Let’s answer the question, “Why is Real Estate Photography so Expensive?”
Around the Indianapolis area if you were to hire a Real Estate Photographer for a 2,000 sq. ft. home and you wanted a full photo package (Interior Photos, Exterior Photos, Drone Photos, and a Virtual Tour), then you would be looking to spend anywhere from $400-$650. The average cost from the 6 companies in the area is around $500. For some companies, this even includes limited photos and you must pay for additional (If you want more than 2 drone photos, “lifestyle photos”, or more than 20-30 interior photos). If you were to go one package higher (let’s say it was a 2,300 sq. ft. home), then the average cost goes to $500-750. So that leads us to the question: WHY?!
If you’re not much of a reader, I’d recommend at least checking out Reason 4 and I’ll put my solution to these problems in the conclusion.
Reason 1: Full-Time vs Part-Time – Many photographers are not full time. This plays a HUGE consideration into pricing because it simply isn’t worth it for them to do it part-time unless they have bigger payouts. On top of expensive equipment, there is a lot of editing software costs, insurance costs for liability and equipment, and, what I have seen more commonly than expected, they just don’t seem to care about building a brand and ever going full time. One way to cut costs is to not use top-end equipment or not carry any insurance, but usually those people’s quality and level of service will be a tell-tale sign of their dedication and professionalism. It is much more affordable to a Full-time photographer to pay for insurance, software, and other monthly expenses when they have a higher volume of work coming in.
Reason 2: Equipment – The average equipment cost for Real Estate Photography ranges anywhere from $7k-$20k+. This could also include nicer equipment for drone photography and 3D Virtual Tours (also called Matterport tours). If you were to ONLY offer a basic, high-quality, photo package then the minimum you would be able to get started for would be around $3.5k. In my opinion, you should spend at least $2k+ for a JUST good lens and would be better off to have at least 2 lenses. On top of that, the average monthly expenses for Insurance + Editing software + 3D Tour Software + etc. is around $200/month. All that to say, it adds up. If you want high-end photos from a professional photographer, then you will spend a little more…but your brand is worth it and your clients know very clearly the difference between you having put the care and effort into finding a professional VS hiring the $70 part-time photographer who doesn’t know how to take straight photos.
For Example, here's a Bathroom Photo Comparison between a Cell-phone photo and my photo:
While I would love to tell you I searched for a long time to find the worst Mibor latrine photo, in reality, it was the first home that I saw had bad photos based solely on the thumbnail photo (was also listed at over $90k).
Reason 3: Complications – One of the biggest frustrations I hear from Real Estate Professionals when hiring a photographer is how complicated it is to try to find a time that works for everyone. Sometimes the RE Agent wants to be on site, but doesn’t want the homeowner to be home. So… they have to coordinate their schedule, the homeowner’s schedule, and the photographer’s schedule. If the photographer doesn’t answer the phone, then they have to either wait and get back with the homeowner, or look for a different photographer. If they want more than just basic photos, then the photographer then has to schedule with the people on their team (more on this in Reason #4) and get back with a time that then works for all of their people as well. These complications make it harder for the Photographer to do their job efficiently, and that wasted time is, ultimately, added into their price. Not only that, but now the RE Professional is spending a lot of time and energy on tasks that could easily be avoided. To put it simply: It’s complicated.
Reason 4: Too Many Cooks – I saved the best for last. The NUMBER 1 REASON these companies HAVE to charge $500+ for the full package is because they hire out other people for the different services. So, let’s have a role-play. You call their office and the office assistant answers the phone (Person 1). They set everything up time-wise between the ground photographer (Person 2), the aerial photographer (Person 3), and the Matterport Specialist (Person 4). Each photographer then has to drive to the site, complete the job, and get paid. That means that $500+ is paid out between at least 4 people and has to cover business overhead as well. Even if your team only consisted of 2-3 people and no physical location, you can see how it would be virtually impossible to charge any less.
After talking with many Real Estate Professionals and researching competitors around Indianapolis, these are the solutions I came up with for The One Package:
Solution 1: Full-Time VS Part-Time – I’m full-time. This means I can put more effort and time into perfecting my craft and honing my skill since it is what I do professionally.
Solution 2: Equipment – At the end of the day, equipment is just expensive. I decided to spend a little more on nicer equipment because I can offer a higher-end product but also save some time on the back-end since editing is faster when you have a better base product.
Solution 3: Complications – Online Booking. That is my answer. I have NO idea why I don’t see this option more with full-time photographers. If you want to know if I am available, you just simply go to my website and check my availability. That’s it. If I’m available, all you have to do is book the time, give any details needed, and I will show up and photograph the listing. It is a VERY easy fix and makes everyone’s life simple.
Solution 4: Too Many Cooks – I love to learn, so I do it all myself. I have owned a camera since I was a young child, have taken photography classes in school, and have always been drawn towards art and photography. On top of that, I am a licensed drone pilot, previously owned/operated a Full-Time drone company, and took all of the classes necessary to make sure I provide top-notch Virtual Tours. Since I do not have to pay other contracted photographers to offer these services, I am able to schedule jobs much easier and cut the average cost of Real Estate Photography by more than 50%.
In conclusion, I hope this was helpful in some way. My goal for Real Estate Photography in Indianapolis is to offer a high-quality photo package so that Brokers can build their brand without breaking the bank. For many RE Professionals, it does not make sense to spend the $400-600 on a photo package unless the home is at least $350,000+. My goal is to offer prices that make sense for any home that is over $150,000, unless you are really trying to grind and boost your brand and want to use it on every listing.
If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out directly!
“Here to make Real Estate Photography Easy in Central Indiana.”
Based in Indianapolis, IN.