This is your quick-and-dirty guide to finding your next Los Angeles Real Estate Photographer! This article is for anyone (Real Estate Agents or Property Owners) who this is their first time taking professional real estate pictures. In this article, I will walk you through the steps to complete your first real estate photo shoot. As an aside, the debate about professional photos is over- you need to take them in Los Angeles. Also, 100% of buyers search for homes online.
Having your go-to real estate photographer is a must for all Strong Listing Agents. Most Los Angeles real estate agents I know have one photographer they use for almost everything. One advantage of doing this is you build a strong relationship with your photographer. You get to know each other. Since you are giving them volume business, you have an impact on their bottom line. They notice and appreciate that. Your la property photographer will usually do you a few favors when you need it as a thank you for being one of their VIP clients. A few nice things photographers have done for me: weekend photoshoots when the photographer doesn’t work on the weekends (nobody works Sunday, some work Saturday some don’t), a free property tour website ($150 value), short notice bookings (the LA real estate photographer might move around their schedule to accommodate you), extra listing photos to name a few.
Honestly, if you hire a professional Los Angeles real estate photographer – you are going to get a good set of pictures to market and sell your listings. So, you don’t have to agonize over the decision. There is more than 1 photographer out there who can do the job. I’d start out by trying to work with someone you get along with. If you don’t know anybody ask a real estate friend or mentor for a referral. If you are in LA I have made this list Los Angeles Real Estate Photographers to help you find one.
I LOVE Marketing and like to try different photographers whenever I have the chance to expand my network. I really like seeing the different approaches photographers take. One of my favorite things is to have different photographers shoot the same listing (this sometimes happens if the listing expires and you want to freshen it up with a new set of photos, or an owner makes an improvement to the property based on buyer feedback to make it more desirable and you need new photos to highlight the updates)- WOW! You can really see a difference in styles when you do this.
I would look through the photographer’s portfolio of pictures and call the ones that you like their pictures. If you are having a tough time making up your mind on which photographer you want for your next shoot- here are a few things to consider that might make your decision easier:
How much do you have to spend? Real Estate Photographers charge between $150-$300 on the value end of the spectrum, $400-$600 in the average price range, and $700 – $800 on the higher end. If the house is very large or if you are working with a high-end real estate photography shoots can get up as high as $1,000-$2,000. You definitely want to make sure you are not overspending on your listing if it is inappropriate. For lease listings where your entire commission might only be $1,500, you don’t want to spend your whole commission on just the photos! Conversely, if you have a very high-end listing- $5M+ maybe you want to get the absolute best set of pictures to use for your marketing and you are willing to spend more. In general, a lower price means lower quality – the photographer has to move faster and takes fewer shots, can’t spend time staging a shot, sometimes they miss a room because they might only shoot it from 1 or 2 angles. Higher-end photographers can spend 3-4 hours at a shoot, and I know some that will return several times to the property to shoot it at different times of the day.
There are a bunch of different services photographers offer for real estate agents. The main one is day time photos, but you can also get twilight shots, drone/aerial photos, 3D Tours, neighborhood lifestyle photos, and Video. You might have to hire 2 different photographers if the one you are using for daytime stills doesn’t do the other services you are looking for.
SIZE OF THE COMPANY
Most real estate photographers are 1 or 2 people. There are a couple of companies like Planomatic, Rancho Photos, Shooting LA that have become very large and may have as many as 10-20 photographers on staff. If you want a personalized hands-on approach to your shoot you may want a smaller company. If you want the flexibility of short notice bookings and consistency of service, the large companies have shorter wait times and more customer service. If you have to shoot a large number of properties quickly, larger companies have huge capacity.
Some photographers are very good with light, some are very good with color, some are very good with composition, some are very good at arranging a shot, some can do special effects (car light blurs (Adam Latham Bel Air Photography), add fire to a fireplace, an image onto a blank television screen, black and white effects). If you have a specific target demographic in mind or style you are going for you might want to pick a photographer who is strong in that area. One example is twilight shots, if you have a listing you want great twilight photos, not all photographers are good at that, so you might hire based on that. Some photographers are narrative, where their photoshoots are almost like a walkthrough of the house, photos are eye level. There are also photographers who like to take vignettes (Verticle close up photos – works great for Cell Phones and create atmosphere), and architectural photographers I have found are very tuned into shapes. Magazine and Print photographers are very conscious about space and shoot wide.
This isn’t as important as some of the other considerations, so it is lower on the list. If you have a listing in Pacific Palisades you probably want a Westside based photographer rather than a Photographer from the South Bay or Eastside. Some photographers will charge extra for travel. I will say this depends on the photographer, and a lot of Los Angeles real estate photographers I know don’t mind traveling- and won’t charge extra for a shoot so make sure to ask them. One thing I like about hiring a local photographer, versus someone outside the area, is the local photograph knows the neighborhood better and might have a better understanding of that neighborhood’s target market.
HANDS-ON / HANDS-OFF
Some agents must have been a photographer in another life. They like to fuss about everything at their shoots. A photographer who is open to direction is a better fit for this type of agent then a photographer who prefers shooting their own way. On the other side, I have noticed for very busy agents, they love photographers who are totally handing off. They can give them a key and a day and time, the photographer takes the pictures and they get them in their email in a day or two. They don’t have to go to the shoot. It saves time.
Photography from my observation seems to be a male-dominated profession, although I do see a lot more women getting involved nowadays which I think is great. If you want a feminine touch you may want to try a female photographer. If your listing is leaning toward the younger age spectrum- Hillside homes with stairs, Lofts, entry-level pricing, young age buyer markets like Playa Vista or Downtown and Hollywood you might want to hire a 30 something photographer to try and match the target age demographic.
1st Photo Shoot Tips:
James Moss shooting photoshoot of a townhouse in Tarzana
Tip#: Get out the way!
One of my photographers Dan Tacconelli always tells me to get out of the shot. You don’t want to ruin the photos you just paid for, so keep back a safe distance.
Tip#: Help Prepare the shots.
If you hire a photographer and they have no assistant, it will make the shoot go a lot smoother if you can help out a little bit. I always have an eye for removing loose items on countertops in the bathrooms and kitchens and hiding personal things for occupied homes. For Vacant homes, you may want to consider staging them so they will photograph better. There is a new product virtual staging which is very inexpensive and can be used as an effect on the pictures but won’t help with the actual showings.
Tip#: ART DIRECTION
What Are the selling points of the property? When you do a walkthrough of the space with the photographer if you have an idea of the style you want or the rooms that you want extra coverage in, you can make sure you get the shots you need for your marketing.