Real Estate Photography - Different Price/Quality Levels of photos

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by aaron4osu, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. I’m curious how many real estate photographers offers different quality levels of photos and if so how they differentiate them? For example, with a 24 photo package it seems like it would be a good idea to offer 4 to 6 “magazine” quality shots for the most important areas like kitchen, master bed, exterior, pool, etc… For me these would be shot using 3 to 5 flash/umbrella kits where necessary. Maybe some extra time in post to make them perfect. Then, for the rest of the photos just use ambient light and maybe a single flash/umbrella and less time in post.

    I also offer Matterport, where the scans are decent and usable, but in most instances not comparable to a “magazine” quality shot due to lighting and the fact it needs to be shot from about 5’ high which is not optimal in many instances.
  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    We have had several Real Estate Photography questions over the years: one commonality that I have noticed is that the business model for Real Estate Photography seems to be quite area dependent. So telling us where are you working would be good.

    For your consideration, in Sydney AUS, the Real Estate Photographers that I know and who are making some money, work exclusively at the higher end of the property market and contract directly to Real Estate Agents supplying them with a package of key shots which is predicated solely by the Images' USAGE. For example the shoot might be to supply images for point of inspection handouts, three for web advertising and a set of ten slide show at off site auction.

    Typically all the interior shots would be flash fill to balance the outside ambient light and not one would be "not comparable to a “magazine” quality shot due to lighting and the fact it needs to be shot from about 5’ high which is not optimal in many instances."

    Quite a few are also now shooting Video for Virtual Tours.

    Typically, in Sydney, Real Estate Agents will shoot their own Stills for the majority of Domestic Residences which go to sale.

  3. You should always aim to deliver the best professional result as the standard when offering different pricing packages for the same service. The least expensive or most affordable option shouldn't be a watered down or "lesser" version of the more expensive one. Rather, the more expensive package should add something extra on top (the value proposition) of what's already expected to be professional quality in the standard package. You can get professional interior shots with multiple strobes, one strobe, or no strobes and ambient light. One large aspect of a magazine quality interior shot is not so much in using this technique vs that technique (most interior magazines are a combination of all three) but in the home staging and in the prepping and decluttering of the room before the picture is taken.

    I wouldn't offer different pricing packages for the same property. That seems to unnecessarily overcomplicate things for both you and the real estate agent. If you do both normal homes and ultra expensive ones having a higher priced package with multiple strobes for the latter ones makes sense when it's marketed to those agents and sellers (since they're likely large properties that you're going to spend longer time with anyway, the value proposition of showing up there with multiple strobes and stands, etc is as much about the intangible or emotional features than about the tangible ones). But if you only do the ultra-expensive homes then communicating that you're going to spend your best effort on some pictures but not on others and that the other pictures will therefore be less expensive isn't exactly the best way to communicate and give value for the customer.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    I've always used a simple pricing model, percentage of sales price. Percentages are how real estate agents work, and generally speaking, correspond to the amount of effort put in. I never once had pushback on a price once they understood how it was being done.

    I took lighting to the first real estate job I did. However, I found that all agents cared about, even with multi-million dollar homes, was that the photos looked bright and cheery and showed features of interest, so I dropped the lighting. Never heard about it again. What I did hear about, similar to what William is pointing out, is additional services. Video and 360 tours were the most commonly requested.
    William Michael likes this.
  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member


    Thank you.

  6. When asked what I charge for interior and exterior photography I always say "As much as possible".
    It is a joke but not much of one as we all try to charge as much as possible.
    The real issue is that we all compare ourselves (some more, some less) to others. What some guy charges is often the benchmark for what we think we should charge.

    IMO offering different levels of quality is a destructive move in that you are implicitly saying "I know how to make this better but you are cheap so I will cr@pify this photo".

    Offer the same quality but vary the quantity. E.G. offer a basic shoot at $x with y number of images delivered. Then offer higher volumes for additional cost.

    It costs you almost the same amount of time to make poor photos than it does to make good ones. The problem is markets vary widely and some markets will not support anything but the most basic price points.

    I am fortunate that I have spent time in the business building up a client base that wants what I make. For me, many of the jobs I get are interesting buildings that make me happy to photograph. Sometimes not so much. However, I charge a basic fee and deliver a set number of images. I always try to make the images "magazine quality" as the properties are often published.
    Some are residences featured in magazines or for sale. Others are commercial businesses using the images in a promotional campaign.
    I also get a lot of follow on sales from vendors and contractors.

    Yes, it takes time to get those clients but they wont look at you if your portfolio has indifferent photos commissioned by a cheap realtor.
    My first jobs were all starter homes being marketed by a cheap developer. I was not too experienced but I killed myself learning lighting, composition and PP. Those early jobs got me referrals that still make money for me today.

    I do not shoot video or virtual tours. I explain that I spent 30 years learning still photography to offer the quality they want. I am not about to wave a camera around and make poor video for them. If they have a quality project they need to hire a quality video outfit.

    If you start as the cheap guy it is very hard to be the expensive guy.
  7. OK, but there are small condos and large mansions, and the needs, as well as the budgets, are different.

    You could charge per room, which seems somewhat fair, as more rooms mean more work.

    You could charge by the hour for the shoot, and separate prices for prints, or other types of products.

    If clients can't afford it, they won't pay it.
  8. We charge base on square footage. My partner has been doing real estate for a few years, I just started this past February. As Spearhead said, a lot of agents just want bright photos. There are a couple of other real estate photographers in the area and we are all priced the same, which is a lot less than a lot of the rest of the country. Our average shoot is $XX (1500 - 2500 sq ft). That includes a couple of aerial photos, interior, and exterior.

    We have offered higher-end photo shoots and no one purchased them. Agents have expressed interest in video walk-throughs. I just purchased a DJI OSMO+ to start offering walk-throughs. I was going to go the 3-axis gimbal and a DSLR but that seemed overkill since we are only going to charge $XX per video.

  9. Not sure why you have edited out your prices which you mentioned but they are way too low. I mean, have some pride and confidence in the value you’re offering (assuming what you're offering is of a professional quality).

    Many real estate agents still need to be educated that their own made pictures with their phones aren’t going to cut it anymore in 2018 for promoting real estate in any price market. Remember that the agents are not only selling to potential home buyers but also to the home sellers which are their direct clients after all and an agent who has professional photography for their home listings will only benefit from the professional image that they will portray to their clients. And those agents that are not willing to pay a fair price for professional photography and that can’t be bothered with displaying a professional image for their own real estate business? Well f$*k them the market will take care of them eventually… As the photographer for the agents real estate, you're in the B2B and not the B2C market and If you want to be paid professionally then you have to deal with professionals only.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018

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