Photograph real estate yourself or hire a photo professional?

Oliver M. Zielinski Oliver M. Zielinski - 7. Februar 2022 - in: English

Photographing real estate yourself or hire professionals?Every now and then I am asked whether I still photograph real estate myself or whether only give photo workshops for real estate agents meanwhile. Don’t worry, I will of course continue to take photos. Because without this treasure of experience, I would not be a good teacher for my workshop series, which is now well-known throughout Europe. (Spoiler: You can find a detailed answer to this question at the end of this post.)

Can Brokers save money if they photograph real estate themselves?

Of course, real estate agents ask themselves this same question again and again. The answer is quite ambivalent: „It depends“.

You will get a clear NO if you:

  • do not (want to) have anything to do with photography,
  • are struggeling with technology,
  • know about yourself that you are not very good in the creative field (you don’t nessecarily have to, because the strengths of a good real estate agent naturally lie in other areas),
  • have no time for photography due to an acute business situation or to demanding projects.

Then it makes sense to outsource the documentation and visual presentation of real estate and hire a professional for this.

However, if none of these four antitheses works, then it may well be appropriate for you, the broker, to take the camera in your hands. But you should keep in mind, that some prep work is required to get truly competitive shots. The unquestioned motto is: „Real estate photos are commercial images“. Because they don’t only advertise the property to be marketed, but also promote your professional overall appearance in the competition. And today this is no longer possible without great photos as a door opener.

If you want to photograph real estate yourself, simply taking snaps is no longer enough for good photos.

If you want to photograph real estate yourself, simply taking snaps is no longer enough for good photos.

Put Numbers on the Table

In the end, base cost calculation will decide whether it is worth it for you. In the following fictitious example, we assume a period of one year. During this time, two properties will be offered per week. That’s a total of around 100 properties. I consider rounded net amounts at this point. Everyone can adjust quantities and prices for their own company.

Photograph real estate yourself

fictitious amount / year
camera, lens, tripod, bag, small technical helpers
EUR 1,500 / 7 years wear and tear
EUR 215
professional software Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop as subscription
10 EUR x 12 months
EUR 120
Computer / screen are due at some point anyway
EUR 2,500 / 3 years wear and tear
EUR 835
workshops on real estate photography and image editing
one-time, price based on my offer
EUR 650
for photography and image editing (considering an efficient workflow after attending my workshops according to field reports)
[0.5 h (photography) + 0.5 h (image editing)] x 100 properties x 100 EUR fictitious hourly rate
EUR 10,000
Total amount / year:
EUR 11,820

If you, as a broker, would like to photograph real estate yourself because you have your own photo ambitions or have to operate on a tight budget, then you should invest in time and targeted. Namely in:

  • really suitable photo equipment,
  • solid photographic training and
  • powerful computer technology.

In addition, it can be worthwhile to take photos yourself if you are dealing with off-the-shelf properties with recurring image contents or with properties that promise a (below) average income.

Hire a professional photographer

If you compare the cost calculation to hiring a professional photographer, you will sometimes end up with a significantly higher amount. But you have your hands free for your actual business.

fictitious amount / year
professional real estate photographer
from 250 EUR / property x 100 properties
from EUR 25,000

However, as soon as you have to market high-tier and representative properties, even an ambitious real estate agent who usually takes photos cannot avoid working with a photo professional. He has the better technology at his hands and knows how to present such valuable real estate visually.

Exclusive villa in the Canary Islands. With the right view, the good technology and in this
case with a bit of courage, professional images can be made. left: Making of / right: finished photo

In which case will I photograph real estate myself?

Oliver M. Zielinski - real estate photography

Oliver M. Zielinski – real estate photography

And that’s exactly how I think, too. To answer the question from the beginning of this article more precisely: Today I mainly photograph high-quality, unusual and large properties where it is actually worthwhile for the broker to invest in great photos.

Every now and then, classic small properties make it into my portfolio if:

  • they either offer something special visually or
  • the broker has failed due to special photographic challenges or
  • I want to try out new photo equipment or photographic techniques myself (with which I might keep my photo workshops up-to-date).

And why do I workshops now? Since there are many brokers who take photos themselves for the reasons mentioned above, I show them in my workshops how they can open up for the full potential of a property and equipment.

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