Real Estate Photography

This is a discussion on Real Estate Photography within the Photography Discussion forums, part of the PHOTO FORUM category; I was wondering if anyone had experience shooting the interiors of houses for real estate agencies. 1) If you have, what do you charge for ...


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  1. #1
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    I was wondering if anyone had experience shooting the interiors of houses for real estate agencies.

    1) If you have, what do you charge for this kind of service..per room? per hour?

    2) What kind of lighting would you use?

    3) Can you share the settings that would be good for this kind of work?





  • #2
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    I've tried to get work from real estate agents before and it's very difficult. Every agent that I ever talked is, in a sense, a small business with an affiliation to the office. This means that many expenses are borne by the agent not the office so you have to sell your services to each individual agent. The price of your services will come out of their bottomline, so you have to convince them that what you offer will sell more, faster otherwise they'll see it as an unnecessary expense.

    Thierry DeHove (hope I got that right), who posts to the panorama forum, shoots very high-end mansions and luxury boats. In that market, there may be some opportunity. (Thierry recently had an image published on the cover of Conde Naste.)

    I've seen a few statements here and there that the office secretary pops out to take the photos. Many photos are taken with a cell phone or a P&S. Often, the photos are provided by the owner, after all, it's the owner that wants it to sell.

    Count at least 2 hours for a real estate shoot; an hour for travel time and other logistics, an hour to set-up/shoot/take-down, and one hour of computer processing time. In all likelihood this is an underestimate of the time involved. How much is half of a day of your time worth ? To do interiors "correctly" you'll need several remote flashes, light stands, reflectors, and triggers. How much investment in equipment will this take ?

    Try to talk to some real estate offices before you go very far with the idea. The pricing is irrelevant if no one wants the service. And an agent or their delegate will still have to go with you because they won't give you access. At the least, to get unaccompanied access, I think you'll need to be bonded.

    I mostly see why things won't work so pay me no heed.
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  • #3
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    I've done this before... charging either an hourly or a day rate.

    I replace the lightbulbs in the room with small, daylight balanced compact flourescents, and then shoot bracketed sets for exposure blending.


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    behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.
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  • #4
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    Good tip Dane

  • #5
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    I am doing real estate now. I charge $99.95 per job with a ten image limit within four zip codes with anything beyond that at increased prices. They receive both high (300ppi) and low(74ppi) resolution files by email. I strive to make it a package deal so they always know, without asking, what it will cost. I find the time spent on location pretty much evens out. Some are a pain in the a** while the majority are cake and the big ones are actually easier - faster than the cracker boxes. Having the easy ones subsidize the pains lets me earn different amounts while giving the client a firm price. This, IMHO, is a critical factor, the Realtor knows the price going in.

    I almost always use available light. I tun on every light in the house and shoot. Of course this requires a sturdy tripod and cable release but most serious photographers already own those. Ah, the secret is HDR. I shoot a three exposure HDR series on EVERYTHING and use it only rarely but when it saves your butt, it's worth it. Most times I use a straight exposure and maybe mask in a window. Some shots just won't work with HDR so I recently bought an Alien Bee 800 strobe which I have yet to use on a setting of more than 1/8 power for shadow fill using an orange gel for color balance to tungsten.

    Hope this helps.

    One last thing. Don't limit your efforts to Realtors. Apartment complexes often need brochure-website photos of their apartments and facilities, I'm doing one next week. Builders also use photos, go to the next Parade of Homes with a fist full of business cards. Check out your local historical society.


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  • #6
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    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    However, this isn't something that I want to invest a whole lot of time in. I've been asked by an independent agent. She said that it's not worth their time and money to use a photographer. Like you said Charles, they use p&s to get what they need. This particular client demands that the pictures be professional though. That's what makes me a little nervous. I've never done anything like that before. I don't do HDR but bracketed shots are definitely key. I'll practice with my own house with various lighting positions and see what I come up with.


  • #7
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    Our studio also does some real estate photography. We focus on commercial properties and higher end homes, although we are more than happy to shoot any location for our fee of $275 for the 1st hour and $150 each additional hour. We have had only two locations that needed more than an hour, and the vast majority only take 30 to 45 minutes total including set up.
    We open every curtain/shade (if they have them), turn on all the lights, and use multiple flashes and shoot through umbrellas to provide consistent lighting. All are shot on a tripod with a panning head.

    There are a lot of companies offering this type of work here in the Bay area, and if memory serves me, they pay something like 50 or 75 dollars per location. It is not hard work, but the key is setting up so you can do a couple of locations per day to make it worth your while.
    Steve

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  • #8
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    Having had worked in real estate advertising, this always interested me. Thanks for bringing it up...

    My only advice is one of warning: you'll need to work with real estate agents. They come across as real friendly when you're interested in buying a house, but their professional persona is very different. Just like any group of people some are nicer than others, but from my experience they can be a real handful to work for/with. They are, as a group, pretty intense.

    Strictly stereotypically speaking, they have huge egos and what they want is what they WILL get, so some degree of humility and excellent customer service is very, VERY important with this crowed. Never, EVER argue with a real estate agent.

    As for lighting, you might want to look into AC Slaves
    bear with me. i don't have an escape button...

  • #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by twinkle_turnip View Post
    Strictly stereotypically speaking, they have huge egos and what they want is what they WILL get, so some degree of humility and excellent customer service is very, VERY important with this crowed. Never, EVER argue with a real estate agent.
    This is the best part of the equation. If you can deliver top quality images, the top agents will book you on a regular basis.

    Quote Originally Posted by twinkle_turnip View Post
    As for lighting, you might want to look into AC Slaves
    Have to disagree on this one. These lights are very low power requiring extra slow shutter speeds and take more time. Go with a couple of flashes. Easier to pack, faster, easier to set up, and much more powerful.


    Steve

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  • #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cygnus Studios View Post
    If you can deliver top quality images, the top agents will book you on a regular basis.
    Definitely. I just wanted to point out that working with a realtor has it's own challenges and from my experience require some degree of "special care". But that was from a graphic design perspective, and people tend to get a little overly enthusiastic about their advertising, especially it seems in periodical publication...

    QUOTE
    Have to disagree on this one. These lights are very low power requiring extra slow shutter speeds and take more time. Go with a couple of flashes. Easier to pack, faster, easier to set up, and much more powerful.
    Wait, these aren't continuous are they? The reason I suggested it was because I figured they'd dump more light than Dane's CFL suggestion, but still provide light coming from existing fixtures. You'd still want some strobes (maybe diffuse?), but I think it'd be easier to light if you incorporated four or five of these slaves as well... Though I don't know how well it'd actually work. At 22w/s you'd prob just drown them out.
    bear with me. i don't have an escape button...


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