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. Great photos stand out and get more clicks in online listings than average photos.

Secondly, beautiful photographs build 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?

Are you saying I shouldn't take my own listing pictures?

Doesn't it make 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.

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.

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

Wow—you bring two cases of gear? 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 1.5-3 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.

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?

I work faster when I'm on my own. Please let me know ahead of time 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 $1,000,000 business liability policy.

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

Please contact me for pricing details.

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.



Do you offer any incentives for repeat business? 

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 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.