Getting into real estate photography might seem less troublesome than other genres. There are no crying babies you have to settle, no fake wedding smiles to capture or long hours waiting for the perfect sunset. All is still and quiet in a house. Walls tell no sad story, curtains are there to shield reflections and the pool is just as inviting as a glass of water in the desert. Point, shoot, and on to the next gig. Sounds just perfect for the budding, young amateur willing to make a quick buck. But then reality hits. Hard as a wall.

Without proper training, equipment, intense marketing and flair, an amateur stands no chance to make it big in this field. Not to mention the fierce competition.

So, how do you become a hit and manage to earn just enough money in real estate photography to make a career out of it? Let’s find out.

Develop a unique style

Decision time: will you be shooting real estate as a hobby or are you in this for the long haul? Because, if you are dead serious about building a career in this business, you should start by finding your own voice. Take a look at your competition, do online searches, view portfolios, and see how you could stand out. Maybe different angles or lightning will do the trick, or a whole new perspective – whatever you do, never stop learning and experimenting. “Professional photographer” means having a sound technical training and a lot of creativity. Another important thing is to have patience: a style develops in time and with experience. As the great Gregory Heisler said it, “what people want nowadays is a photographer who has a vision. Not a style, like a technique, but a vision. A way of seeing the world that is unique.”

Find your vision and don’t be afraid to make a lot of mistake. They will mold your true professional self.

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Broaden your horizons

Don’t do the same thing day after day. It will kill your creativity and destroy your chances of success. Specializing in real estate photography means that you’ll focus more of your efforts in this genre, not get stuck in a niche. Allow yourself to see beauty wherever you go and explore your craft. A trained eye is a stepping stone for that vision we were talking about earlier. The truth is that real estate is a tough business, with transactions and negotiations going back and forth, and it’s the photographer job to infuse it with beauty. To achieve that, you must branch out, from time to time. Play with street photography, immerse yourself in nature and get some perspective with the help of drones. Actually, you must do anything it takes to keep your creative juices flowing.

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Don’t spend too much on equipment

What equipment do you need to start earning money in real estate photography? A good camera and lens, a sturdy tripod, some decent filters and maybe, just maybe, a diffuser. Let’s not forget about imaging software, but there are plenty of free programs you can use in the beginning. That’s it, I kid you not. Everything else are accessories that make you look cool, not work better. Before you go on a shopping spree, ask yourself if you really need that new gadget you’ve set your eyes on. With a high quality but minimal arsenal you can gain experience, create a portfolio, get referrals and market yourself as a professional. That said, continue to invest in new equipment but only when absolutely necessary.

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Define your fees

Since you have turned professional, you must charge for your services. No more pro-bono jobs and no more helping your cousin sell his house for free. Again, look at your competition and compare your services with theirs. The best way to come up for a price is to charge 5% more than the rest. Why? Because price has a way of generating buzz and respect. It goes without saying that you must produce the best possible images for that price tag or else this strategy will backfire. Also, ask for a prepaid session fee.

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Better market your business

We all know that an online presence is a must nowadays, but is it really necessary to invest all your budget in a website? Of course not! Tailor your message to reflect your vision – your take on real estate – and make sure that message gets across. You can do that with a compelling copy and effective search engine optimization. Concentrate on attracting the right kind of clients through emotion and convert them into leads with the help of strong calls to action. Next, do an impeccable work and have a good interaction with your clients. After all, the best referrals come by word of mouth. With a clever message and a warm, human touch, you won’t need thousands to build yourself a name in estate photography.

Offline, presentation is the key. When you deliver your work, make sure it’s wrapped nicely, in a portfolio with your company name on it. Or on a CD/DVD/thumb drive with a clever cover and smart writing.

Closing thoughts

These tips are meant to help you start earning real dollars as a professional photographer. There’s still a long road to the top, paved with countless presentations, courses after courses, success, failure and sweat. Nothing comes easy, after all. But it gets easier with time and experience. If you are committed to your job, give yourself time to build a style, then millions will soon follow.