by Devon Higgins
There are a number of ways you can go about getting your first real estate photography gig. Check out a few of our suggestions to see what will work for you.
There are many different routes you can go when starting your own real estate photography business. All it takes is that first client and that first job to set you on the right path. There is no one right way to get that first client, all that matters is that you secure the work, shoot the house, and deliver images (and get paid for them!). From there, you can start to build momentum and a reputation for yourself and your new business.
Realistically, it’s unlikely you’ll be competing with more than ten other photographers in any given market. Word gets around fast if there is someone good who is quick, provides good quality, and pleasant to work with. Word gets round even faster if you’re none of those things, and it’s really hard to recover from a bad reputation…
How to Start
Make sure that you have the right equipment for a real estate photography shoot. You don’t need the best that money can buy. Start with a good DSLR camera, a decent tripod, and some basic understanding of lighting. For post-production, make sure that you have good photo editing software, or alternatively that you are signed up with a photo editing service like PhotoUp that can relieve you of that responsibility.
Having the right equipment is half the battle. After that, it comes down to the ancient art of marketing and self-promotion.
How to Land Your First Real Estate Photography Client
There’s no telling what’s going to work for you. But try a few of these tactics and one or two of them will likely yield results and set you on the right path to a career in real estate photography.
Call up a few realtors and offer to work for free
There’s nothing wrong with doing a little work at no charge in order to make connections and build up your portfolio. Try reaching out to some realtors in your area or, better off, if you have a friend or family member that is a real estate agent, start there!
If you feel too shy to contact a realtor out of the blue, then ask a friend or family member if you can take some photos of their house so you can start using those pictures for promotional material. You’ll learn a lot in the process, and you’ll start to build a diverse portfolio of images for future clients.
Make sure that you add a variety of photos to your photography website. There’s nothing more off-putting to a client than visiting a real estate photography website only to discover that his or her entire portfolio is from one shoot at one property.
Present at a local brokerage
This one takes a bit of courage. But there’s nothing wrong with putting together a PowerPoint presentation, buying a box of doughnuts and showing up at a brokerage to present your services and make some connections. Try to find out if they have a regular meeting where all the agents are present, and ask for a few minutes to introduce yourself and show your work.
Best case scenario, you come away with a few new clients! The worst that can happen is you’re out some money on doughnuts. Worth the risk if you ask us…
Identify local realtors who are winging it
A great way to identify new potential clients is to start identifying agents that are getting by with taking pictures of their listings on their iPhone. Their contact details will be on the listing and you can simply give them a call or send them an email to let them know what they’re missing.
Be careful: take care not to insult their existing photos.
Invest some time and money into your website and SEO
If you don’t want to go the guerilla marketing route, then the best thing you can do is make sure you’re spending time building out a great website. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is too big a topic to cover in this article but there is plenty of great content on SEO for photographers.
A great way to begin is by making sure that you have a custom-built website that is optimized and built for photographers. By building out your website and using targeted keywords, you’ll start to get ranked by prominent search engines when realtors start searching for “real estate photography in [your area]”.
Post images online and listen to the feedback
All of us can always get better at what we do. It’s dangerous to feel like you’re on top and there’s nothing more to learn or improve upon. Stay open to criticism and advice.
One of the best ways to get noticed is to post your work on your personal and/or business social media accounts. Social media is a great tool for marketing your work, starting conversations, and even booking your first client! It may surprise you just how well connected you are to realtors or agents in your area.
When you’re looking for that all-important first client, you’ll need to offer a valuable service, have confidence in your ability, and always have a great attitude. This will help you start to build relationships with busy agents who need you to make their lives easier and more profitable thanks to the quality of your work.
Keep learning and improving and you’ll see one client turn into two, then two into four and soon you’ll be on your way to the career of your dreams. Good luck out there!