography).
  7. Drone photography/video: This is becoming a must-have service.

Many of these services can significantly add to your income but research your market carefully before investing in the gear to provide these add-on services.

Larry Lohrman

11 comments on “What Kind of Add-on Services Should Real Estate Photographers Provide?”

  1. This is a great question! This question applies to the area in which you live and also what your other competitors in the area are offering. I have found the more services I provide the more clients I get because they love that I am a “one stop shop”. they don’t want to hire five different vendors when they can just pay one company to do everything for them.

  2. My basic package is 20ish photos and the price varies by distance. I offer a 12 image package for a reduced rate near my home. I also offer to do a mini-shoot in conjunction with a full session on the same day and in the same area for an agent if they have a listing that doesn't have a very large marketing budget. I make the best images I can within the two hours I allot to each job. I always spend more time on the "money" images and less time on basic bedrooms and bathrooms which are very easy to photograph to start with.

    I also offer a bespoke session for luxury homes where I'll spend more time on each composition/detail and photograph each room at a time of day for the best light. I only do these a couple of times a year.

    Twilight images are getting more popular with my clients that are now completely sold on using professional photography for as many of their listings as they can afford. The top agent in my area includes a very nice twilight image on all of his listings. They're easy to spot since his photographer keeps using the same sky.

    If agents in your area are using printed brochures, you might want to make some templates and include the brochure artwork. I include 5 resolutions of images so agents don't have to spend any time resizing images for the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, and for their web sites. It's simple to do with Lightroom presets.

    Pole aerial photography is quick and easy. Getting the camera up 12-15' makes a big difference, especially on a two story house. You can also use a pole inside to capture upstairs family rooms, catwalks or getting to a good height to look out of a lofted living room's view windows. I made mine from a fiberglass painters pole, a Manfrotto tilt head with an Arca Swiss clamp. It only takes minutes to use and I might have a whole $40 into it.

    Business is business and you can only spend so much time on site, but do what it takes to get the best images you can. If it takes 5 flashes, a couple of umbrellas and some time in post for a grand space, you need to put that effort into the job. I always start with the easiest images as a warm up and to get them out of the way. Doing the most complicated image last means you will know how much time you have to dig in and craft it since it's probably the composition that is really going to sell the home. If you have more time available and you aren't being pushed out the door by the owner or agent, don't be stingy about spending another 15 minutes if you think it's going to make a big difference.

  3. So I do offer levels of photography - not based on the number of photos, but whether they want guaranteed clear windows or if they can live without. I have some immaculate homes that I shoot for agents that only want the best, and we usually walk through a week before and I provide them a quote for photography (and additional services.)

    That being said I offer the following add-ons / upsells:

    Twilight Photos (3 images of front or 1 front & 1 back)
    Elevated Pole Photos (for no drone zones)
    Drone (Photos, Video, Photos + Video - 3 pricing tiers)
    Photo Slideshow Video (unbranded & branded - 2 tiers)
    Cellphone Walkthrough Video
    Property Video
    Matterport (with 3 pricing tiers)
    Flyer Design
    Just Listed/Sold Cards
    Sky Replacement (if you haven't checked out go there right now - I started using them last week on a trial basis to free up my evening workload and they do some solid work for my style of shooting. It's well worth sending them your edited exterior shots for $1 sky replacements that are pretty dang fabulous, especially in tree canopies)

  4. My minimum photoshoot package is 1-20 images - bigger for larger homes.
    I shoot stills & Video (with a video slider) for a few clients every shoot, others it depends on the listing and charge based on property/house size.
    I have two floorplanners/subcontractors - some clients almost every listing and others it depends on the property. I pay my floorplanners directly and charge my clients a bit
    extra for the service/my time.
    I've made a few brochure templates and do them for some clients every shoot - I only charge them $25. for the new listing update as it only takes me 15 minutes max to
    swap the photos and insert the new text details (not really worth my time but happy clients) - I use several different printers and have my clients pay the printer directly and pick up their brochures or
    order delivery themselves.
    My son does all my editing - I help/tweak when necessary - he is also starting to shoot so we will need to consider outsourcing editing at some point. We do a quick graduated blue sky on all exteriors on
    cloudy/rainy day shoots.

    We have recently switched away from HDR to multiple flash and layers where necessary - reading postings on this great site convinced us to ditch hdr and reduce the post processing more and more - get
    it in the camera!

    I'm looking for a subcontractor(s) for Matterport as two clients would like to try it (I don't want to buy the gear or do it - I don't see clients paying for Matterport on a regular basis - am I wrong?).
    I'd love to get into drones but think a subcontractor best for now (so many rules and no fly zones - and other than the 4 dry months of summer we get a lot of rain in Vancouver.

