Frequently Answered Questions for Real Estate Agents

Living room interior :: Illinois Home Photography, Michael Gowin, Lincoln, IL

I’m an agent and I take my own listing photos; why would I want to pay you to do it?

For one, beautiful photographs will entice your buyers and have them (literally) lining up at your client's front door.

So, yes, you can take your own pictures. But here are three really good reasons to hire a professional real estate photographer:

  1. It builds your brand. 92% of home buyers now start their searches on the Internet, so they’re going to make assumptions about your agency based on the photographs they see in the listings. Photographs are the first “tangible” that online shoppers will associate with you and your brand. Do you have mediocre photos (like the majority of listings) or do you have really great photographs? Now think about sellers--don’t you think they’re more likely to choose you if your listings feature high quality photography?

  2. Your listings get more views. Research from national real estate firm Redfin revealed that listings featured with professional photography received 61% more views than comparable listings. When your listings attract more views, you're bound to win more sales.

  3. It attracts buyers. Research from Redfin also shows that homes showcased with high quality photography get a 47% higher asking price per square foot. Higher asking prices also translated to higher selling prices. For example, their data revealed that, on average, a $300k listing with professional photographs sold for $3,145 more than a house with non-professional photographs. And the higher the selling price, the greater the difference that the quality photographs made. Remember, of course, that a higher selling price means a better commission for you.

But why wouldn't I take my own pictures since I'm going to be at the house anyway?

It makes more sense for you to spend your time doing the things you do best:

  • Building relationships
  • Following up on leads
  • Developing your business

As an agent, the time you spend taking pictures and processing them on your computer doesn't get you more clients or sell your current clients' homes faster. You probably outsource other aspects of your business; why not outsource this task to a specialist as well?

What we're really talking about is using high quality photography as a better way for you to do marketing.

Every real estate company has a selling/marketing system. If you want to differentiate your business from all the others in your area, grow your market share, and build your brand, I think the simplest and fastest way is to improve your listing photographs.

Photo of Seth Godin via WikiPedia :: Creative Commons license

Photo of Seth Godin via WikiPedia :: Creative Commons license

I already have a nice camera (DSLR) with a wide angle lens. Why should I hire you?

Think of it this way: I have a basketball but I sure can’t play like Michael Jordan. I’ve seen lots of people wear Air Jordans but there’s still only one Michael Jordan. In fact, I’ll bet no one ever said, “Mike--those are really nice shoes. I’ll bet you score a lot of points with those kicks on your feet!” (Well, Spike Lee thought it was the shoes but we know better.)

I have a hammer but it doesn't make me a carpenter. You have a computer but you’re probably not writing novels like Stephen King. In the same way, owning a “nice camera” doesn’t make you a photographer. And there’s a lot more to making great property photos than simply having a camera.

This video by Boston-area photographer Brian Doherty sums it up well.

The bottom line is this: I'm showing up to make pictures that get results for you.

So what do you do that’s different?

That’s a great question!

First, I’ll consult with you to learn about the property and the features you think need to be highlighted. Then we’ll get a copy of my home preparation checklist sent to the homeowner to ensure the house looks its best when I come to make the pictures.

On the day of the shoot, I’ll arrive at the house and take a few minutes for a walkthrough, making notes about the rooms and features. I’ll typically photograph the exterior first and then I’ll come indoors with a couple cases of gear. Once inside, I usually photograph the bedrooms and bathrooms, and then move on to the other living areas: family room, living room, dining area, and kitchen. I'll also look for interesting features and appealing architectural details that will entice buyers to click through the listing photographs.

All the while I'm using my sense of design, eye for composition, and technical knowledge of camera and lighting gear to create beautiful photographs for you.

The images you'll receive will have straight verticals and horizontals--they won't be skewed in goofy ways or have horizons that tilt at odd angles. They'll be attractively composed and lit. My goal is to make pictures that could just as easily grace the pages of a magazine as they would a listing on your website,, Zillow, and Trulia. And I take the same care and approach whether it's an $80,000 home or a $10,000,000 home.

