Last Updated on August 7, 2020 by Jose Barrios
A professional real estate photographer generally costs between $100 and $300 per photo shoot. Depending on what part of the country you are in and the size of the house these prices vary. These prices are not including addons like drone photos, videos, or 3D tours. Prices depend on competition, cost of living (think California or New York), and quality of work.
How to price your work
By far this is the most asked question by any photographer. Charge too little and you seem inexperienced. Charge too much and you come across as overpriced or too good for what the customer wants.
If you price yourself too low, you might get a lot of work, but you limit your growth. With small profit margins, you must do everything yourself. You can not outsource editing work or hire other photographers, you become a one-man show.
If you are the most expensive person out there, work will be few and far between. You might end up not getting enough sales to stay in business.
To price your services you must do the following:
1- Identify your competition
Start by searching Google for “real estate photographer near me” and “real estate photographer in (YOUR CITY)”. Make a list with the top 20 results that show up. Make sure to not count paid advertising results, you want to search for only organic results.
Repeat the process with Google maps. Search with the term “near me” and then repeat and search with the name of the city you are targeting. Make note of the top 20 results.
You want to take note of the following information:
- Company name
- Position in search results
Now you need to clean your list of junk results. Go through it and check for the following and remove them if:
- They don’t have a website
- Website is cheap or outdated
- They are not local (this is a big one!)
Congratulations, you now know who your competition is.
2- Check your competitors’ services
The second part of the process is to see what services they offer. You now must go to each website and take note of what they offer and put this in your spreadsheet.
Services can vary from one photographer to another, and many will offer the same thing, but with different names.
Take note of the following services:
- Photo offerings by size, by room, etc.
- Combo packages
- Delivery time
Extra services such as drone photos, video, virtual staging, twilight photos, etc. should also be noted.
3- How much do they charge?
Now go through your list and take note of how much they are charging for their services. Take special note of any combo packages, or discount they offer by bundling services.
You now have a market analysis of your competition, who they are, where they are, what they are offering, and how much they charge.
4- What is their quality like?
This following step is subjective. You can tell what techniques and equipment they are using in their photos by looking at their galleries.
In my experience these are the 3 things to look out for:
- Are they doing window pulls?
- Are they doing HDR?
- Are they editing their photos?
Window pulls are when you make your windows in a photo both have correct exposure for the inside and outside. The outside of the windows has to look crystal clear. If they are doing this, you know for a fact they are using strobes and Photoshop.
HRD (High Dynamic Range) photos are convenient and fast to edit but are not a substitute for a proper window pull. They tend to distort colors and look odd. I do not like them.
Photo editing can also be noticed by the trained eye. Color cast removal, no hard shadows, no strange colors from light bulbs, etc. are all telltale signs of editing.
Now grade your competitors by quality from 0 to 5 and place this on your spreadsheet with zero being the worst and 5 the best
- Did they take the photos with a phone or a polaroid?
- Kit camera and lens from Costco, they have no idea what they are doing.
- The photos are just OK, with no window pulls or flash use, mostly HDR.
- Middle of the road, MLS quality images
- Good photos, they used window pulls, flambients, are edited and did not use HDR.
- Photos belong on the cover of a magazine
Your goal from a marketing and business perspective is to be between 3 and 4 when it comes to quality. If you are planning on high-end photos you should segment your photography business and offer this type of photography as a separate package or better yet a different business altogether.
High-end real estate photos need high-end equipment like tilt-shift lenses, large strobes, and assistants. A high-end photoshoot can take a whole day or more to carry out. All these factors make these photos very expensive and your usual run of the mill client will not understand why they cost so much. By placing this offering next to your regular photos, you make your regular photos look cheap by comparison.
Real estate agents that sell high-end homes understand the value and work that goes into magazine-style photos. But even many of them are not willing to pay for this type of photography. They see photos as all being the same.
5- What services can you offer?
You must now take the list of services offered by your competition and see what you are able to offer potential customers.