    Do others subcontract drone and Matterport?

    Good idea to do elevated polo photos - what does anyone use for a lightweight and I assume inexpensive camera on top?

  5. Forgot to mention twilight - it's very popular here and I have two clients that have me shoot every listing at twilight. I go a bit early and
    knock off the non window angles and less important rooms right away - at dusk I start shooting the key interior shots and go outside for the
    exteriors when the dusk/twilight is ideal. Some clients prefer dusk - others want that darker indigo sky. On occasion I shoot a property at day
    light then charge them extra to return for dusk/twilight exteriors.

  6. As an add-on service, I've sold wall prints directly to buyers and sellers. Some sellers want a memory of the house they grew up in and raised their family. Buyers want a good professional picture of their new pride and joy to hang in their office or den. There's a good markup on prints and frames.

  7. I normally inform my agents, that shoot multiple lighting and HDR, then explain what it does for them.

    It gives me more control and have to do less HDR, but it also helps separate my work from the low end RE point & shoot photographers who are flooding our market. on many of my properties, I also use a medium soft box, as it helps produce natural window lighting when used correctly.

    I now almost always start my exteriors on a 12' painters pole, and as Ken mentioned, it makes a big difference and does not take much longer to do. You get less sky, and more depth to the home.

    I always offer formal, or candid portrait sessions to my agents and their teams as many agents like to use old photos that flattered them, even if they are 15 years out of date. These portrait sessions have also generated many wedding shoots.

    I offer twilight (exterior and interior) shoots which are priced as additional add-ons depending on size. Many agents have no idea how long it takes to prep and shoot evening and twilight shoots. I have them meet me about 1 1/2 hrs before the shoot and have them turn on the lights, move furniture and help stage a room or home. after the shoot, they comment on how much work it is, how long it takes, and see what is involved in twilight /evening shoots. Then they understand when you tell them the cost.

    Customer service is so important. Besides producing great image quality, it is truly important to offer outstanding customer service!!!! If an agent or agency likes your work, but finds you too difficult or not flexible to work around their issues, they will find someone who will. I've picked up work from agents who have been using other photographers, either because their work is sub standard, don't work around the clients schedule or have a personality conflict.

    I always tell my clients, the answer is YES! what ever they need involving photography, YES, I can do it, or know someone who can help you. Its better to turn down a job that you feel is out of your expertise, than to do something you cant deliver 100%. your client will appreciate it.

  8. I think simplicity is key when dealing with agents and brokers. Most agents just want a straight forward price for high quality images, based on a 2-3 tier system depending on the property size. As Larry has stated on here before, most agents will not know the difference between a professional image that was shot with flash and a few exposures blended, or a laboring session with lights. Although it's a nice idea, I would focus on keeping your workflow quick and professional.

    Add-on services that frequently get ordered in my area:

    - Twilight photography
    - Aerial photography
    - Listing videos (usually reserved for high-end properties)
    - Matterport 3D

    Websites, flyer creation, and just sold cards are usually handled by the brokerage. Smaller offices or independent clients might ask the photographer for these services, in that case it's good to have some ready to use templates, but nothing too time consuming. Focus on your photography, not becoming a media manager for independent realtors.

    If you do not have a Matterport camera, I recommend finding someone in the area who has one and is NOT a photographer, to outsource the service too. Build a good rapport with them and bounce business back and forth. Do not out source the service to another photographer with a Matterport camera, you will lose the client to that photographer.

    Still image slideshows are out dated, you can generate them easily in Lightroom (or most editing software) but I wouldn't push the service unless you charge well for your time. When clients ask about slideshows, up-sell them to a video and charge a bit more. Also, lots of brokerages generate slideshows with the images your provide.

    Elevated pole photography is also pretty out-dated, seems like a rare need, you're better off investing in a drone, passing the test, and expanding your services with the new equipment.

  9. Two services that I am starting to pitch to clients are virtual twilights and virtual staging. I much prefer shooting real twilights, but I keep seeing the virtual ones pop up here locally. Both these items are an easy thing to add-on, just need to find the right person/company to outsource to.

  10. I'm wondering about virtual staging... How many people out there offer virtual staging as a service and what is the "standard" cost associated with virtual staging?

  11. I added virtual staging and just did a property for someone. is not cheap and I went through several "virtual stagers" before I got it done....and it was not up to my standards. Cheap is probably going to be poor. Since you pay upfront you better make sure it is good because many do not have a website. I would get recommendations from members here because it can be hit and miss on FB since many people juts recommend themselves

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