Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Real Estate Photography Pricing and Services

Posted by larrylohrman on October 5, 2006


I get questions all the time about what real estate photographers should charge. I always give the following examples of what some of the independent real estate photographers around the Seattle area charge:

  1. $145 for 15 photos and a buildatour.com slide-show ($109 introductory price)
  2. $150 for 15 still photos
  3. $199 for 15 still photos and a flyer design

I now have a new data point. The brokerage we are with (www.johnlscott.com/) signed a volume discount deal with www.circlepix.com/ for the following pricing:

  1. A Standard Plus Tour with 5 panoramic images and 12 still images for $69.99.
  2. A Master Tour with 10 panoramic images and 18 still images for $89.99.
  3. Free audio with voice narration and music
  4. Free eTour- an email-able version of the tour (allowing portable copies to be burned onto a CD)
  5. Free flyer-building tools

This volume discount arrangement doesn’t mean that John L Scott agents have to use circlepix.com tours it just means that John L Scott agents have the opportunity to use circlepix.com tours for a discounted price.

I don’t have a feel for what kind of quality you get for this low price. For this price I don’t expect that the quality of the photography will be extremely high. A real estate photographer I was talking to recently called this the “Wal-mart” of real estate photography. However, this is the price point and services that independent real estate photographers need to be able to compete with. Real estate photographers need to be aware of the price, quality and services of their competition.

I’ve been telling real estate photographers for some time that they need to provide a tour on CD and Flyer design. This list of services confirms what I’ve been claiming. Flyers and a tour on CD are the most important uses Realtors have for photographs besides loading still images on websites. Realtors need flyers and tours on CD and usually can’t create them themselves.

Also you should be aware that these prices and services may not be the same in all areas of the US. The smaller towns may not have any real estate photographer services while the larger population areas may have many photographers competing for business. Be sure to research the specifics of your particular market. The best way to research your area is talk to the local Realtors.

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28 Responses to “Real Estate Photography Pricing and Services”

  1. Ouch! That’s cheap. I asked a pro in Nantes(FR), he charge 600€ (US$762) for 20 pictures. I was thinking of offering my services next summer, at the the tourist coast to not overlap with my business. I was thinking of charging about half of that for one half day of work.

  2. Looking at the quality of the images from at least one example of circle pix confirms the ‘you get what you pay for’ adage. If I submitted that quality of images to my customers I’d probably never hear from them again. The discriminating realtor is going to know quality. And there are plenty of them around who recognize it and demand it.

    $762? I don’t think I could get that price. But I’d love to! 🙂

  3. Based on what all other service people charge (Appliance service, furnace service, plumber, electrician etc) I believe that it costs around $80 to $90 for any kind of service person to just show up and cover expenses in the Seattle area. So, I think this is an attempt by circlepix.com to jump start it’s business in this area.

  4. Drew King said

    I work directly for an agency, and freelance. In South New Jersey, I can not see how anyone could make a living working for a company like Circle. My agency supplies me with a truck, computers, full color fiery printers etc. On a typical shoot I fire off upwards of 100 shots of which I pass on 35 or so. The agency keeps me pretty busy.
    As a side note if I do a magazine 1/2 page layout I get around $500. But I get static for $50 for a freelance photo shoot. Go figure.

    BTW I love this blog as its the only place I’ve found that offers intelligent conversation on this field.

  5. wasserman said

    You are right on Circle pix…Pictures look flat …
    I hate when you get the top of a sofa or the middle of a
    refrig…
    Why would a professional work for $30…It takes so much
    time to drive to the job plus setup…

    I use nikon fisheye and Nikon D70 …I find the results better
    I hate color cast and washed out blue sky…

  6. Here in Clark County, WA, the CirclePix photographer was just fired by one of my new clients because his work was so shoddy. The realtor was upset that “junk” was left in plain sight, etc.

    I understand the reasoning: The CirclePix guy is paid on a per-job basis and he’s got to get through them quickly.

    It’s a thankless job. They work their tails off during the summer, then when winter comes and work dries up, they end up leaving Cpx to get a “real job” .. because not many have saved $ during the summer.

    That’s when I pick up most of my business, because we live here.

    I agree with Drew. I just stumbled on this site and really enjoy the conversation. Makes me want to begin my blog again…

    Dawn Shaffer

  7. Drew King said

    I work on the south Jersey Shore where full time work can best be described as minimal. My niche working for a large agency has allowed me to be working overtime for the past 5 weeks, with no end in sight. I provide service above and beyond the call working 6-7 days a week. I’m a professional not some sweaty collage kid with a camera trying to shoot 20 houses a day. I feel that with any profession all it takes is one person to kill the pricing structure for all of us.

