Real estate photography online retouch
Whether you’re already a working photographer looking to dive into a new niche
or you’re brand new to the world of photography, this guide is for you.
You likely have some burning questions you want to be answered before you
take the plunge, like how much do real estate photographers make a year,
is real estate photography profitable, and how do you figure out your
photography pricing? Should you get into real estate drone photography?
And what’s the best lens for real estate photography?
Lucky for you, we have everything you need to know on how to start a real
estate photography business right here. Let’s get started!
What Does Real Estate Photography Involve?
Realtor photography involves more than you might think.
You can venture into the world of house photography or commercial real
estate property. When you’re contemplating how to start a real estate
photography business, you have to be prepared to wear many hats.
In addition to taking photos, real estate photographers should be prepared
to spend additional time and resources on things like house staging,
photo editing, marketing, sales, and admin work.
If you’re used to taking your time when editing images, then you won’t have that luxury when shooting real estate properties.
Realtors usually need a quick turnaround time on the real estate photos, with
deadlines of 24 to 48 hours being most common. The main way to work in
the real estate photography business is by working alongside real estate
agents, photographing homes or commercial real estate for online
However, you may want to consider dipping your toes into real estate stock photos as well.
By making your real estate stock photos available online through resources
like Shutterstock, you can add an additional income source that is
entirely passive, meaning less work for you in the long run.
How Do Real Estate Photographers Price Their Work?
When setting your real estate photography pricing, make sure to consider the
work you’ll put in outside of the real estate photography itself, like
preparation, travel, and associated fees, and the amount of time it will
take you to edit the photos.
Of course, suppose you don’t already have all the necessary equipment for real estate photography. In that case, you’ll also need to factor in those expenses (like, say, if your camera doesn’t have the best lens for real estate photography).
Don’t underestimate the amount of time a particular job might take you,
either—for more advanced real estate photography. You may be asked to
make significant edits that can eat into your time and your profits. You
should also consider setting a higher rate for super-fast turnaround
At this point, you might think, “is real estate photography a good business?”
The answer will depend on a number of factors, including your working
style. You have to be willing to put yourself out there to find new
business opportunities and be flexible on your turnaround times.
Real estate photography rates will also vary depending on where you
live—unfortunately, a small-town real estate photographer just won’t be
able to charge as much as someone doing real estate photography in a big
However, always make sure you’re valuing your work by paying yourself a fair wage, regardless of where you’re located, your skills, and the equipment you’re using.
What Kind of Real Estate Photography Pricing Guidelines Should I Follow?
If you’re new to photography, start by researching the basics of pricing your photography.
You can also ask your local photography community to ask how much does a real estate photographer earns specific to your area. This can give you a good starting point and give you an idea that real estate photography can be lucrative.
As professional photographers, you have to consider the expenses you have
that allow you to edit photos and account for your costs. This may
include your camera equipment, insurance for your camera equipment,
editing software, your experience, your transportation, and marketing.
Like any creative business, real estate photography rates will differ based
on location and experience, but here are some basic tips you can follow.
Set Different Real Estate Photography Rates For Different Sized Homes
The larger the house, the more rooms, and features you’ll need to capture
and edit. It only makes sense that you charge based on the property
You might charge under $200 for homes 3,000 square feet and under and over $200 for 3,000 square feet and up.
Adjust Your Real Estate Photography Pricing Based on Time of Day
Sometimes it’s difficult to coordinate shooting times with the homeowners and the
real estate agent, which means you might be given unconventional hours
Shooting high-quality real estate photography at sunset or in the dark will
involve more equipment and editing than daytime shoots, so get all the
details before you provide your client with your final rate.
Higher-End Listings Mean Higher Rates
Suppose you’re photographing a home that will be listed at upwards of $1
million. In that case, your real estate photography pricing should
reflect that—your rates could jump from around the $200 mark to closer
to $500, depending on the value of the real estate listing.
Here are some real estate pricing photography tips:
- Some people also set their real estate photography rates based on
square footage, using a pricing formula of around nine cents per square
- If you do real estate drone photography, you can charge more than
regular photos, with one minute of professional video costing anywhere
from $200 to $400.
- Video tours of home interiors and individual rooms should cost
upwards of $1,000. When you set your real estate photography pricing,
base them on deliverables (i.e., 25 high-quality images, one minute of
drone video) rather than an hourly wage, and work the time your efforts
will take you into your pricing formula.
What Makes a Good Real Estate Image?
