6 Steps To Become a Real Estate Photographer

By Indeed Editorial Team

April 29, 2021

Photography of scenery and architecture can be artistic, enjoyable and profitable. Real estate photography is a genre of photography that, while specific and marketable, can still be creative and economically rewarding. Understanding more about real estate photography may help you decide if the career matches your skills and goals. In this article, we explain what a real estate photographer is, their job duties and how to become a real estate photographer.

What is a real estate photographer?

A real estate photographer is an artistic professional who takes favorable photos of commercial and residential property. They work with realtors who use the photos to sell properties online. Real estate photographers may also take photographs for model home builders, designers, home decorators or architects. Sometimes a photographer may choose to work with an assistant who helps with equipment and editing.

What does a real estate photographer do?

Real estate photography is more than showing up to a property and taking photos. Real estate photographers handle the pre-production and the post-production of their photos. It is their responsibility to produce flattering property photos, and that work may include pre-photo decoration and post-photo enhancement and editing. Their job duties include:

  • Staging houses, offices and other properties for photos

  • Planning a shot list of images to take

  • Photographing interior and exterior of property buildings

  • Positioning lighting as needed

  • Preparing equipment for sessions, including charging batteries, packing camera bag and clearing SD card

  • Maintaining camera and lighting equipment, which involves routine cleaning and bulb replacements

  • Editing photographs

  • Building a portfolio

  • Networking with realtors and other potential clients

How to become a real estate photographer

If you are considering a career in real estate photography, follow these steps to get started:

1. Study photography

Photographers have extensive knowledge of camera equipment, composition and lighting. They also have an artistic eye. You can develop these skills by attending college, university or art school and earning a bachelor's degree in fine arts with a focus in photography. Learning from professionals can help you understand best practices and guide you to become an expert. Having a degree may also make you more successful in your career and encourage confidence in your skills.

However, becoming a real estate photographer does not require a degree if you already have technical skills and natural talent. Some photographers are self-taught, and you can develop and improve your skills through practice.

Read more: What Can You Do With a Photography Degree?

2. Buy camera equipment

Real estate photography captures a static subject, so only basic photography gear is necessary. You can be successful with a good camera, lens, a tripod and proper lighting. Here's what to know about photography gear:

  • Cameras: Still photography, such as real estate, doesn't require an expensive camera with abundant features to produce quality photographs, so research which camera might work best for you and your budget. Two features you do need are multiple exposure bracketing and the ability to trigger a remote flash. A beginner digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera can provide these features and allow for interchangeable lenses, which can be helpful for shooting different-sized buildings and rooms.

  • Camera lens: A wide-angle lens allows you to fit more in the frame, which makes them ideal for real estate photography. Taking photos with a wide-angle lens makes the houses you photograph appear to be more spacious. Get a lens with a focal length between 10 and 24 millimeters or 16 and 35 millimeters for the best results.

  • Tripods: Two important features to consider when picking a tripod are its sturdiness and maximum extension height. A sturdy tripod that supports the weight of your camera body and lens gives stability as you shoot and ensures your photos don't come out blurry. Look for a tripod that reaches eye level so that you can use the camera viewfinder without bending over.

  • Lighting: Make use of beneficial natural lighting when you can, but when shooting indoors, use lighting tools such as a softbox and flash. A softbox can help fill shadows and illuminate a room without overexposure, while a flash can attach to your camera body or be used off-camera.

3. Learn your camera and take photos

After buying your equipment, take time to learn the efficient use of the features and settings of your camera. Get familiar with changing your lenses and flashes and adjusting your tripod. Practice taking photos of property specifics in different lights and angles.

When you have developed your style, share your work with friends to get feedback. After you feel confident in your practice, offer to take free photographs for a local realtor or contractor. They get free marketing photographs, and you can develop skills and experience, build your portfolio and develop a relationship with a potential client. Practicing with your gear can also help you develop a routine, which can make you a more efficient photographer.

4. Become proficient in editing software

Photographs may need adjustments and enhancements. Editing software allows you to crop, add light or exposure and sharpen your images. Learning how to edit photos can give your work a professional look, so mastering this type of software is crucial to getting and pleasing clients. Your editing proficiency level also determines the time post-processing takes. In real estate photography, clients often expect a quick turnaround time.

Read more: Key Photo Editing Job Responsibilities and Skills

5. Create a portfolio

A portfolio represents your best work and demonstrates your skills to potential clients. When you photograph a property, preserve your rights to the images so that you can feature them in your portfolio. Creating an online portfolio is a great way to make your work accessible. Online portfolios are often free and easy to build, with customizable templates and creative designs.

Read more: What Is a Work Portfolio? (Plus How To Build One)

6. Get clients

Begin building your client base by marketing your portfolio to any company that may require your service. Whenever you finish a job, ask the client for a reference so that you can have a strong verification of your skills to include with your portfolio.

When starting a client base, some real estate photographers offer an initial photographing service for free or at a discounted rate. This helps build trust with a client and adds professional work to your portfolio. Pricing your work can depend on the value of the property and your work experience.

Skills for a real estate photographer

Here are some common skills for successful real estate photographers:

  • Editing: Photographers may need to adjust photos by cropping, adding contrast or changing the exposure in the image, so it is essential to understand how to use editing software.

  • Scheduling: Photographers collaborate with clients about convenient times to photograph properties.

  • Computer skills: Creating and marketing your portfolio and editing photographs requires an extensive understanding of computers and relevant software.

  • Communication: Good speaking, listening and writing skills are important for networking with potential clients.

  • Time management: Real estate photography often involves meeting deadlines in a short amount of time. Photographers are responsible for managing the time spent photographing a property, editing photos and communicating with clients.

  • Business management: Working as a real estate photographer is like running a business. Photographers often need to market themselves, find clients and handle their finances.

Read more: Photographer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Real estate photographer salary

Photographers make an average of $42,940 per year in the United States. Real estate photographers may be able to earn more depending on where they work and who they work with. Photographs of high-end real estate might earn more than photographs of single-family homes, for example. Real estate photographers can also increase their salary by increasing the number of properties they photograph.

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