How to become a professional Real Estate photographer.

The real estate industry is booming, and as a real estate photographer, you could be poised to have a successful and lucrative career. According to Statista, the global real estate market is pegged to reach $14.6 billion in 2030. Fortunately, one of the top lucrative ways to benefit from this imminent growth is to dive into professional real estate photography. 

This article highlights all you need to be a successful real estate photographer. 

staircase in modern home

How much do real estate photographers make?

Real estate photographers make between $40,000 to $60,000 annually. However, how much you make at the end of every shoot depends mostly on location, clients’ needs, and the building’s worth (buildings with higher worth equal higher pay and vice versa). The rates you’re able to charge will also vary depending on what kind of services and extras you offer.

Front exterior of large home

Real estate photographer salary.

The average real estate photographer salary is $53,035 per year, according to Glassdoor. This is, however, a national median salary. Your annual salary can vary depending on the company you work for, your location, skills, certifications, and experience level. 

Your employment type also affects your salary. You are more likely to earn higher when you work full-time than part-time. Furthermore, you can increase your earning power by going the extra mile to facilitate the sale of real estate photos—a win-win situation for you and your employer. 

In all, real estate photography is a financially sustainable career and business.

living room in modern home

Demographic data from the State of the Photography Industry survey.

The Zenfolio and Format State of Photography Industry report conducted in March 2022 received responses from 3,398 photographers in 97 countries, including the US, UK, and Canada. Over 83% of the photographers revealed that they work with three or fewer types of clients, and 37% said they work with just one type. 

Most of their clients were individuals and small/medium businesses, while institutions and agencies comprised the rest. This further explains the opportunities available to real estate photographers. You can work with as many clients as possible and increase your earnings as long as you maintain excellent deliverables. 

Best real estate photography equipment.

Using the best real estate photography equipment can help you streamline your workflow and improve your service delivery a great deal but choosing the ideal tools can be challenging, especially if you are a beginner. 

Not to worry, we have outlined the necessary real estate photography gear. Let’s check them out.

dining area in home with large windows

1. Lenses.

Lenses are one of the most important tools you need as a real estate photographer. They bring life to your camera and depending on the lens choice you’ll be able to alter the real estate photos’ depth, quality, and perspective.

Wondering what lens for real estate photography you need? Well, your choice of lens mostly depends on your clients’ needs. Nonetheless, you can own as many lenses as possible with varying focal lengths, shapes, sizes, and functionalities—such as tilt-shift lenses, zoom lenses, and prime lenses. 

We recommend a wide-angle lens to start. You will often find yourself in properties that have small spaces that you need to capture. Wide-angle lenses will allow you to get more of the room in view and will make spaces feel larger. 

If you’re really getting serious about real estate and architectural photography you should look into tilt-shift lenses. These lenses allow you to adjust the plane of focus which is incredibly powerful, especially when working with so many vertical lines in your images. 

2. Camera.

A camera enables you to create images that serve as a walkthrough for your clients, showing them the necessary parts of a building. And to get the best out of your craft, it is important to have the best camera for real estate photography in your arsenal.

Here are different types of cameras at your disposal:

  • Mirrorless cameras.
  • Compact cameras.
  • DSLR cameras.
  • 360 cameras.
  • Medium format cameras.
  • Traditional film cameras.
  • Action cameras.

The most common in real estate photography is DSLR and mirrorless, but 360 cameras are becoming popular as they allow you to create a VR walkthrough experience. Drones are also very popular as they can give you an alternative perspective that will give you an edge over your competition. 

white kitchen in high end home

3. Tripod.

Having a tripod in your real estate photography gear simplifies your photo sessions and improves versatility, especially if you travel a lot or work long distances. It also helps you create consistent images, minimizing the risk of distortions from solely shooting handheld. 

You can position your camera on your tripod and click away. Meanwhile, when selecting the best tripod for real estate photography, consider the following:

  • Material.
  • Size and weight.
  • Compatibility.
  • Locks.
  • Height.
  • Sturdiness.
  • Durability.

A tripod will allow you to take HDR (high dynamic range) images by snapping several frames of the same scene with different exposure values. These are combined in post-production for an image that has more tonal range and detail in the highlights and shadows. 

4. Flash and lights.

Proper lighting helps you churn out appealing images. Likewise, using lights for real estate photography takes your photography game a notch higher. While natural light is the preferred option for most photographers, sometimes you may need a real estate photography flash to help illuminate a space and offer more clarity to your images. Understanding lighting will also allow you to control accent lighting to make a space feel warm and inviting. 

drone image of home with pool

5. Drone.

Drones have, over time, grown to become staples in real estate photography. They provide more perspectives and context to buildings, especially areas you can’t capture from ground level. You can create stunning exterior images of a building, highlighting the whole structure and its surrounding environment from above.  

Moreover, real estate agents often appreciate aerial images. They enable buyers to see the entirety of the building even without being present. Similarly, owning a drone is a great starting point if you want to expand your reach in real estate photography. 

