As a real estate photographer do you always need to deliver your best work?
Well, a lot of photographers would say yes, we should always do the best we can. However, I see a lot of photographers who specialize in real estate photography spend too much time working on their photos, but they don’t charge their clients enough to cover that time.
For example, what if you’re doing a photo shoot, and you’re only charging $150 for 20 photos? In that situation you might only be able to spend a maximum of 5 minutes working on each individual photo.
Is 5 minutes enough for you to deliver your very best work?
I’d hope not, because you should be able to have sufficiently amazing photo skills that you could spend 30 minutes or an hour working on a single image getting everything absolutely perfect.
So I want you to keep that in mind, because sometimes we don’t need to create the perfect image, and this decision around how much time and skill we put into each photo comes down to four key issues that I’ll cover in the video up above.
If you want to specialize in architectural or real estate photography then when it comes to your photography you need to know when good enough is good enough, and when best is better. It all depends on
- the time you have available
- the fee being charged
- who the client is
- what the future potential benefits from this image or this photo shoot could be.
Now before we get to that, we need to go back to the positioning of your business, which is something I covered in a video a couple of weeks ago. If you work hard to position yourself as an expert, and that’s something you should be doing, then you need to have the images to back up that brand you’ve created for yourself. Then in last week’s video we looked at the importance of having a diverse client base, and again, you need great photo skills to get those top-shelf clients. If you only want to deliver cheap real estate photos then sure, you don’t need to advance your skills very far. But if you want to go beyond that and work with high-end clients in architecture and hospitality then you need to be able to bring your A-game.
Having said that, sometimes you can’t do your best work if the time is not available for you. I mean, if you’re charging the client $150 for 20 photos, then you can’t spend a long time setting up every shot absolutely perfectly. You just can’t. You just have to settle for good enough, and know where that line is.
So that’s where the fee you’re charging the client comes in, because when you’re charging 7 dollars per photo then you’re going to have less time available to setup a shot than if you were charging 200 or 300 dollars per photo. When you’re charging higher rates then absolutely put everything in, and spend an hour setting up the lighting for a single image. That’s when you’re going to use 100 percent of your photo skills. But when you’re charging a lower fee then you might only use 60 percent of your photo skills.
Of course, who the client is can make a difference here as well, and maybe for certain clients being best is better. For example, if you have a client who hires you for a small photo shoot, but there is massive potential for future work in a way that will advance your business then yes, absolutely rock that photo shoot. Give it everything you’ve got if that client can give you more of the work you really want.
So my final point about the future potential benefits from an image comes into play here. So if you’re doing a small real estate shoot, but there’s something special about the home you’re shooting, or maybe the way you’ve composed a shot, and you know that if you bring 100 percent of your photo skills to this particular image then it’s going to give you something amazing for your portfolio, then absolutely go for it! I mean, we don’t get those big opportunities for spectacular images all the time, and if you can use that image to advance your career then give it 100 percent, and spend that extra time setting up the shot.
What you need to be able to do though is differentiate between ordinary and amazing. If it’s an ordinary photo shoot then good enough is probably good enough, though I will note that even good enough still needs to reach a certain standard. I mean, I look at a LOT of work by real estate photographers and I am really disappointed by some of the work I see. So delivering ‘good enough’ work doesn’t mean awful work, it means good enough that it helps the client, and you need to know where that line is and be able to meet that level of quality within the timeframe that your fee allows.
So if you currently deliver good enough work but you want to advance your skills and move from average photo quality to above average photo quality, then you can absolutely do that … in fact I would encourage you to do that because I know it will be the best option for you, but make sure your pricing matches that change in image quality as well. So as you learn and grow, and your photo skills get better and better and you want to spend more time on shoots, or spend the same time but bring more value to your clients, then make sure your pricing goes up as well, but we’ll cover that in more detail in next week’s video.
Here are the videos in this series for real estate and architectural photographers:
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