How to Hire a Real Estate Photographer

According to the National Association of Realtors, over 90% of home buyers start their search online. And 89% of those people found photos of the property to be a key factor in deciding whether to tour the property. On the other side of the transaction, according to Zillow, when preparing their home for sale, the typical home seller will complete an average of three listing activities, including cleaning, staging, and photographing their homes. However, only 62% of home sellers bother photographing their home at all.

Whether home sellers handle their own real estate photography project or hire a professional photographer, one thing remains certain: professional photographs are an integral part of presenting your property to the world. The right photographs can mean the difference between a boon or drought of offers.

Where You Can Search for a Photographer

If you’re working with a listing agent, chances are they have a working relationship with their own real estate photographer. (Most agents have their own go-to list of professional service providers they prefer to work with.) However, if you’re selling your own home through the FSBO option, you can first begin your search by simply asking for photographer referrals from your local brokers. If you truly prefer to search on your own, we’ve put together a quick list of platforms free for you to use:

Craigslist. On this peer-to-peer marketplace, you can find almost everything for sale, including professional and hobbyist home buyer and seller services. Despite its simplicity, Craigslist allows you to refine your search locally, filter out spam, and contact potential photographers through a secure and discreet messaging service.

Angie’s List. Despite its name, Angie’s List is not a cheap Craigslist knock-off. In fact, Angie’s List was founded with the intent to only connect home service providers with sellers and other industry professionals. Angie’s List verifies and vets each one of its members, so unlike Craigslist, you know who is being honest and who isn’t.

Thumbtack. Borrowing off Angie’s List’s model, Thumbtack is another peer-to-peer professional services marketplace. If you are having trouble finding local real estate-specific photographers on Angie’s List, you can connect with other types of professional photographers on Thumbtack and see if anyone is open to handling property photography.

Stilio. Although their marketing suggests professional services to real estate agents, Stilio is a great way to find and book real estate photographers for home sellers as well. Simply enter in your address and preferred shooting date, and you’ll automatically see a list of local photographers with their introductory price.

How to Choose the Right Photographer

Once you’ve sourced a handful of potential photographers, you’ll need to whittle down your pool to one. The best way to choose your photographer is by checking their portfolio of past work, reading up on a few references or quotes from clients, checking out their backup equipment, and reviewing their contract.

Portfolio. A photographer’s portfolio is their bread-and-butter. A proper portfolio should showcase both their depth and breadth of experience shooting and editing. In fact, pay attention to their post-shooting process: how quickly do they process photos and what personal twists do they use?

References. Future employers leverage references while hiring potential candidates and so should you. Look to see if there are any online reviews on their Angie’s List or Thumbtack page.

Backup equipment. Every professional comes equipped with spare tools and so should your photographer. After all, if they are unable to overcome technical difficulties on location, the post-production quality could also suffer. Check to see if they have a spare body, lenses, batteries, as well as SD cards.

Contract. Your photographer’s contract is one of the most important yet most frequently ignored an aspect of the professional relationship by the client. Before you hire your photographer, read their contract to understand if 1) who owns the rights to the photos, 2) how cancellations are handled, and 3) the refund policy if either the photographer no-shows or fails to meet their end of the bargain.

DIY? Or Semi-DIY?

Your property photos are the first things potential home buyers will see. Hiring a professional photographer as part of your marketing strategy could be a worthy investment, but there is plenty of room for DIY photography if you have the right equipment. An entry-level DSLR in the right hands can outweigh the cost of hiring a professional. If you’re considering shooting your own property photos, check out our blog on DIY real estate photography.

In addition, consider the condition of your home: A professional photographer can only do so much with a property in poor condition. Before taking pictures, make sure your home is decluttered, thoroughly cleaned, and staged if possible. A photographer will ensure your home is captured under the best possible conditions and will create pictures with nice composition. You could have a beautiful home, but if the angles aren’t correct and if space isn’t shown in context, you might lose a large percentage of the house-hunting population.

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