    I see some of the smaller virtual tour guys running businesses down here and it kills me that they don’t take the extra few minutes to make a tour look good. Rule #1 Don’t park your car in the driveway and take a picture of it for the MLS or a VT!!! You all have seen it.

    Case in point:
    Friday it was overcast and I needed to update some beach front shots for an agent.
    I got beautiful interiors and a really good exterior with some help from photoshop.
    The master bedroom overlooked several windows facing the beach, but the owner
    pilled up tons of outdoor furniture from the deck in the room and it was overcast (the view dint look good). So much for that, shot a reverse angle of the bed and I’m done.
    Well not in my book I wasn’t.
    Saturday we had an unseasonably 70 degree day with beautiful skies.
    I went back to the house and moved the furniture, staged the shot, and put it back. 30min tops to do it and now we can feature the master bed room properly.

    While I don’t suggest everyone go out and start moving furniture, you can clear a counter off in the kitchen that has mail etc in mere seconds it it makes the shoot look 1000% better. People enjoy seeing beautiful homes, but hey don’t want to know people live there day to day.

    Drew

  8. Drew – How are you paid? yearly salary? hourly?

  9. I think pricing has a lot to do with the locality you’re working in. Circlepix prices would be expensive in smaller communities where driving isn’t a factor but fair in Seattle where traffic can take up 3/5 of the day.

    A few Realtors ask me to take stills while I’m doing the virtual tours because they aren’t expert with a camera. It’s not necessary to do a professional photo shoot every time: they just want basic wide angle photos for mls that are straight and reasonably well lit. It takes about 10 minutes to go through the house. I think this is the service that Circlepix is offering.

  10. Clarence said

    I was looking to possibly sign up to take pictures for Circle. From reading the comments on here, I was wondering is it even worth the try? Would you recommend I work with them or not??

    Also, does anyone know if Circle supplies the clients (realtors) for their photographers or are the photographers responsible for finding their own clients? Plus, it mentions a start up cost. Does anyone know what the startup cost is exactly?

  11. Cheryl said

    Clarence,

    I was thinking about applying for the Circlepix photographer job in my area. I’m a bit skeptical and was wondering if you have any info to share.

    Thanks,
    Cheryl

  12. I wouldn’t touch them with a 10-foot pole! Around here, based on what they’re charging their end users, they can’t possibly be paying the photographers more than $12-$15 an hour. You can make more at Starbucks, literally. Also, you’ll gain zero photography experience, other than getting sucked into a vortex of super low-end, snapshot photography.

    Much better idea, in my opinion, is to join ASMP and hire out as a PA, or better yet, if you can swing it, get an apprenticeship with the best local photographer you can find. Still low pay, and you’ll be schlepping a lot of gear around and fetching coffee (instead of making it!) but you’ll also be soaking up invaluable experience and know-how, making priceless contacts, and having a pretty good time. Your schedule will still be flexible so you can do your own freelance stuff on the side.

    Just my 2 cents!

  13. Mike M said

    great blog, Get ready to be blown away! Talk about low dough, I was looking for a way to get paid taking pictures during the weekdays, something simple with regular orders coming in. I found a source, I now take pictures for insurance companys, I know I am crazy, here’s my deal I have to take pictures of the houses (not high art) messure the house with a wheel,draw a diagram, do a check list inspection than send all that info into the office and here is the kicker, it pays between $5.00 and $15.00 per home!!! Help! Any suggestions, I would be happy taking simple photos, low tech of homes (without the extra crap, measuring, inspecting…)I would actualy be happy with like $20.00+ a home if they keep them coming and they are closely grouped, can anybody help me out? PLEASE! Here’s my direct Email MrMikeFla@AOL.COM Thanks all

  14. Sarah said

    I just recently talked to a Circlepix recruiter. The start-up cost is $1100 for a “rotator head” for the virtual tours, and for 5-6 hour of web training on how to use it. The pay in the Washington DC area is $30-40 per tour, and travel time and gas costs are not included in the pay. As to how busy the photographer will be, now that Spring is here Circlepix estimates that there should be an average of 25-40 tours each month. For the virtual tours, the photographer just takes the pictures. Virtualpix will put them together in a slideshow.

    Would love to know what ya’ll think. For me, already the start-up cost is a stumbling block. It doesn’t make sense that they make you pay for the equipment. The pay is not much, considering the time you’ll be putting into the assignments.

  15. John Sembrot said

    $1100 / $30 is 36 tours You have to figure that the promised business will be half. It could take 2 months to pay it off, Then what you own it? Can you use it to start your own company? If not how can they make you pay for it.

    Market a higher quality product and charge $125 – $150.

  16. To whom it may concern,
    Although the website site address I sent showed mostly people and fashion, please be advised that I’m currently a newspaper photographer in the D.C. metro area. And that taking real estate photos are one of my many expertise.If your interested Please call me at (240)350-0021
    Sincerely,
    Bryan Haynes

  17. Anonymous said

    Sarah, I agree with John.