Your photos are selling homes, which means they have an important role in
highlighting the property’s best features. When it comes to home
photography, certain beginner’s mistakes can easily be avoided using these tips.
When it comes to home photography, there are certain beginner’s mistakes that can easily be avoided using these tips.
Always Use a Wide-Angle Lens
Have you ever noticed that quality real estate photography can make even the
tiniest of spaces look spacious? Well, the trick to that is a
wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens has a short focal length and allows
for more of the scene to be included in the image, enhancing the
Emphasize the Room’s Best Features
Every room will have one key feature you can focus on, whether it’s a
beautiful picture window or a rustic fireplace. What separates
professional real estate photography from “amateur hour” is to hone in
on what makes each room special and emphasize that to the viewer.
Avoid Bad Weather and Lighting
Yes, it can be inconvenient working around mother nature’s unpredictable schedule, but if it’s super-foggy or muddy out, your real estate photography may not end up looking as great as you hoped.
If you’re skilled in photo editing, you may be able to account for unforeseen weather forecasts, and you can turn cloudy skies into beautiful sunsets. As a skilled editor, this should also reflect in your real estate photographer pricing.
Take Advantage of New Technology
If you want your real estate photography to stand out, or if you’d like to make a bit more money, real estate drone photography can be a great option for you. Keep reading for more information on using camera drones to bring your real estate photography to a whole other level.
What is the Best Lens for Real Estate Photography?
If you’re new to photography, read up on the basics before buying your real estate photography equipment.
You’re probably wondering: what is the best lens for real estate photography? For starters, it’s all about that wide-angle lens. To get those super-wide real estate images that we’re so used to seeing, your lens should be in the range of 10-24mm.
While wide-angle is great for capturing the extent of the space and making a room look bigger than it is, you want to stay away from fisheye lenses as it adds too much distortion and looks unnatural.
You should also remember that you will probably be shooting indoor and outdoor real estate photography, so choose a camera setup that works with both. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some options for the best lens for real estate photography.
This Nikon lens can shoot at 16mm for interiors and go up to 35mm for exterior real estate photography.
The ultra-wide-angle lens and range of focal length from 17-40mm make this one of the best lenses for real estate photography.
- Sigma 1-24mm f/4 DG HSM
This lens is made for Canon cameras, and with zero distortion and fast focusing, it’s an ideal lens for real estate photography.
This is an ultra-wide tilt-shift lens, which allows for unique real estate photos that stand out.
What Does Real Estate Drone Photography Entail?
In addition to real estate pictures, video can be an extremely lucrative option when pursuing a career in real estate photography.
Dramatic, eye-catching visuals can be created using real estate drone photography, which can help a property stand out from the pack online.
Camera drones can be great for creating a virtual tour, moving through each room of a property so an online viewer can experience the space.
Drones can also create sweeping landscape shots and showcase a large property, but they won’t take the place of your trusty DSLR camera—when it comes to interior shots, your best bet is still traditional real estate photography.
If you’re interested in adding real estate drone photography to your repertoire, be aware that drones can be pricey, generally starting at about $1000 and going up from there.
Other than the cost of equipment, there are other factors that prevent people from becoming drone operators. To legally fly drones in the United States, you must first obtain an operator’s license. You need to spend some time learning how to use the drone before trying to fly it yourself. So it’s best to contact a real estate drone photographer if you’re just beginning.
- Drones will take longer to set up than traditional cameras and
require more equipment. You need to be ready for long video segments and
then cut them into shorter clips in post-production. To produce
high-quality videos, you’ll require a three-axis gimbal for holding your
camera steady as your drone moves around. It gives you more control
over your real-estate drone photography by allowing you to zoom and pan
- For real estate drone photography, be prepared for the weather
conditions to change throughout the day. Make sure to take multiple
shots of each perspective so that you don’t miss any potential views. If
you want to take good photos of the property, you should aim for a calm
day when there aren’t any strong winds.
- You should always be able to preprogram your drone before flying so
that you don’t have to make any last-minute adjustments midflight. Make
sure you’re careful when flying near things like wires and trees because
they could damage your drone and cost you a lot of money if something
Along with a general property photography contract, you’ll need a specific
drone-operating contract since there are additional legal requirements
for drone operators.
Real Estate Photography Tips
If you’re wondering how to take real estate pictures that impress, we’ve got you covered in that department too. Here’s a comprehensive list of tips to make your first few sessions go smoothly as a real estate photographer.
Create A Standard Shot List
Establishing a list of the photographs you’ll need for the home will save time when
you’re on location and help you cover all the assets you’ll deliver to your client.