You said you bring “a couple cases of gear?” What in the world are you packing?

I have at least two camera bodies, multiple lenses, flashes, light stands, a tripod, and some other odds and ends at every session. Want to know more about what I use? You can see everything in my camera case in the video below (or click here).

Like I said, it takes more to do this right than simply having a camera.

Wow—that’s a lot of stuff. Do you really need all that just to photograph a house?

In a word, yes. Some property photographers use a technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing. This involves taking multiple exposures of the same scene and then blending them together in post-production.

Others put a flash on top of the camera when the rooms are dark and snap away. Here is the truth: this is the worst way to add light to a scene. As I mentioned in the gear video above, you will NEVER see me do this.

I use the HDR approach occasionally but I prefer to place lights in strategic and flattering locations within a room and then make one exposure. Whenever possible, I like to get the scene right in the camera since this minimizes my time on the computer later (which means I can get the finished photographs to you faster as well).

So how long does it take for you to photograph a house?

It depends on the size of the house, the complexity of the job, and how well staged the property is when I arrive, but 2-4 hours is pretty typical. If we have to move furniture or stuff, it takes longer.

What happens after you’re done?

The photographs are post processed and then uploaded to a private online gallery for you. I’ll email you the gallery login details and you can then download the photographs to post them in the listing. Turnaround time is almost always less than 24 hours.

The photographs you'll receive will be perfectly sized for MLS listings. I include a small watermark in one corner; if you'd like to include your own watermark, we can do that as well.

Who owns the photographs and how does licensing work?

Since I’m the creator of the images, I retain copyright ownership. The photographs are licensed to you (the listing agent) for the purpose of marketing the home. You may use them in print flyers and ads, on your website, and in your MLS listings but you may not give or sell them to the homeowner, builder, another agent or any other third party. If you'd like to use the images in additional ways, I'd be happy to discuss pricing for those uses with you.

Should someone else be in the house while you’re photographing it?

That's preferable. For liability purposes, it’s good if you (the agent) or the homeowner can be at the home while I’m working. I may also ask if it’s OK to move something in order to get a better scene in a room.

Speaking of liability, do you have insurance?

Of course. I carry a $500,000 business liability policy.

This sounds like a good idea. What do you charge to photograph a property?

You have three choices depending on your needs:

  • Starter session - $149 - Includes 15 finished high-resolution photographs. Best for homes up to 2,500 square feet.
  • Standard session - $249 - Includes 25 finished high-resolution photographs. Best for homes up to 4,000 square feet. This is the most popular option.
  • Premium session - $499 - Includes 30 finished high-resolution photographs as well as a pre-session walk-though consultation. Best for your showcase properties.

You can download my complete services and terms information here.

In what areas do you work?

For central Illinois clients, I’m conveniently based in Lincoln and can travel throughout the area: Bloomington/Normal, Springfield, Peoria, Decatur, Champaign/Urbana or farther. Locations beyond 20 miles from Lincoln (62656) may incur a travel fee. See my services and terms for details



Do you offer any discounts or deals? 

Yes! I'd love to work for you again and again so I've set up a great "frequent flyer" deal for you: after every sixth property I photograph for you, you'll receive a $185 credit for the next job. In other words, buy six then get one free.

Also, if you like the work you receive (and I hope you will) and you'd like to refer me to your colleagues, you'll receive a $50 credit for each referral who books me.

How do I pay you?

A check on the day of the shoot is great. Alternatively, I can email you a PayPal invoice that you can pay online with a credit card or from your PayPal or bank account.

I’m a builder/developer/business owner; can you photograph my property/product to help me with my marketing? What does that cost?

Absolutely! Featuring high quality photography of your business or product on your website and social media profiles is a terrific way to elevate your brand and build interest in what you do. Pricing, of course, depends on the job. Please contact me and let’s see what you need.

I need a new business headshot. Can you do that, too?

Yes—portraits are one of my specialties. You’ll find a wide variety of personal branding packages (AKA headshots) on my other site,

So how do I hire you?

Simple: Just click over to the Contact page and let me know how I can help you.