Being in the real estate business, particularly raw land. We have connected with several photographers who freelance and make good money for a couple hours of work. Same goes with homes, real estate photographers with connections to real estate offices can make a great living. In Turn, if you are already practicing photography, you probably understand making money doing it is the hardest part. Very few photographers make a living at it, that's the big truth. But interestingly, real estate photography has room for growth and can be lucrative. If you take on these additional skills we will talk about here. It could be the start of a great career for you.
How to Become a Real Estate Photographer
1. Adjust your Skill Set - Most currently in photography for a hobby probably haven't just taken pictures of homes or land. Artistically photographers tend to concentrate on portrait, landscape, wildlife, street photography or avenues like this. So, start adjusting your skill set, start exploring what looks best when shooting inside and outside a home. Figure out lenses, editing, lighting and make it artistic. The idea is to present the home in an attractive manor, even if it's not the nicest home you've ever seen. This means making it look roomy, placing attention to the best parts of the home, landscape and shooting at different times of day (sunrise & sunset). . The pictures can later be used for your portfolio and website.
2. Equipment - If you have the drive and are serious about getting into the business, equipment will make you stand out. Sites like Zillow or highly regarded real estate companies are using 3D tours. People still want to see still prints, but a lot of agencies are willing to pay for 3D tour files of course.
- Virtual Tours Cheaply - A website, HomeJab is an affordable way to make a virtual tour which cuts out the cost of having to invest in the specialized camera. Most agents don't have the time or want to bother with it. But if you learn to use this software using your static images. Then you can add 3D virtual tours to your list of products you offer.
- Specialized 360 cameras - Ranging between $100 to $5000 dollars, these cameras are simply placed in a single room and left to do their job. Following the instructions you would move the camera room to room and stitch together images for the tour. Some examples of these cameras are the Insta360 One X, GoPro Fusion and Ultracker Aleta S2C. Of course there are way more and you can check Amazon or a camera store to find more.
- Drone Photography - Drone videos are amazing to watch, give people a great idea of the neighborhood, exterior of home, views around it and even the general area or nearby attractions. They can be a great addition to a real estate photography business. This is especially true with raw land and we will cover later. Be aware however, there are restrictions and things to comply with before just buying a drone and soaring it into the air.
These are some basic concepts of equipment you could add on. There are several things and creative aspects you take on, after all photography is an art and taking photos of homes should not be considered boring or uncreative.
Post Processing - If you are already familiar with DSLR photography, then you probably shoot RAW and post process using software. The same thing should be done with real estate to step ahead of the game. If you are out taking pictures of a 2 million dollar home, would you really just want to give them some basic stock auto photos? The answer is no, not if you want to stand out and make a living doing this.
In photography, a lot of the magic is in post processing. Becoming familiar and good with something like Adobe Lightroom will transform your images. Anyone average Joe can take pictures of a home or the rooms, but have you noticed in family photos the lighting is just kinda dark, spooky or weird colors. Your job, as a photographer is to show the home in its absolute best state. With post processing, you are able to adjust lighting and give the home a bright look.
Post processing also lets you add effects, vignette or even a slight dreamy look to photos. If you have seen more expensive homes on Zillow, you may notice some have a bright dreamy look to it. It's just post processing and being creative, but having a portfolio like this will impress the company you are trying to work with. Be aware, the learning curve of Lightroom can be a bit complicated if you're new. With a few YouTube videos and downloading presets, you can speed this process up. Once you find the look you want, save it as a preset. This will keep all photo sets looking uniform and speed up your post processing going forward
Videos - Another great thing to add on your list of skills is creating video tours. These can just be a showcase of the homes photos with music. But doing it professionally is important. Getting a video processing software like apple iMovie or Windows movie maker is a good start. Just using effects between slides and adding music will change the look of a basic video showing just plain pictures. The point is, master your skill and have what it takes to stand out from the rest.
Becoming a Specialist - Sometimes it's a good thing to focus on any job you can get. But at times, you may want to become a specialist in a specific style of real estate. Here are a few you can think about.
- Raw Land - If you live in an area with a lot of raw land, farms and cattle. This may be a good one for you. You would need a good 4x4, a dog in the passenger seat, GPS, drone and a camera. Being in the land business as we are, we call people all the time for this. It's very common because land companies buy all over the country but only live in one state. So companies like ours need eyes out there.
- Luxury homes - If you have the presentation and the style to impress this group then you could make a great living. Real estate agents will pay very nicely if they know you put absolutely pro quality out every time. Why? Because they can get more people in the door and sell the home fast. Especially when the homes are in the million range and your pictures helped sell it.
- Commercial - Commercial real estate usually has specialized agents that mainly focus on just Commercial real estate. These could be anything from office space units, production plants, industrial zones and just about anything else relating to these. Due to the size and industry, a drone, camera and good video editing would be the way to go. Of course take your own spin on it!
- Developers - Developers could be partners, families or a giant corporation. But they have land and a plan to make something of it. Developers will often have animated renderings done of what the future of the project will look like. But, they also have land which would need drones and usually model homes, apartments or offices. While a development company might not pay all the bills, work with 30 or 40 of them and it will.
These are just ideas, there are so many avenues to go in for these things. What about remodeling companies? What about construction companies? What about local stores. This is why marketing is important, if you don't know that or give up on that, it could become discouraging
Marketing Yourself - How will anyone know you, your work or that you even want to do the job if you don't work on marketing. Here some very key things to do when it comes to marketing yourself.
- Have a quality website with your portfolio, rates and contact
- Build your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles
- Cold call or visit prospective clients.
- Make Business cards
- Learn Google Ads
- Learn Facebook Ads
- Try ActiveRain to Reach agents
- Comb your area for agents
- Guest post articles on Real Estate Sites
Marketing is not easy, it can take time to get off the ground and feel like an endless waste of time for a while. But the ones who make it, stay with it and end up making a living. Think of it this way, when you work a 9 to 5 job, you do work those hours, right? Well working for yourself is the same thing, except the check isn't there always and you spend time doing it. That's the frustrating part! But once it comes together, it should become quite rewarding and give you the drive to keep growing it.