How to Get Into Real Estate Photography

Do you want to learn how to make money with real estate photography? We’ve got all the answers about what it takes to do professional real estate photography.


So you’re considering a career in real estate photography. Well, you probably have some burning questions you want answered before you take the plunge, like how much do real estate photographers make, anyway, and how do you figure out your real estate 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 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. In addition to just taking photos, real estate photographers should be prepared to spend additional time and resource on things like house prep, photo editing, and admin work.

If you’re used to taking your time editing photos (which can often take longer than the photoshoot itself), be aware that you won’t have that luxury with real estate photography. 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 listings.

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 Does Real Estate Photography Pricing Work?

If you’re thinking about starting a career in realtor pictures, you’ll definitely need to know how much to charge for real estate photography! 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, if you don’t already have all the necessary equipment for real estate photography, you’ll also need to factor in those expenses (like, say, if you 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 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 city. However, always make sure you’re valuing your own work by paying yourself a fair wage, regardless of where you’re located.

What Kind of Real Estate Photography Pricing Guidelines Should I Follow?

So, how much do real estate photographers charge? If you’re new to photography, start by researching the basics of pricing your photography. Like any artistic business, real estate photography rates will differ based on factors like location and experience, but here are some basic tips you can follow.

Set Different Real Estate Photography Rates For Different Sized Homes

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 Rates Based on Time of Day

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

If you’re photographing a home that will be listed at upwards of $1 million, 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.

Some people also set their real estate photography rates based on square footage, using a pricing formula of around nine cents per square foot.

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?

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 vast and spacious? Well, the trick to that is a wide-angle lens. We’ll talk in more detail about the best lens for real estate photography below.

Emphasize the Room’s Best Features

Every room will have one key feature you can focus in on, whether it’s a beautiful picture window or a rustic fireplace. What separates professional real estate photography from amateur hour is the ability 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 sometimes unpredictable schedule, but if it’s super-foggy or muddy out, your real estate photography may not end up looking as good as you might like! However, if you’re good with photo editing, you can use masking techniques to turn a cloudy sky into a beautiful sunset.

Take Advantage of New Technology

If you really 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 totally 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. In order 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, stay away from fisheye lenses! 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 makes this one of the best lenses for real estate photography.

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. There are other barriers to becoming a drone operator, too. In the US, you’ll need to get an operator’s certificate in order to operate a drone for real estate photography, even before you start charging for your services. It will also take time to learn to operate the drone, so it’s a good idea to connect with a real estate drone photography professional when you’re first starting out.

Drone photography will also be more time-consuming and expensive than regular real estate photography. Be prepared to film long segments of video, and cut it down to more easily digested shots in post-production. In order to create high-quality video, you’ll need a 3-axis gimbal to hold your camera in place as your drone flies around. This allows more control over your real estate drone photography, like zooming and panning your shot.

Since real estate drone photography is more weather-dependent, make sure to get multiple shots of the perspectives you need most, just in case the first one doesn’t turn out. You should aim to shoot your real estate drone photography on a windless day, and stay close to the ground to avoid wind gusts. Your drone should come with flight control software, which you can use to map out your flight plan in advance, rather than making those decisions as you go. Be careful around things like wires and trees, which could destroy your drone and end up costing you a lot of money. Along with a general contract for property photography, you’ll need a specific drone-operating contract, since there are additional legal requirements for drone operators.

What Kind of Background Do You Need to Run a Professional Real Estate Photography Business?

We’ve said it before, but running a real estate photography business is more than just taking professional real estate photos. You’ll also need to set up an invoicing system, 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.

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.

Looking to book more photography clients? Create a stunning photography portfolio website to wow your clients with beautiful galleries and deliver your client work with our powerful priviate proofing tool. Start your 14 day trial with Format today, no credit card required.

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.

Want more tips on making money with photography?
How to Start a Successful Photography Business
10 Ways to Promote Your Portrait Photography Business
The Ultimate Photography Hashtag Cheat Sheet