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What Does a Real Estate Photographer Do?

If you're going to list your home and you're thinking about taking the listing photos with your cell phone, please read this first! When people find out that we're real estate photographers, they often give us a puzzled look. Most people think of a photographer as the person taking pictures of fashion models, of wild life or landscapes, the person photographing weddings or special events, or the person taking family portraits. They don't imagine the person who takes pictures of an empty house, of vacant land, or who flies a drone to capture aerial images and videos. But most of us have seen the work of real estate photographers, and probably more often than we realize. If you've ever browsed websites like Zillow or Redfin or Estately, you've definitely seen some real estate photographers' work (and probably some listings that could have benefited from a professional's expertise). Real estate photographers also supply media for print and billboard advertisements, magazine articles, television commercials, etc.

So, to get to the point of this blog post, "What does a real estate photographer do?" To answer that, I'll take you through a typical day on the job. Once an agent or a homeowner contacts us, we have a conversation about the types of services that they might want or need to list their property effectively.  Some homes do not require more than a few interior and exterior shots. Others would benefit from a simple video walk-through and some may want a Hi-Def video walkthrough.

Aerial pictures showcase the property

Some properties have a lot of land or are near water and an aerial video would help showcase the listing. Other properties have extensive landscape and exterior lighting where twilight pictures can really make a statement. Once we have the conversation with the client and determine the products and services that they want, it's time to do some research. We find out the layout of the property and determine what time of day to set up the session based on where the sun will be. Photographing the exterior of a home while facing into the sun is difficult and can yield unsavory pictures. After the session is booked, we also have to determine if anything else is needed.  If the client wants aerial work done, we have to check with aviation charts so see if the property lies in any restricted airspace which would require clearance from air traffic control or waivers from the FAA.

A typical session with us takes anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the size and layout of the home and property. We go around and take multiple pictures from different angles in each room and all around the exterior of the home and use one of our drones if aerial work is requested. There is definitely an art to knowing what to shoot and how to shoot it. Lighting, composition, perspective, camera settings... it's not as simple and "point-and-shoot," at least not if you want quality images.

So now that the property is photographed, our work is done, right? If only. Now comes the editing process. One hour of taking pictures can mean anywhere from one to three hours of editing. This time can increase exponentially when working with video footage. Being a good editor is almost as important as is being a good photographer. The editing process for pictures can include straightening, cropping, white balancing, and removing blemishes, just to name a few. The editing process for videos can include all of those things as well as cutting and blending scenes, syncing music or narration, adding titles and credits, etc.

After all of the editing is done, the final products are shared with the client who then lists the property. We believe that our work will sell itself, but we still like to help the client so we do some marketing for them on social media. It feels good to us when a home that we photographed sells for list price or above and quickly. It adds value to our product when the client hears that our pictures or videos are what drew the buyer to the listing.

The truth is that anyone can take pictures for a listing, but most people don't have the time or experience to take quality photos, and even fewer people have the knowledge or ability to edit their photos properly. The small investment that you put into hiring a real estate photographer can make a world of difference in how quickly and for how much your listing sells. Homes listed with professional pictures sell for more money and faster than those listed without. Photographs could mean the difference between a potential buyer viewing the listing or not.  If the main image doesn't grab their attention or interest they will keep searching. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and professional listing photos will do just that.

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