Whether you are a real estate professional, a vacation rental company or a homeowner, you may not think about the importance of using a real estate photographer to showcase your property when, in fact, it should be high on your list especially since professionally produced images can greatly increase sales and bookings. But what should you look for?
I have photographed more homes than I can count from studios to multi-million dollar mansions. I have also viewed more real estate photos taken from amateurs to professionals than you can imagine. When it comes to real estate photography, I learned there are a few key qualities in a photographer that can make the difference between making a good investment or a wasting your money.
Nothing beats experience in any field – and especially as a professional photographer. Before you spend your (or your client’s) money, do some research. Has the photographer been in business for a few days, a few months or several years? Does he or she photograph as a ‘side job’ or as a full-time professional? Commercial photography (that includes architectural, real estate and design photography) requires different skill sets than photographing landscapes, portraits, a wedding or the family pet. Experience with different properties, lighting configurations, and angles are only the tip of the commercial photography iceberg.
Does the photographer maintain a professionally maintained website featuring their work and not simply ‘stock’ photos taken from the web or do they only use Facebook, Instagram or another form of social media? A well designed website that is constantly updated is vital to any professional photographer especially since this is where their work, experience, contact information and important links can be showcased. While social media is certainly important, few businesses can survive without a solid website presence.
PROFESSIONAL AND COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS
Membership in professional and community organizations is important in every profession. Is the photographer an active member in photography/media organizations that provide continuing education such as the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and/or the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) – two of the oldest and most recognized photography associations in the country. Is he or she involved in their community and known for their photography? If not, you should question their long-term commitment to their profession.
While it’s easy to ask friends to leave testimonials on Google, Yelp, Bling and Facebook, these do not necessarily mean they are legitimate client testimonials. Instead, look for verified testimonials left for the photographer on sites such as houzz.com. Additionally, the photographer should have testimonials identified by the name of the individual or company who left the testimonial as well as the date it was left. After all, can an anonymous testimonial such as: “John did a great job photographing my property” that appears on the photographer’s website, social media or marketing material really be considered a reliable testimony?
You may be asking why I left cost as the least most important consideration. It’s simply that photography, like most art forms, is subjective as are prices. For example, someone charging $50 to photograph a 2,500 sqft home is either trying to ‘buy’ the business or simply has no idea what they are doing. Likewise, a photographer charging $4,000 to photograph the same home may be off the scale as well. So, how do you determine a fair price?
That takes us back to the importance of Items 1 – 4. If the photographer has been in business for a number of years, maintains a comprehensive website with numerous projects shown, is an active member in at least one recognizable professional association and has been active in their community, has several verifiable client testimonials, then you can be assured his or her pricing will be competitive. Your decision then should be left with only deciding if their photography style is what your are looking for. On the other hand, if you are only concerned about cost without taking into consideration the most important factors that make a photographer a true professional, then you will probably get what you pay for – and that could very well be a waste of money rather than an investment!
About Rick Cooper
Rick Cooper has been a filmmaker, photographer and photojournalist for more than 25 years. His studio specializes in Architectural, Real Estate, Commercial, Design and Lifestyle photography. Rick is an active member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the Professional Photographers Association of America (PPA) and has received the ‘Best of Houzz’ for photography multiple times.