Drones can get pricey, and you may be unable to purchase one or more if you are just starting your real estate photography career,  however, there are budget-friendly options out there. Getting your real estate photography business up and running first would be best before investing in a drone. 

There are two types of drones in the market: consumer and professional. These drones have varying cameras and use cases. 

Consumer drones are best for recreational purposes. If you are a sole real estate photographer and a beginner, consumer drones may be a good fit. 

On the other hand, professional drones are for commercial purposes. They’re the best fit for large-scale real estate photography businesses. 

Some drones come equipped with their own built-in camera, while others are heavy-duty drones that are capable of holding the weight of a DSLR or cinema camera for extremely high-quality images or cinematic video footage. 

Steps to start a real estate photography business.

The real estate photography business is a high-income venture. You can offer your services as a freelancer or work alongside realtors as an employee. Either way, starting your real estate photography business is not a walk in the park. 

Although it might seem easy – take photos of buildings (interior and exterior), sell to clients, and get paid – sustaining a real estate photography business is challenging. Plus, the industry is quite competitive and is impacted by the state of the economy. 

That is why we have curated a feasible step-by-step procedure to help you start your real estate photography business. Let’s cut to the chase and get right to it!

modern white building exterior

1. Create a business plan.

A business plan is a written document that serves as a road map for a potential venture. Likewise, your business plan should include the business’s objectives, scope, and modus operandi.

2. Get the required license.

Getting the required license authenticates your real estate photography business and shields you from sanctions from regulatory bodies. So, enquire about your state business laws and know what is attainable.

3. Purchase your toolkit.

As a beginner, opt for the basics, such as a camera, lens, flash, and tripod. And for your editing software, you can utilize any of our favorite Photoshop alternatives that are affordable.   

white living space with fireplace

4. Set your prices.

Prices are benchmarks for patronage. So, knowing how to price your photography to favor you and your clients is essential. You can set fixed prices or allow some flexibility in pricing. You have options to price your work on an hourly basis or invoice a flat rate for each property you shoot.

5. Create An Online Presence.

Your business needs an online presence to thrive in a digital world like ours. Create a real estate online portfolio website to showcase your services and increase your leads. 

How to take professional real estate photos.

Taking professional real estate photos for commercial purposes requires a lot of experience and skill. Consequently, this may be a challenging route for beginners with little or no experience. Notwithstanding, we have provided a road map to help you navigate the process of taking professional real estate photos.

white bathroom

1. Plan your photoshoot.

The first thing to do when you want to take professional real estate photos is to plan your activities. Schedule a day and time to set up the location, shoot the required areas (preferably during the day to get enough natural light from sunlight), edit, and deliver the photos. You may need to contact the estate agent to make sure the property has been staged properly first.  

2. Gather your photography kit.

You can only create real estate photos with your photography kit. So, after scheduling your photo session, the next thing to do is gather your kit and get to work. An ideal photography kit should include the essentials, such as a camera, flash, tripod, lenses, reflector, and, of course, memory cards.

3. Ensure good lighting.

A prominent feature of professional real estate photos is clarity. That is what good lighting helps you achieve. Whatever source of light you deem fit for your photo sessions (natural or artificial lights), ensure the space is well-lit, and there is an even distribution of light to all areas. Consider the time of day when you’re photographing. Always check the sunrise and sunset times to make sure you’ll have enough natural light to get the photos you need. Shooting at golden hour can give the images an inviting aesthetic and will really make the property pop during exterior shots. 

blue front porch

4. Experiment with angles.

One of the best ways to take professional real estate photos is to experiment with angles. Try out interesting, unusual angles to create unconventional images. For example, you can shoot a room from the stairways. 

Most importantly, while experimenting with angles, pay attention to details and ensure consistent camera settings.

5. Ensure good composition.

When taking professional real estate photos, it is important to prioritize good composition. It is what makes your photos stand out from the crowd. 

To ensure good composition, carefully frame your images to include relevant features that define the space. In other words, every photo should be complete and self-explanatory. A tilt-shift lens will be an essential tool in your gear bag and indispensable when fine-tuning your compositions. 

living room with large windows

6. Enhance the photos in post-production.

Real estate professional photos are held to very high standards because of the purposes they serve. Thus, you must take post-production (editing) as seriously as shooting. During post-production, you can select your best shots and enhance them using any of the best online photo editors. This is also when you would create composites, or stack images to create HDR photos.

Make money taking real estate photos.

Real estate photography is a legitimate money-making venture. And despite the challenging and competitive nature of the real estate market, you can be confident of earning handsomely using the steps we have provided in this article, coupled with hard work and dedication. 

There are also diverse opportunities for you to thrive, career and business-wise, whether you want to go full-time or part-time. Identify your selling point, explore the industry, talk about your expertise wherever you find yourself, and leverage various networks of real estate photographers.

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