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Why is Real Estate Photography so Expensive?

We hear it asked fairly frequently, “Why is real estate photography so expensive?  All you have to do is push the button!”  As professional photographers, some days we all wish it were that easy.  Let’s take a brief look at just what goes into a “typical” real estate shoot:

  1. Time
    We never seem to have enough of it.  We spend the time of our days and often our nights, scheduling shoots, answering emails, rescheduling appointments, driving to and from real estate photography shoots, downloading camera files, editing photos, uploading those files, creating property tours, billing clients, emailing photos, adding photos and or tours to the MLS,, and social media sites; charging batteries and checking equipment, checking the weather, answering phone calls and texts, etc. etc. etc.
  2. Equipment
    Talk with a professional real estate photographer about their gear and they’ll tell you why they consider it to be the best.  Professionals simply don’t skimp on gear.  They get the best glass (lenses) they can afford, purchase multiple camera bodies so they have a backup in the event of (God forbid) an equipment failure, flashes (or speed lights) to cover every lighting situation, tripods, carrying and storage cases, desktop and/or laptop computers with the fastest processing speeds they can, backup drives, and more.  And let’s not forget the batteries – for all those flashes, cameras, and some additional gear that may be used on site.
  3. Education
    Although photographers are not required to participate in continuing education, most professional photographers are involved in ongoing training to keep up with new gear, new software, and new techniques so that they are prepared to handle any photography situation that occurs. This training may be either formal or informal.  The cost may range from free training to those training sessions which cost thousands of dollars.
  4. Membership Fees and Services
    Professional real estate photographers frequently belong to premium and/or advanced photography communities. They may have memberships in professional groups such as the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Real Estate Photographers of America and International (REPAI), the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), and others which have monthly or annual membership fees.
  5. Insurance
    The professional real estate photographer generally carries two types of insurance – insurance on his/her equipment in case of breakage or theft, and liability insurance in the event that something is accidentally broken at someone’s home while providing photography services.
  6. Technology
    Constant changes to software, firmware, and hardware require professional photographers to evolve their skill set to keep up.  They use the best technology available that they can afford and are always searching for new ways to provide value to their clients.
  7. Assistants
    Whether on site or in the office, assistants may work with the photographer to lend a helping hand by carrying and/or setting up gear, editing, scheduling appointments, billing, etc.  They are paid from the income generated by the photographer.

So the next time you might wonder why your photographer’s prices seem high, take these factors into consideration.  It may also be worthwhile to ask your photographer about some of these factors to determine whether or not he or she is a professional photographer or an amateur.

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