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Your Cost Of Showing Up For A Shoot Is Increasing

Published: 25/02/2011
By: larry

There are more an more reasons these days to be carefully tracking your expenses and adjusting your shoot prices. In case you haven't noticed the price of oil and petrol is knocking on heaven's door!

Since my post last Nov on computing your cost of showing up and writing a new section in my Business of Real Estate Photography eBook on tracking your cost of showing up I've become more and more aware of the fact that there are so many real estate photographers charging below $100 for a shoot. My "How much do you charge poll" indicates that about 13% of PFRE readers are charging less than $100 to shoot a 3000 SF home. This tells me there are a lot of folks that aren't even tracking their expenses.

Petrol prices are probably not your biggest line item expense of showing up but it's been increasing significantly in the last few weeks and the political instability in many of the oil producing countries will likely keep it going up for a while.

The thing is, if you don't have a good handle on all of your expenses  you may be losing money in the long run. Everyone seems to understand including mileage, equipment costs and computer costs in your cost of doing business but I find many I run across fail to include the cost of health insurance, the cost of replacing your camera body and computer every two or three years and replacing your vehicle every 5 to 10 years.

Besides impacting your own financial well being in the long run I think there is a potential negative on your local competition from not making sure your price is high enough to cover all your expenses and a reasonable profit. Put differently, If your shoot price doesn't include all your expenses you are not competing fairly with your competition. I think that 13% of PFRE readers that are charging less that $100 USD for shooting a 3000 SF home should be taking a careful look at raising their prices.

5 comments on “Your Cost Of Showing Up For A Shoot Is Increasing”

  1. Identifying the cost of showing up and calculating how much you're making an hour for the shoot, travel and post edit etc. is easy enough. Plus you have laid it all out in simple terms here and in previous posts. The difficult part is raising prices and still acquiring new clients. Some agents THINK they are RE photographers and represent part of the problem. There are of course exceptions. Some are new and trying to break into the business. Low pricing is perceived as a way. If anyone has the silver bullet to building revenues, please share. Direct contact with agents selling higher priced properties and offering them solutions that the other low priced competitors can't can be a means of gettting that higher price. At least from new clients. Can the agent/photog give them blue skies even through trees? Do they offer a PFRE tour with the shoot. Can they remove the last bit of snow from busch tops? What about Puppet Warp to handle that end table that still doesn't look right? Do their images look pro and noise free even on Larry's 27" Mac monitor? Those are some thoughts.

    We collectively have to promote the value of a pro RE photog. Just because you shot weddings for 15 years doesn't mean you walk into RE and have instant success. Many agents are are looking at their expenses and may be having a hard go of it. If an agent has a $900K listing, they need to find a way to afford a few hundred to have a tour and quality images. If that agent has found a good photog that has met expectations, it is in their own best interests to keep him/her in business buying new equipment to continue the effort to make $ for the agent. The good RE Photographer is an asset!

    One more point. It is not a war. If your a photgrapher and not an agent/photographer, then the agent is your primary customer (the one writing the check). Selling around the agent may work a time or two, but I see the agent as the one to make happy. It would naturally follow that the seller would also be happy too. Arguing with the agent over the issue isn't going to work well. My price list is is online for all to see. All comments welcome. At those prices, the way I handle post edit can still lead to India sized hourly wages often.

  2. Even at $100 in most markets, it is hard to cover costs, let alone your hourly rate ( the value you place on your time )
    I am just starting out in real estate photography, and do not go below $100. With the skills, experience and knowledge, I would expect I should be charging closer to $250 to cover my costs and make a small profit. I find that I can rarely do a shoot from start to finish in less than 4 hours. This factors in all my time pre and post process, travel, etc. Perhaps when I get better, I can cut back that time.... I hope anyway, I see some people on forums saying their costs are low, and they can shoot a house in 15min! Obviously this does not leave any travel time, or other costs. i.e post process, uploading pics etc.

    recently I have spent over $5000 on upgrading my camera gear, software, and a new macbook(shipping soon!)
    I will be building these costs into my pricing structure, and add value to my product. At $100 per shoot.... I will never pay for the upgrades!

    If you sell on price..... you will die on price.....


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