Hiring a real estate photographer to take photos of your listings is an investment in your business, much like commissioning a professional designer to create your logo or website. While it might be cheaper and slightly less time-consuming to go the DIY route, the results of showing professional-quality images pay for the expense and illustrate that you’re an agent driven to sell homes quickly and accurately. (One more tip: calculating your per-hour cost for taking photos, then figuring out what other revenue- and sales-generating tasks you could be accomplishing instead, will further justify the cost.)
Convinced that you should outsource your photography to the pros? Here’s what some successful real estate photographers would like you to know:
1. Professional photographs aren’t just for high-end listings.
Darryl Glade, co-founder and CEO of real estate photography firm IMOTO, thinks that any property will benefit from being captured by a pro’s lens, since “one of the purposes of professional photos is to help a listing stand out from competitive listings” in a market.
Says Glade, who started IMOTO to market properties through photography, staging and visual tours: “While there is an upfront cost to purchasing professional listing photos, the return on investment is enormous and far outweighs any initial investment.
“Not only do professional photos help get potential buyers in the door to view the listing, but they also increase the perceived value of the property,” he says. “In (an) internal study, we found that listings that use IMOTO’s professional photography sell for 39 percent closer to list price.” And that’s cash in an agent’s pocket, whether your listing is $199K or $599K.
2. Photographers have distinct styles and methods; not every photographer is right for every situation.
Take time to assess a photographer’s portfolio, paying particular attention to the way they light and visualize a property. Does the space feel warm and cozy or straight out of a magazine editorial shoot? Different properties require different treatments by a photographer, which you should be able to determine from looking at their website.
Natalia Robert, a San Diego, Calif.-based real estate photographer, suggests asking for a “full range of photos for a listing and reviews from past clientele.” Then meet the photographer for a consultation or a test run to see if their style matches your vision. Also consider turnaround time, to make sure there will be no backlogs in making the listing live.
3. Be able to articulate what makes the property sellable and special, so that we can articulate that in photographs.
Stained glass windows or a custom cupola? Fruit trees or a giant lot? Don’t expect a photographer to show up to a shoot and automatically know what you want to highlight.
Spend some time educating the photographer on the best features of a home so that we can take both detailed and expansive shots that show off its best qualities. “Many times I walk into a property and the agent or homeowner gives me free range to do what I would like,” Robert says. “While I love the trust, I also appreciate some direction so that I can present a client with exactly what will benefit them.”
4. You’ve got to do some work in the home before we arrive at the shoot.
While photographers have keen eye for arrangement and composition, they still appreciate when an agent takes the time to prep and stage the home. De-cluttering and furniture placement should take place before the photographer steps foot on the premises to maximize their time taking pictures.
And don’t forget the outside of the home. Charlotte, N.C., real estate photographer Julie Legge reminds agents to “have the lawn mowed, bushes trimmed and front walkway swept,” so that the exterior shows as much care as the interior.
5. Agents who understand the power of visual marketing and distribute their photographs on a variety of platforms will get us more business, which can create a cycle of mutual referrals.
Just like real estate agents, what photographers want more than anything is exposure. The more you can distribute your images out into the world — through print ads, direct mailers, web portfolios and virtual tours, text and email marketing and social media — the more potential referrals you’ll bring to the photographer and the more likely you’ll be able to develop a strong ongoing relationship.
Glade says that photographers value agents who are “able to harness the power of multiple marketing platforms and we love these agents, because when they effectively market themselves, they are marketing us through their visual content.”
When that happens, the businesses of both agent and photographer will ultimately benefit.
Sarah Kinbar is a writer and editor with a passion for design and images. She was the editor of Garden Design magazine, curating coverage of residential gardens around the globe. As the editor of American Photo, Kinbar worked with photographers of every genre to create a magazine that told the story of the photographer’s journey.
She has been writing about architecture, landscape design and new-home construction for NewHomeSource since 2012. During that time, she founded Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides content for website redesigns, blogs, inbound marketing campaigns and eNewsletters.