Here’s an example of the shots that you may include in your shot list:
- Front exterior (at multiple angles and distances)
- Wide-angle shots of the bedrooms, family room, kitchen, and den
- Shots of feature rooms (laundry, pantry, garage, basement)
- Backyard/deck photos
Of course, every home will have its unique features, so ironing the required shots ahead of time with your clients will help speed your working process when it comes time to shoot and provides a seamless client experience working with you.
Walk Through The Home
When you arrive on site, get a feel for the space you’re working with before picking up your camera to shoot. You can take mental notes of the lighting, angles, and stand-out features of the homes you’d like to feature in your photographs.
If the homeowners are there, you can also ask if they can move objects, furniture, or declutter areas that may become a distraction in the image. The less editing work to remove clutter or other imperfections in the image, the better for your overall workflow.
Flash Photography in Real Estate
Often, you don’t have control over when you arrive at the shoot, and there’s no telling what kind of natural lighting the home has.
Flash photography may be required to get the rooms in the house looking their
best. The problem is those flash units on a camera can create harsh
lighting and shadows, which means you’ll have a lot of work
post-production to even out the vignetting (dark edges of the photo and a
We recommend you use a flashgun rather than your camera’s standard pop-up
flash so that you can move around its position. Try turning the flash on
the camera so that it’s facing a wall to reflect light. Having the
light bounce off the walls will create softer light for a more even
Lens distortion is an important factor to account for when doing any type of
photography. When it comes to real estate photography, where your
subjects are rooms with very crisp, angular lines, you may want to
correct the lens distortion to fix bent or unnatural lines and curves.
Luckily, programs like Adobe Lightroom make it easy to correct lens distortion
in a matter of clicks. To minimize how many adjustments you need to make
when editing, make sure you’re shooting your rooms straight on—use a
tripod and your camera’s leveling meter if you have to.
The Client Review Process
Being a good real estate photographer is more than capturing images of
beautiful spaces. You’ve got to manage your clients’ expectations too.
Once you’ve got the shots, it’s a good idea to review the photos with the
real estate agent while you’re on-site to avoid any unhappy clients and
having to revisit the property for missed shots.
You can count out the images from your setlist to ensure you’ve gotten the
complete list of promised shots and that all looks good in the
viewfinder before leaving the property.
As the hired creative professional, you can’t assume that everyone
understands your process or the photos you’ve taken. Make this time the
opportunity to explain why you like the particular shots and what they
can expect them to look like after you’re done editing them.
Where Can You Learn Real Estate Photography?
If you’re wondering “how do I become a real estate photographer?”
There’s no one place to get started.
There are plenty of real estate photography courses available online through
platforms like Udemy or Coursera that help you understand the basics of
technique and business aspects.
Additionally, seeking out online photography groups to learn from colleagues and get
practice is an excellent way to get real-life experience and practice
with your camera and equipment. Look for Facebook or Meetup groups to
connect with and learn from other photographers in your area.
What Kind of Background Do You Need to Run a Professional Real Estate Photography Business?
You don’t need to come from a particular background to become a successful
real estate photographer, but having experience as a photographer and
Running a real estate photography business is much more than just taking
professional real estate photos. You’re solving a problem for real
estate agents, and they’re going to you for professional expertise as
well as your deliverable photographs.
You’ll also need to set up an invoicing system, photography contracts and spend time and effort looking for new freelance clients. A big part of working as a real estate photographer is also developing a social media strategy to get your work seen.
How Do I Promote My Real Estate Photography Business?
The #1 way to promote your real estate photography business is to set up an amazing online photography portfolio.
This way, prospective clients can see all your real estate photos and
real estate drone photography in one place—along with your real estate photography pricing page.
A portfolio website as a photographer is a valuable tool for demonstrating your credibility and professionalism.
On top of this, a well-built website can also serve as a marketing tool
that finds you new clients. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key
component in helping to increase your web page’s visibility when users
conduct searches for local real estate photography services.
Don’t have one yet? No worries—just use a website builder to create one in minutes.
Make sure to pick an online portfolio website that offers beautiful templates
so your real estate photography website will make a strong, stylish
impression. Another great feature to keep an eye out for? A built-in online store, so clients can purchase your real estate photography packages immediately.
Congratulations—you now have all the information you need to start your very own real estate photography business! Soon, you’ll be right at home in the real
estate photography world and landing your dream clients.
Do you want more tips on photo editing?