How to Hire a Real Estate Photographer: Expert Tips for Agents
By Matthew Bushery
About Agent Basics
Your wedding day. Your kids’ graduations. Family reunions. There are plenty of reasons to hire a professional photographer in your personal life. But there are also many reasons to hire a seasoned, reputable photographer to take shots of your listings for your real estate website.
An expert photographer can make the homes you represent look as appealing as possible to buyers and, ultimately, improve your real estate lead generation efforts. But the process of finding and eventually hiring the right real estate photographer means taking several factors into consideration, and price, experience, reviews, and licensing are chief among them.
Continue reading to learn not only how to hire a photographer, but also how to get the best results from their shoots and build a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship with them.
Search online for suitable real estate photographer candidates.
You can certainly take your own real estate headshot and find countless great photos for your real estate website online, but when it comes to getting shots of your listings, hiring a veteran architectural photographer is the way to go.
Look at other agents’ sites to see which (if any) have great real estate photography that makes their listings look attractive. If you find one or two with great listing shots, look for a photo credit on their websites. Reach out to the photographer(s) credited to see if they can take photos for your real estate listings as well.
Another option — and one that’s arguably a more viable solution — is to do some research online to find real estate photography companies and networks that top photographers are involved with. There are numerous online communities where the best of the best in all facets of professional photography interact, including Dribbble, Obeo, CirclePix, and Real Estate Photographers of America & International. Identify candidates and services that fit your budget and needs.
“The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?”
— Edward Weston
Regarding price, professional photographers (real estate and other) have various expenses associated with their work. Licensing fees, for instance, are implemented by just about every pro photographer. Though your photographer may give you digital files and print versions of your listings, they typically still own the copyright to the work, so speak with anyone you’re interested in hiring about their licensing agreement and what you are permitted to do with the photos they take.
Similarly, make sure you’re crystal clear on both the final price of a photo shoot and the post-production process. Photographers may charge for travel or extra time spent on shoots, so get all of the pricing details out in the open before signing them on to take your real estate photos. Additionally, make sure any photographer you work with takes care of the photo editing after the fact. You’re paying them for more than just snapping pictures: They need to take care of adjusting and cleaning up your listing photos to make them look perfect.
Tell your photographer exactly what you want for your photos.
When you finally hire a real estate photographer, make a comprehensive list of everything you want them to shoot at your listings. For example, if there are specific areas of the interior and exterior, or amenities in and around the property you want highlighted, provide those details to your photographer. This will prevent you from getting a final product you’re unhappy with and give your photographer a clear notion of what you want for your photos’ style.
A great way to determine what you want to achieve with your listing photos is to walk through each room to see what’s worthy of spotlighting on your real estate website. Here are the primary areas to check out in each home:
- The kitchen: Things like a standalone island, modern range, and spacious counter area are definitely worthy features to highlight in your real estate photos.
- The bedrooms: From the master bedroom to the smaller bedrooms, look for any attributes that stand out, like floor-to-ceiling windows or lots of closet space.
- The living room: Homeowners spend a great deal of time in their living rooms, so the more comfortable you can make these appear in photos, the better.
- The basement: For listings with finished basements, make them appealing to both kids, who could use them as playrooms, and adults, who could use them for entertainment.
- The backyard: Size plays a big role in how you can showcase your listings’ backyards. Find out what makes each unique (e.g. in-ground pool, lots of space) and accentuate those features.
- The front yard: Similar to the backyard, play up any positive aesthetic characteristics in the front of the house, like a newly paved driveway or beautiful flower bed.
- The garage: Home buyers typically want one area of their home for storage, so make garages look as spacious and organized as possible.
Make sure you’re happy with their real estate photo edits.
After providing in-depth guidance to the real estate photographer you hired, you have two choices: Join them on the shoot at one or more of your listings, or trust them to get the job done on their own. There is no wrong choice here. Attend the shoot and you can add more insights into your real estate photo preferences along the way. Allow them to complete the task alone and you can save time and attend to other real estate marketing tasks (perhaps write copy for the listings your photographer is shooting).
Once the assignment is complete, ensure your photographer knows which shots you’re a fan of and which to ditch. Then, they can meticulously edit each one. Make sure they know the timeline needed for getting these edits back. You don’t want to wait around for weeks to get the final pictures, so set a specific deadline for them.
Closely analyze each picture they send to you once they’ve completed edits for two things:
- 1) If they highlighted the areas of each home and surrounding property that you initially requested
- 2) If they overdid it, so to speak, with edits, like Photoshopping pictures too much (which can get you in deep water with your MLS)
Don’t hold back if you notice an egregious editing mistake or aren’t 100% happy with the final product. Architectural photographers get paid handsomely to take these shots and provide everything real estate agents need to market their listings as best they can.
Evaluate whether it’s worth hiring the photographer again.
As you’ll learn over the years working as a real estate agent, not every business relationship will work out. Ask yourself these questions to gauge if you should hire your photographer again:
- Were the photos they took appealing to your core audience?
- Did they abide by your photography preferences?
- Did they complete their assignment in a timely fashion?
- Were they easy to work with?
- Did they edit the photos to your satisfaction?
- Was their pricing model everything you expected?
Examine every aspect of your relationship with the real estate photography professional you hired and weigh the pros and cons. The good news is, if you weren’t sold on their performance, you can go back to the well and bring in other candidates from the aforementioned resources until you find the right one.
Read our Academy post 5 Killer Sources For Beautiful Royalty-Free Real Estate Photos Online to get other great shots for your real estate website.
Have you hired a photographer before to get shots for your real estate marketing? Share your experience with us in the comments below!
Published on October 14, 2014
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.