Last Updated on January 17, 2021 by Jose Barrios
Unlike other types of photography, real estate photos are a type of commercial photography. We work to produce images for the purpose of marketing a property for sale or rent.
Producing images with commercial intent sets real estate photographers apart from other industries such as wedding photographers, real estate photos are more akin to product photography.
Why real estate agents need Professional photographers:
- Real estate listing agents are marketers
- Marketers need photos and more
- Professional real estate agents want professional photos
- Avoid buyers’ agents and part-time agents
- Professional photos vs agents with smartphones
- Don’t become a photography evangelist
Real estate listing agents are marketers
There are two types of real estate agents: seller’s agents and buyer’s agents. As a real estate photographer, we are interested in the first kind, seller’s agents, also known as “listing agents”.
Listing agents operate as a small advertising agency. They prep the property put a price on it, and market the property to places like the MLS, Realtor.com, and Zillow in hopes of attracting a buyer.
For all effects and purposes, listing agents are in reality a marketing/advertising agency, and operate in the same way. They see a good photographer as an integral part of their marketing efforts and they understand the costs involved with hiring one.
Marketers need photos and more
In today’s digital world trying to sell anything without showing a photo is next to impossible. Long gone are the days when simple text ads in local newspaper classifieds would get a home sold.
People now expect to see photos, and they want them to be good ones. Everyone now shops for everything online, and houses are no exception.
And it’s not just photos, to stay competitive in today’s digital market, people want to see 3D tours, Drone Photos, and video, and thanks to increasing access to high-speed internet, be it at home or on their smartphones, consumers expect to see more and more of this type of rich media.
Great listing agents understand what is required to get the property sold and are more likely to hire good photographers, not because they are cheap, but because they deliver an exceptional product, on time, and executed in a professional manner.
After all, listing agents are running a business, and if they do not deliver on their promise of getting the property sold, they will soon be out of business.
Professional real estate agents want professional photos
Real estate agents that are dedicated to being a listing agent know how important it is for their business to have great photos. For these top producers, time is money, they appreciate how important quality is for the service they offer: Marketing.
Just like an advertising agency, they invest money in home staging, cleaning services, landscaping, open houses, and more in order to get the property sold, and the one service that trumps all others is real estate photos and video.
Professional listing agents do see you the photographer as an expense to be avoided, but as an investment to get the property sold.
Avoid buyers’ agents and part-time agents
I’m not saying to not do business with them, but in my experience, these customers are not only inconsistent when it comes to obtaining listings to photograph, but also tend to go for the cheapest photographer they can find. They see photos as an expense to be avoided, they do not see you the photographer as part of their process of selling homes quickly and for more.
It has also been my experience that these clients hardly ever hire you again, especially if they managed to find a cheaper person, and ask for the biggest amount of freebies (like can you please take a photo of the community pool for free?).
Professional photos vs smartphones
The death of the professional photographer has been announced many a time with the advent of better and more advanced phones and action cameras, with many an agent taking their own photos with their $1K smartphone, but these cameras are not and will never be a substitute for optics (there is a reason that big lenses have big price tags and it has to do with physics not so much with technology, you can read more about real estate lenses (here) or postprocessing the photos.
Most if not all of today’s photographs are manipulated with software such as Lightroom and Photoshop. The photograph you see of a house online is not what came out of the camera.
Don’t become a photography evangelist
A good friend of mine has a small marketing agency and has struggled from time to time to close deals with some of his potential customers. After talking with him extensively I came to the conclusion that his problem was not the product he sold, it was that he was selling to the wrong customer. His sales pitch started by explaining to the potential customer why they required his services.
He was trying to convert them to his way of thinking, he was evangelizing them, and this is a mistake.
Photographers, especially real estate photographers, try to do the same. Don’t be this person. If and when you do manage to convince them why they need you, they will more than likely leave you for someone cheaper regardless of quality.
Go out and sell to people who want your business, they are more likely to hire you over and over again. These persons do not see you as a burden but as an essential part of their business.
Real estate photographs are important, and if you have to explain to a potential customer why they need your services, then more than likely they are not a good fit for you.
My customers hire me because I deliver a good product in a timely manner at a fair price (I’m not the cheapest by far, learn more on how to price your photos here) and they know that by using my services they will look good in the eyes of their customers, ensuring the growth and prosperity of their business.
I hope this not so brief rant helps you in your photography business.
“What can I say? I love taking photos of houses.”
Based in Orlando Florida, Jose is a real estate photographer specializing in vacation homes, working for realtors and property managers to make their properties look great. You can visit his site at JoseBarriosPhoto.com.