Real Estate Photography Business – How-To-Start Guide

If you enjoy selling properties or taking photos, you might have already started thinking about how to build a real estate photography business from scratch. Those who have managed to create a successful company earn about $50,000 per year.

Business owners don’t need to worry about being stuck in traffic jams. However, you need to consider a certain set of things when developing your business. In this article, you will find handy tips on how to ensure the growth of your company.

15 Steps to Start a Sucessful Real Estate Photography Business

Since it’s a niche photography industry, you can get many new clients and a stable income.

Only some tips listed below will help you quickly grow your business. You can use them to expand your client base. However, don’t disregard other steps that will help you develop various aspects of your business and prepare to photo shoots.

1. Create a Business Plan

real estate photography business plan

If you are on a budget and want to learn how to start a photography business with no money, think about your goals and what steps you need to take to reach them. When creating a plan, you need to consider several things.

Specific niche. For instance, you can decide to specialize in such genres as commercial real estate photography, high end real estate photography, 3D real estate photography, real estate aerial photography. All of them have their specifics, which is why it’s better to select one of them and study it thoroughly.

Business strategy. Think about the steps that you need to take to ensure the growth of your business, the problems that you might need to fix, and your vision.

Market research. You need to analyze what things might hinder your business’ growth. Consider the photography services that your target audience might need to order.

Finance evaluation. Make sure to estimate your expenses to predict how much profit you can make.

Tip: When creating your photography business plan, try estimating how much you need to spend on basic and additional gear, marketing campaigns, staff, courses, and software.

2. Get Required License

real estate photography business

This task might seem too difficult for those who want to learn how to get into real estate photography since the prices and requirements for licenses might differ depending on the location.

To develop a real estate photography business, you need to get a permit for two reasons. Firstly, it will allow you to collect the sales tax and then pay it to the government. Secondly, this way, you can create an LLC or corporation.

You need to have an EIN since it is used by the Internal Revenue Service to identify you as a taxpayer. It’s a must for certain types of business taxes. For instance, you will need it if you want to form a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation.

To get an EIN, visit the IRS website, check the requirements, and apply.

3. Protect Yourself with Insurance

It’s impossible to develop a successful business without photography insurance. If you are located in the USA, you can use various types of insurance:

General liability insurance will come in handy if you cause damage to your client or their property. It might also cover damages caused to a third party.

Professional liability insurance allows you to avoid losing money because of errors or omissions. For instance, if you lose the pictures of a real estate that your client wants to sell, it might be covered by liability insurance.

Equipment insurance allows you to quickly replace your photography gear if it gets broken or otherwise damaged. Depending on the policy, you might get reimbursed if your equipment gets damaged because of a fire, flood, etc.

Tip: If you work as a freelancer, make sure to sign the real estate photography contract with your customers or get payments through Thumbtack and Upwork. This way, you will still get paid even if your client refuses to follow the terms of an agreement.

On average, photographers and other creative professionals pay about $65 per month, or $779 annually, for insurance.

4. Choose Necessary Equipment

real estate photography business and equipment

Before starting working, make sure to buy a camera for real estate photography. It should be compatible with various lenses, support Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB), and a continuous shooting mode. You can purchase the Canon 5D Mark IV as your base photography gear. This camera allows you to take great photos at ISO up to 6400. Even if you use it at high sensitivities, you can take high-quality photos that can be published online.

real estate photography business and gear

As for other real estate photography equipment that you might need to use, make sure to purchase a wide lens. It will come in handy for photos of interiors since it enables you to capture the whole room. I advise you to buy the Canon 17-40mm f/4L or use other Canon wide-angle lenses.

Besides, you will need to use prime lenses, such as the Canon 50mm f/1.8. This lens will be perfect for capturing various details of interiors.

When taking photos of interiors, keep in mind that you might need to work in poor lighting conditions. This is why you might need to use a high ISO to take a good photo. If you notice that there is a problem with noise, you can fix it by using a tripod for photographers. The Amazon Basics tripod is made of special aluminum alloy, which makes it pretty lightweight.

When planning your budget, you need to allocate about $3,000 for photography gear. This investment is likely to pay off after 10 photo shoots.

starting a real estate photography business with drone

To take even more engaging videos of houses, try using a drone for real estate photography that will help you take eye-catching pictures. Camera drones will come in handy for creating a VR tour. A virtual tour will help a client to see all the details of the property.

Drones are also used for taking landscape shots. However, while you might occasionally use them to take pictures of various properties, they can’t replace a DSLR camera when you need to take photos of interiors.

5. Learn About the Market Prices and Estimate Your Profits

If you are wondering about an average real estate photography salary, keep in mind that most photographers take from $80 to $500 per shoot, depending on the size of a property and its location. Usually, the price covers the photo shoot itself and 25-50 edited photos. If you are a beginner, make sure not to set low prices since it might devalue your services in the future.

When starting a real estate photography business, remember that it might take from one to three years to make it profitable. Freelance real estate photographers can count on an annual profit of $50,000. If you are an established professional, you can get even more than $90,000 per year. Since the overhead costs are quite low, your profits will begin to grow exponentially when you start hiring more employees.

6. Think About Post-Processing

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If you are a beginner and need to meet a tight deadline, you can contact a professional editing service that specializes in enhancing photos of commercial properties, homes, or other buildings.

You might need to perform basic color correction, adjust the white balance, saturation, and other settings. In some cases, photographers edit the background, delete unwanted details, replace the sky, fix lens distortion.

