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Every real estate photographer’s costs will vary from city to city however there are some basic principles which you must incorporate into your personal business calculations. Being self employed is extremely liberating and an exciting way to earn a living but it also takes discipline, good business practices and plenty of forward thinking. You can also work as a contractor for a realtors and rental companies
Creating a feasible pricing template for your work is vital to ensure that you are valuing your work appropriately in a fair and profitable way. Real estate photography is a lucrative sector of the professional photography world to work in however there are a great number of factors that you need to take into consideration when pricing your work.
Factors that You Need to Include in Your Real Estate Pricing Template.
- Parking: Parking costs can very quickly add up and depending on where you are living and working this is a major consideration that needs to be factored into your calculations. Cities such as Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles can have extremely expensive parking and you need to make sure you get these costs covered. Look up the area’s parking costs before you send a quote for a new job and make sure this is reflected in your estimate.
- The Length of Time of the Shoot vs The Size of the Property: There are two main ways that a real estate photographer can approach costing a project. They can base their price on the amount of time that the shoot takes them which will be a ‘per hour rate’. However, it is more common in real estate photography to price the shoot based on the square foot size of the property. For a small apartment, a shoot might start at about $200 and raise up to $500+ for a larger suburban property. For luxury condos in an exclusive neighborhood a freelancer can charge anything from $2000 and upwards. There are advantages to both pricing models, either per hour or per square foot, but in the end it will be up to you to decide which route you will take.
- The Number of Images: The number of photographs that your client requires should be incorporated into your pricing model. Are you being asked to produce a full brochure for the property or just a few shots for an online ad? The number of images you take will need to be incorporated into your pricing for a job.
- Residential vs Commercial and Retail: Residential property includes homes, apartments and condos whereas commercial, or retail, property refers to business properties. As a real estate photographer you can choose to work in either sector of the property market or, if you are more versatile, both. Your pricing templates may vary depending on the sector that you are working in. Many commercial properties may be extremely large compared to the average residential property and so you will certainly want to take account of this in your pricing structure. You can approach this by charging per square foot but you can also charge a slightly higher rate in commercial work. To find out the market price for commercial and retail real estate photography you can contact fellow photographers, check listings for other people’s services or ask a realtor in your area. Prices will vary depending on your location.
- Do You Need to Style the Shot: Are you going to style the interior of the rooms to make them look more appealing? This can include bringing ‘props’ with you such as flowers in vases, attractive cushions, rugs and throws. You can rearrange the furniture to create powerful leading lines and improve perspectives. This can add hugely to the finished result and consequently you can charge more in your pricing model for the service.
- Drone Photography: Making use of the latest technology, including drone photography can give you superb results. In real estate photography, particularly for properties with a nice garden or great features on the exterior, employing a drone to get elevated shots can give you unique angles on the property which can really help to drive buyers to the open day. If you can include drone photography in your real estate photography packages you can rightly charge more for your services than competitors that cannot offer this stylish extra.
- Time of Day: The rates for working during the day will usually be lower than at night. Many clients may want to have photos from the day as well as at twilight, an increasingly popular trend in real estate photography. Twilight shots are especially advised if the property has boutique lighting around the exterior which can be a value adding feature for the sale. Usually, if you have to return again at night to take twilight or night time shots then you can charge more. If you were charging per hour you could charge an extra 50-100% of your day time rate. Remember to include parking, fees for which can be higher in some places at night.
- Other Factors to Consider: You should also consider other factors like the distance you have to travel to get to the job site, any wages or fees that you have to pay and rental fees if any for the equipment.
Remember to Include Your Projected Marketing Plans in Your Pricing Structure.
It’s important for you to calculate potential future costs for all aspects of your business, including marketing, in your pricing structure. You might be planning to print up flyers to advertise your services in your local area, put on a free drinks event to meet realtors in your city or to pay for targeted online advertising. All of these should be included in your costs so that you can always stay on top of payments which help your business thrive into the future.
These initial outlays will pay for themselves many times over if they are practiced successfully and so preparing your budget going forward makes good business sense. That said however, these costs shouldn’t be paid out of your own pocket if you can help it, and so it might be better to include them in your current pricing structure.
Getting Your Pricing Structure Correct is Important in Real Estate Photography.
As a real estate photographer you need to price your work at its true value, which will often be higher than you think. Always gauge your rates against other working photographers in your industry and don’t charge below what they do, unless you are doing a special offer to gain more clients.
Try to include all the factors that are associated with the job to create your photography pricing template. This may vary from job to job, depending on factors such as parking fees or the time of day, the use of elevated shots or if it’s a commercial property.
You Can Offer Packages.
When you are marketing your prices you can put together a list which offers a series of packages. You might have 3 packages for residential properties that included different options. For example in your premier package you might include twilight shots of the exterior, as well as more images of the property and drone photography. For your standard package you might include only a basic number of photos of the property.
Try to Stand Out with Extras at the Beginning of Your Career.
If you are starting out in the real estate photography industry, one of the most lucrative forms of freelance photography, then study what your competition is doing and try to offer something a little better. This will help you attract clients and the extras that you offer will help to make up for your lack of experience in the field.
What other factors do you consider before pricing a job?