Keep in mind that just because they offer a service, it does not mean that the service is marketable or profitable. When researching my area of influence, I discovered that many people offered services based on equipment that they had bought, not necessarily on what people wanted.
In my years of photographing houses, I have discovered a couple of junk services that few people ask for or are willing to pay, such as:
- Virtual staging
- Twilight photography
- Digital declutter
- Property websites
- Property flyers
Many photographers might have gotten stuck with very expensive equipment (think Matterport) or software platforms that no one cares about (property websites). Just because your competition offers a service does not mean you have to offer it also.
Some services are too complicated to offer or time-consuming like twilight photos. Others like virtual staging depend on outsourcing, adding extra costs and delays.
6- So how much should you charge?
You now have identified your competition, how good or not they are, what they offer, and how much they charge. Your aim now is to be like your biggest competitor and offer similar products and pricing.
Experience has shown me that the best approach is to be the middle of the road. Your biggest competitor will more than likely be photographing at a level 3 or 4 quality. You should look at their pricing and match it. Do not offer lower prices, this will only hurt you in the long run.
Beware of bottom feeders!
People that are pricing shopping for their photos are usually bad customers. They will dump their current photographer for a $10 discount, and they will dump you for another cheaper photographer. It’s a race to the bottom and nobody ever wins.
When I started, I would do jobs for any amount of money as long as I had a new client, I thought that being cheaper than the competition would get me ahead. I was dead wrong! They never call back, they are just too cheap, and more than likely mediocre real estate agents that sell just a couple of houses a year.
Win over customers with service, not price.
Quality service with a smile, good real estate agents want it and are willing to pay for it. An average home in Florida is about $300K, this means that a listing agent can make up to $9K commission on a sale. With so much money at stake a $10, $20, the price difference will not stop a realtor from hiring you. They want their house sold fast and they know that they need good quality photos to do this.
By delivering your photos in a timely manner and edited (read more on the only 3 photo editing softwares you will need) you will get hired over and over again.
Maximize your profits with add on services
Extra services are what will take your photography business to the next level. They can turn a $150 photoshoot to a $250 one with minimal effort on your behalf. Fast-food chains use this technique every day, it’s how a plain hamburger goes from $4 to more than $8 when you add a drink and fries.
Photography addons I love to offer:
- Drone photos
- Video walkthroughs
- Zillow 3D tours
- Community photos
All these services are quick to execute and will increase your bottom line. They also allow you do offer discounts by bundling extra services.
7- Offer bundled services or combos
Never discount your main service, this only makes for cheap customers that are now used to paying less for your photos. Instead, offer them discounted add-ons.
My best selling addon service is drone photos, I only charge $35 for them, a cheap price for drone photos. But you can only get that price if you buy the normal photos at full price. It only takes me 15 minutes to fly the drone and 15 minutes to edit the photos, that comes to $70 an hour, that is a great return. Many a real estate agent has hired me just to get the drone deal.
To sum it all up: to price your real estate photos you should do the following:
- Identify your competition
- Offer the same packages as your largest competitor
- Price your photos the same as your largest competitor
- Offer packages or combos
- Win over clients with service not price
- Only discount addons, never the photos
I hope this guide helps you in pricing out your real estate photos, and do keep in mind that this is just a guide and each market is different, so don’t be afraid to change things around so they work for you.
Creative Cloud Photographyby Adobe
- Photoshop (included)
- Lightroom (included)
- Lightroom Classic (included)
- Photoshop Express (for your tablet, included)
- Photoshop Camera (for your smartphone, included)
- Upgrades (included)
Luminar 4by Skylum Software
- AI Sky Replacement
- AI Augmented Sky
- AI Skin Enhancer & Portrait Enhancer
- AI Structure
- Golden Hour
- Face Features Detection Network
- Significant overall User Experience (UX) improvements
- Completely redesigned Edit module
- Improved quality of the Denoise tool
- Default Color Styles (LUTs) library extended with many new styles