Real Estate Photography – insights into pricing, budgets, goals, approaches
Ingredients of the overall package are certainly the photo quality, but also the photographer’s services and skills, reliability and availability.
Also, when comparing pricing you need to compare the not so obvious things like e.g. what usage rights are you getting? Is photo editing included? Sometimes it gets really confusing with some vendors.
I am offering highest possible transparency on pricing and services. For example, included for Architectural / Real Estate Photography is: HDR photography, Photoshop-enhancement, resizing (hi-res and web-use sets), photos are ready to use. And FULL USAGE RIGHTS! And if you want to discover advanced services, I can offer you add-ons and extras. Pricing details for several extras can already be found on my website or please inquire — again, full transparency.
Important to me is what my client’s goal and expectation is: I work on all projects with the same diligence, however, there are different types of projects and therefore the requirements are different.
It’s understood that a standard 120k town home has different requirements than a multi-million dollar luxury condo or estate.
One rule is the same for all levels of projects: the images have to be at least on the same quality level as the ones any professional competitor uses, or better. I go for the latter. Not matter what object you are marketing, your buyers get their first impression by looking at the images on the web or in a brochure and the realtor / builder / seller doesn’t want to lose their interest in the first minute. And if you look at some of the low-price-end photography portfolios of some folks you will easily understand why they offer so cheap… because they lack some basic skills in photo editing and the photos just don’t cut it for a high priced home. Photo editing is something essential, just because you can’t just take a photo from a wide angle lens and put it out without making corrections. It’s actually not just about the camera, it is about the understanding of some essential techniques.
What defines a quality image?
- a) the photo itself (=the photographer’s eye and experience + Photoshop work done on it)
- b) how the object / motif presents
If you take photos of a sub-standard, non-groomed house, nobody will later say ‘Wow!’ A kitchen with 15 year old appliances and a retro-look is what it is.
So, on the other hand, a photographer’s life is better with top-notch interiors / exteriors which are impressive by themselves. With great photos those objects can be visualized in a way the audience can ‘feel’ them and get emotional.
How to make your house look great
No matter if you have a normal home or a high-end home, there are a few things that should be done to make it look great or even greater:
- clean the house, wash the windows, declutter as much as possible. Ideally to a degree where it looks like you just moved in and there’s not much ‘stuff’ sitting in corners and on shelves, etc.
- As few personal items as possible. Make it appeal to a broad audience.
- nicely decorate the house, e.g. some flowers. Put a nice Espresso cup, saucer with a spoon and a cookie on a table. Make the home look warm and inviting — people should imagine to have a dinner or breakfast in this home.
- Your pet in the photo? Really up to personal preference: many potential buyers will be pet owners themselves and the will like that. Or decide to make it neutral and omit the pet. Up to you.
- Groom the exterior of the house as much as possible, e.g. remove leaves in fall, mow the lawn in summer, remove clutter at those sides of the house that will be photographed, and so on
- Ask the photographer about best lighting conditions / time of day
Beyond that: The photographer can try to shot only the nicest angles and can try to omit the ‘not so nice’ areas. Altogether that helps tremendously.
Pricing — insights, the low end, and when you need to invest a little bit more
A photographer cannot just ‘rush’ through the rooms and take a few shots – if that is the case you have the wrong photographer and / or you have fallen for the cheapest offer on the planet. Taking good photos requires also to take your time. There’s more involved than just hitting the camera’s button.
The more time a photographer has for a home the better — e.g. he can utilize different angles and lighting variations. Also post-processing does take some time: the more experienced the photographer is with Photoshop, the more he can do. If you see somewhere the really cheap photo package it might be because somebody is there just hitting the Auto button in Photoshop without knowing anything else — that adds to the low-end…. There’s certainly more to the entire process but for now I want to cut it short.
Calculating pricesProject costs can often be determined on fix-price basis which works for most single home or condo projects. Alternatively, if projects are more complex, by calculating on a ‘per-hour’ basis, e.g. client can book ‘half day’, day, or multiple-day projects.
My Real Estate Photography pricing starts roughly around 200 USD*
(* for the sake of correctness, I need to state that pricing can change any time without notice, please inquire for current pricing or check out the price list on this website — Anyway, I’ll be happy to provide you with a quote for your project).
However, on my website I am actually giving you the insights into pricing and my price list and I do not require you to call — actually may other photographers do require you to call because they apparently have no ‘real’ price list but instead make prices on-the-fly — you probably guess why that is done.
Check out more details on my Real Estate Photography & Pricing page.
‘Standard’ vs ‘Advanced’ projects?
Would it make sense to offer different levels of projects, like ‘standard’ or ‘advanced’ projects for different types of properties? Actually some real estate photographers do that.
I came to the conclusion that such differentiation makes no sense, at least not to me: I can only perform at the same quality level for all types of properties, I have ‘no switch’ for lower priced homes or luxury properties. I cannot apply Photoshop post-processing rules according to the value of the home. I apply the same diligence and skill-set to all projects — I am using the same quality tools for all types of projects.
I can only deliver photos at the highest level of quality — I can’t make differences.
Even the smallest project is not done in an hour! What’s involved: going to location, taking time to take the photos and deciding for angles that work, most often arrange some items in the home differently to make the shot better, going back and download, pre-select and post-process them, making them client-ready, resizing, uploading, etc… A one-hour shoot on location leads to may be 3 or 4 hours+ total project time. So, I don’t have an hourly rate of hundreds of dollars, actually it goes down dramatically the more time I need. I am not a ‘minute-counter’ on location and it is hard to predict if it’ll take one hour or two — if I feel that I can optimize the room in order to better present on a photo, I will take the time to do that.
Larger homes with more rooms and square footage certainly take longer to photograph and also to post-process.
That might make clear that the price can’t go lower – at least not for me. If you find a guy who does it for less then he works likely at the national minimum wage boundary but you might ask yourself why he does that and what you’ll get.
The photos I am taking and deliver are of highest quality and can be used for any purpose like website use and MLS listings, but also for high-end portfolios, brochures, etc.
More complex photo shoots: consultation and prep-work
Some complex projects require a little bit of pre-planning and special attention on scene. If you have a more complex high-end project in progress, let’s say you have requirements written down in a punch-list, e.g. certain detail shots, certain angles, certain requirements from your marketing or design folks, I am adding a in-depth consultation and prep fee to projects for the reason that I will go through your requirement list and may have questions or suggestions, and need extra time to make sure the project is done right the first time.
Imagine you are a builder and want to sell luxury condos in Boulder downtown and the pricing is at the top of the market then you need photos that warrant that ambition.
What’s the conclusion? You should give me all the input which is available, e.g. your goals, requirements, … otherwise, you might get some great photos but your designer is unhappy because certain motives are missing in the mix or the format (landscape / portrait) is not optimal. There’s no luxury object photo shooting out there which had cost just some petty cash.
Want to read some more about this topic? Here’s related information: Photography for Real Estate, Interior Designers, Staging Firms, Builders, and Architects
If you don’t have a designer at hand and need help or recommendations, I can help you with that.
Other stuff I can help with
My professional background is diverse and I could help you to solve some other related tasks: I am also a pro designer for web and print material, I do video work, I am a Photoshop expert and can make your photos what you want them to be, and I am a consultant and trainer for your technical and creative questions.