    You have to figure in your time spent acquiring the gig – reading their email, mapquesting the address, then travel time to the address, at least (I would guess) 30 minutes shooting, travel time back home, ingest the images from the card, upload to CirclePix.

    The travel time is obviously the wild card, but realistically that would be a MINIMUM of 30 minutes round trip. You could easily be spending one and a half to two hours real-time on the job, bringing you below $20/hour. Truly, there is better money to be made operating at a higher level!

  18. Heidi said

    I have a question regarding payment policies. Is it typical that realtors pay a deposit prior to shoot or are all monies due after shoot and before client receives pictures.

    I appreciate any and all comments.

    Thanks!
    Heidi

  19. I have been shooting for realtors for three years and I always deliver an invoice by e-mail with the images. In those three years, I have had only one bad experience where an agent didn’t pay. I don’t know why she didn’t…the work was really good and the property sold fast. One other time I had to send reminders for about six months but she finally did pay.
    That said, I would put some verbiage on my statement to the effect that payment is due upon receipt. Sometimes I have to wait weeks to get paid. It doesn’t affect me as much now because my volume is high but in the beginning, it definitely did.

  20. Robert George said

    Great information regarding the ins and outs of working as a photog in the Real Estate world. Can anybody chime in that has actually paid the up frony money to CirclePix.com and comment about their experiences with them? Also talking with one of their recruiters and also a little leary to pay that kind of money to become one of their field photogs.

    Thanks, Robert

  21. Anonymous said

    Some of the biggest things that factor your compensation are the tour package that was ordered, travel time and tour volume. The less time you spend traveling and the more tours you shoot = more money. That being said, you’ll want a small area (20 mile radius?) that produces a good number of tours. The up-front cost varies depending on the camera equipment that you have (CirclePix requires that each of their photographers use the Nikon D40 or D50 DSLR cameras); exceptions have been made for certain Cannon DSLR cameras.

    CirclePix photographers supply the images and CirclePix pretty much handles everything else (all of the editing and “stitching” of each tour, the marketing, the customer service, etc. are all handled by CirclePix). If they want it, a CirclePix photographer can request marketing materials to distribute around their area, but CirclePix pretty much handles all of the marketing.

    At the end of the day, successful CirclePix photographers schedule multiple shoots on the same day and try to keep the travel time at a minimum. To increase tour volume, good photographers do extra marketing in addition to whatever CirclePix does. The up-front cost is reasonable if you can get your area to produce a good number of tours.

  22. Hi everyone,
    I’m a circlepix photographer…please ask away 🙂
    Jess O

  23. leigh said

    hi jessica,
    i’m thinking about joining the circlepix team… have you been successful? and do you think this is something i can do with my young 5 month old daughter tagging along? do you have much face time with realtors? do you take lighting equipment? thanks for your input.

  24. Well, judging from the high-dollar camera the guy has on the “tour package” image, you can guess that it’s not too incredibly professional 🙂 Really, not to say that the camera doesn’t take good snapshots, but that’s really all you can get out of one of those for the most part…

  25. John G said

    I have been shooting RE work for the last 4 years. I have been in some spectacular homes. My total house count is up near 1300, but I have yet to find a place where 10 panorama’s would be useful!

  26. Anonymous said

    STAY CLEAR OF CIRCLEPIX!!!

  27. Robert W said

    Hi,

    Up until recently I was a Circlepix photographer in northern Maryland. My territory was approximately 60 square miles. This meant my travel time was on average 90 minutes for most shoots. Each shoot took 20 to 45 minutes depending on the size and type of tour ordered.

    I averaged 40 to 50 tours a month and made between $800 & $1200.00 dollars per month. Too little money for the amount of driving(Over 12,000 miles) and time(4 to 5 hours a day) I put in.

    Circlepix is the dominate tour provider in our area and their prices are very competitive. They have exclusive deals with all the major brokerages in my area with special pricing for each.

    For example with Long & Foster they offer a 15 still package for $49.00. With the decline in the real estate market this package sells very well.

    So, should one sign up with Circlepix? It depends on your situaltion. If you’re retired and would like to make a few extra bucks a month working about 20 hours a week, go for it.

    If you’re looking to make a living wage, forget it. You would be better off using Buildatour and getting your own clients.

    Finally, real estate agents for the most part don’t like to spend money on photography most shoot their own. Quality isn’t something that they’re concerned with.

    In my experience only the top producers are willing to spend money for high quality photographs. The overwhelming majority of agents are part timers and are more likely to take their own pictures rather than use a professional photographer.

    I hope this info is helpful…

  28. Delhi Manali Tour Packages

    Real Estate Photography Pricing and Services « Photography For Real Estate

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