To enhance images, you can use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom since they have professional photo-editing tools. If you opt for the latter, I recommend you to use real estate Lr presets or HDR real estate Lr presets to optimize your workflow.

Both these programs have free trial versions. When a free plan expires, you can purchase the Adobe Photography Plan or buy a set of photo-editing programs for $9.99/per month.

7. Take Courses

how to start real estate photography business

While you can build a business from scratch even without any technical skills, it’s better to take real estate photography classes to improve the quality of your photos and make your company stand out.

Before enrolling in courses, learn more about tutors. They should be industry professionals to provide you with information that will help you build a real estate photography business. You can also read reviews left by people who took these courses before.

Most photography schools will cost you from $10.000 to $30.000 per year. If you are on a budget, you can take online courses instead of getting a degree. Online courses usually cost around $100 per month.

Tip: If you are wondering about the quality of services provided by a photographer and want to know whether they can help you get new clients, you need to find out how to generate real estate leads.

8. Practice More

how to start real estate photography business tips

While it’s one of the most obvious real estate photography tips, you need to take it seriously. If you practice more, your skills will quickly improve. However, it might take much time to become a professional and start a successful real estate photography business.

Experienced photographers claim that it took them about 10,000 hours of taking photos to master their craft. The more time you invest, the faster you can improve your skills.

Tip: To meet other professionals from the industry and promote my services among real estate agents, I joined the international real estate photographers association. The REPAI is an online service that allows clients to find photographers based in the US and other countries across the globe.

9. Think About Payment Methods

While many beginners accept payments by cash, it’s better to allow your clients to use several payment methods. You can accept payments by card or check. Many photographers add various online payment options to their websites. Your customers will like an opportunity to pay via PayPal or Amazon Pay.

10. Walk Through The Home

how to start real estate photography business main steps

When you first come to a house, apartment, or other property that you need to shoot, make sure to examine all the rooms closely to analyze the lighting, select the right angles, and think about the details that you need to emphasize.

The owners of the property can move some objects or furniture pieces if they clutter the frame. It’s better to prepare a location beforehand to avoid editing out many unwanted details later.

11. Create A Standard Shot List for Photoshoot

starting a real estate photography business

To save time, you need to create a list of photos that you need to take at every location. It will help you to take pictures that your client needs more quickly.

For instance, you can take the following photos:

  • Front exterior (experiment with angles and distances)
  • Wide-angle photos of bedrooms, kitchen, den, etc.
  • Pictures of laundry, pantry, garage, basement
  • Backyard images

Tip: Besides, you need to think about how to organize your digital photography workflow. Make sure to create a backup, import and export photos, prepare them for publishing and printing.

12. Have a Website With Your Portfolio

starting a real estate photography business creating website

When starting a real estate photography business, you need to build an easy-to-navigate website with a photography portfolio. It will allow your potential clients to see your works before ordering your services.

If you are interested in well-paying real estate photography jobs, you need to add the best photos to your website. However, make sure that you have the right to post them online.

When creating a portfolio, there is no need to add all your photos to the website. Select the 10-15 best photos. Professional photographers upload several high-quality photos.

Keep in mind that you will need to pay from $100 to $1,200 for website maintenance every year. Make sure to include these expenses in the list when creating your real estate photography business plan.

13. Be Active on Social Media Platforms

promoting a real estate photography business

By using the best social media for photographers, you can improve your online presence and develop your business. Make sure to register on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Many people use these services for finding photos.

If you already have a large client base, some brands or real estate agencies might contact you directly and offer favorable cooperation terms. It will help you promote your brand and find new clients.

The Content Factory conducted research and concluded that companies spend between $200 and $350 per day on average to promote their businesses on social media platforms. It means that large companies are ready to spend as much as $6,000 or even $10,500 per month. Their annual budget ranges from $72,000 to $126,000.

Tip: If you regularly update your social media feeds, you can use in-built analytics tools to learn more about your target audience. Besides, your clients can provide feedback by liking your posts or leaving comments.

14. Provide Excellent Customer Service

Make sure to always keep your promises. If your price covers 25 photos, you need to send at least 25 images to your client. After scheduling a photo session, make sure to write down the date and arrive on time. It’s better to come early since it looks more professional.

People who want to sell a house or an apartment always ask real estate agents to list it quickly. In the real estate photography business, a quick turnaround time is crucial. You need to meet tight deadlines to ensure your clients’ satisfaction.

Besides, you need to provide great customer service and help your clients with solving any questions they might face. It will help you build long-term relationships with them.

Tip: You can also use a photography business app for scheduling your photo shoots. Such apps allow you to write down information about the number of photos that you need to take, etc. This way, you can save time and make your workflow more efficient.

15. Use Print Advertising

real estate photography business and promotion

Besides using online ads, make sure to use various types of traditional print ads as well. For instance, you can design and print photography business cards and give them to your potential clients.

To create business cards, you need to pay from $10 to $500. On average, people pay $194 for them. The total cost depends on the quality and design of a business card.

Bonus Tools

real estate photoshop actions

To get pro-level real estate photos, try using these handy actions and effects that will help you enhance your images. Take a look at this collection of professional Photoshop actions that allow you to quickly make your photos more eye-catching.

Use these actions to edit photos of buildings, office spaces, and interiors. They are compatible with the most recent versions of Photoshop, such as CC and CS6.

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