When creating your real estate listing you are actually creating a billboard for yourself and telling other potential clients how you would treat and create their listing. There are many details to consider when putting them together, such as the wording you will use describe the property, how you going to show case the property online with your photographs, video and virtual tours, etc. However you choose to do these, you need to make sure you present the property in both a professional manner, and in a manner that gives the homeowner the best opportunity to sell the property as quickly as possible.

As a real estate agent, the problem you have is that you’re not guaranteed to sell the property no matter what you do, and therefore may not earn any money at all from the listing. With that in mind, a lot of agents try to cut corners and do things themselves when possible instead of using professional services. One of those services a lot of agents will attempt themselves is the taking of the real estate photographs. So is this right thing to do, or potentially a costly mistake?

Here in this article we offer a comparison between professional and DIY real estate photography and explain the pros and cons.

Using a Professional Real Estate Photographer

Without a doubt, if it were free service, the vast majority of real estate agents would use a professional to carry out this task. Not just to save themselves a job, but because inevitably the end results are going to be far better than they can do themselves. A professional real estate photographer isn’t just going to come in and take the photos, but they’re also going to take steps to ensure the images are as perfect as they possibly can be.

Pros

1) Specialized Equipment

When was the last time you hired a professional real estate photographer and they came in and began taking shots with their iPhone? It never happens! Professional real estate photographers invest thousands of dollars in purchasing the right equipment that is needed to deliver a professional result. It is more than just the camera, but the most important part of real estate photography is the lens that the photographer uses, and these lens could run into the thousands of dollars price range. Not only do the lenses allow the photographer to capture a great amount of space in the room (i.e. both width and height), but you are likely to get much richer and cleaner colors in the end. Other equipment a professional photographer would use includes things like flashes and accompanying accessories, stands and lightboxes, drones for aerial shots, and much more. These are things that simply cannot be replaced by a cell phone or a beginner grade DSLR camera.

2) Expertise

I remember the first time I took a real estate photograph and the real estate agent was so disappointed in the result that she hired another photographer to do the job properly. I had the right equipment, but what I didn’t have was the know-how how to really frame the shots and then how to edit them to make sure they highlighted the best aspects of each room. There was so much more to it than pointing and shooting a camera. So I set up improving my knowledge on the subject to ensure I could compete with the best real estate photographers around. It took an age to get where I am today, and many disappointed customers (I’m embarrassed to say) who were willing to offer feedback on my shots and after fixing the issues, that is how I improved my shots. By working with many real estate agents and finding out their likes and dislikes, I was able to improve both my framing of shots and the final delivery of images that were both true in color, and offered an enticing view of the homes that would attract would-be buyers.

As much as time is money for you, the real estate agent, and you want to get your shots back so you can place the home on the MLS, so it is for the professional photographer, so they want to get the job done right the first time of asking, and to deliver high-quality real estate photographs that the agent will use, and be so happy with that they will use the same service again for their next listing.

3) Comprehensive Editing

The final advantage of using a professional real estate photograph is the level of post-shoot editing that is carried out on each photo. When a photograph is taken you have to understand that for the most part it doesn’t come out user-ready, especially your indoor shots. A lot of rooms in a home have very bad levels of light, so the rooms need to be lightened up post editing, because no one wants to buy a dark dungeon for their next home. Also for rooms that do have large windows coming into them, you will find that their are different colors of light coming into the room, that could be affected by the color reflections of the blue sky, or green and brown trees. You really want your whites to appear white, and not for your room to have Yellow or Blue-ish hue that gives the wrong impression of how the room looks. A professional photographer will use software to make these edits prior to you placing the photographs into your listing.

Cons

1) The Cost

The one and only disadvantage of using a professional photographer is that you’re going to have to pay for the service. So bearing in mind that you aren’t guaranteed to recover this cost if you don’t sell the property, you really are going to have to look at this as an investment that could help you sell the property quicker, and if the house is taken off the market prior to the sale, then you chalk that one down to experience, and while the house was on the market, and it least you’ve advertised yourself as being a professional that does care about the quality of your listings.

DIY Real Estate Photography

These days everybody is a photographer. Their cell phones allow them to walk around with a picture taking device inside their purses or pockets. So with this in mind a lot of agents choose to use their cellphones to take their own real estate photographs and as such save money on their listings. So what are the pros and cons of doing things this way?

Pros

1) Fast Results

One thing that can’t be beaten when you take your own photographs is the speed in which you’re able to do things. There’s no scheduling and waiting around for the photographer to arrive, and it is going to take you far less time to shoot each room yourself, than it would a professional photographer. You’re simply going to go into each room and take the shot that you know you like and the photographs are immediately ready for use after you download them. You could actually have all of your DIY photographs ready for the MLS in the same amount of time it takes a professional to shoot a home.

2) Full Control

Because there is no real cost to you, you are not limited by the number of  photographs you will be able to use in your listing (other than the number limitation placed on you via your local MLS). You will be able to frame your shots exactly as you want them, which is another attractive point for those real estate agents who want to have more control.

3) No Costs

This is the main reason listed by agent that take their own real estate photographs. Hiring a professional photographer can cost anything from $99 for a few shots, up to a few hundred dollars for more shots. Don’t be fooled into thinking the most you pay the better your shots will be, that simply isn’t the case, but the reality is you will pay something when using a professional photographer. If you take the shots yourself, the only thing that it is going to cost you is your time – and probably the end-quality of your photographs.

4) Image Ownership Rights

Because most real estate photographers cannot charge a lot of money for their photography work (as the market really doesn’t allow for this), they actually retain the image rights, and only allow the agent to use the images for their listings. That way the photographer is able to use the listings to demonstrate the quality of their work, and also it prevents others from using the photographs over and over again without compensating the photographer for their work. If you take the photographs yourself, then you own the rights.

Cons

1) Poor End-Quality

Unless the real estate agent has had some kind of photography training, the likelihood is that the end product is going to be sub-standard. There is no getting away from that fact. The photographs may be acceptable, but put them next to a professionally taken image that has had good post-shoot editing carried out, then there will be no comparison whatsoever. When prospective buyers look at your previous listings and see the poor quality work, you will probably lose a number of those prospects who expect much more.

Final Thoughts

Unless you’re a seasoned real estate photographer, it’s best to go with a professional and experienced photographer to take your property shots. Be sure to use a real estate photographer, and not a photograph who specializes in weddings or portraits. Real estate photography is an art in itself. and it really does take a lot of property shoots and edits before a photographer can call themselves a competent real estate photographer. Always think of your real estate shots as being part of the cost of doing business, as much as any of the other marketing efforts that you carry out when you want to become a successful real estate agent.

Now that you’ve read this article, hopefully it gives you a bit more insight as to why spending that $150 (that we charge) on your next real estate photo session is worthwhile.