By Matt Van Emmerik

 

I am an Interiors photographer and videographer that is passionate about creating quality imagery. I’ve noticed over the years that more and more “real estate photography” companies have surfaced and quality seems to be less prevalent, being replaced by financial motivation.

Some of these companies are pop up companies trying to fill another job description on their resume of photography services they offer. You will usually see Weddings, Family Portraits, Baby Photography, Landscape Photography, Product Photography etc on their websites because they feel the more diverse they are, the more professional they will appear and therefore they will make more money.

I also see more film companies jumping on the Real Estate bandwagon offering Real Estate videos. They are usually young students that have recently graduated film school with dreams of working on Hollywood productions but quickly realize once they have entered the real world, that there isn’t much work out there for them. Getting that work requires a lot of experience, time and money to invest in yourself so they use Real Estate as a means to an end. When asked if they also offer photography they almost always say yes and the result is…well, I’ll keep it neutral here.

These pop up companies see an opportunity to cram as many shoots in as possible, hire any photographer with minimal training in order to make as much money as possible. They appear to the realtor clients in which they are targeting as a booming, successful business which is the goto company for all things real estate. Some will offer photography, video, aerial services, 3D tours, floor plans, feature sheets, websites and everything an agent could ever need for marketing. This makes them very appealing to realtors but if you look closer you’ll see a problem with this business model in most cases.

The problem I see with this type of business and rapid growth is that first and foremost you need to staff the company in order to provide all of these services. In some larger markets this isn’t a problem providing full time work to multiple employees but it doesn’t work well in smaller markets because this business is somewhat seasonal. By seasonal I mean it comes in waves and every year is a little different and tough to predict. Keeping staff on hand for the long term can also be a logistical nightmare. Teaching someone how to use a Matterport camera is fairly simple with minimal training time, however teaching someone how to shoot a twilight photo, shoot video or interiors photography takes a lot of time to do it properly and consistently between the different shooters. This brings me to continuity issues. Working to a formula works in some businesses however photography and videography are both artistic and require a special eye and years of experience to do it well.

Let’s say employee Amy shoots great interior photos and Joe shoots HDR photography, you’ve got a serious problem with continuity which your clients will pick up on and start requesting a specific photographer which makes things difficult to juggle during peak times. It also shows your clients that you offer different levels of quality and that will scare high end cliental away.

This high volume business model also hurts the industry for those that put more focus into a quality product. It floods the market with less than perfect photography and videos, which can ultimately tarnish and sadly, define a marketplace. If every realtor is on a level playing field offering the same level of photography for their listings, then they are happy as they pay less and that is ultimately the most important thing for a lot of agents.

So to conclude, there will always be options for Realtors when choosing photography companies. I don’t believe quality alone will prevail, nor will low prices. If you’re passionate about and offer a high quality product, don’t be persuaded into lowering prices or trying to match these high volume companies. Clients will come and clients will go and that won’t change. Stick to what you do and keep these companies in your rear view mirror and you’ll do just fine. Even more important to a successful business model is a high level of customer service, flexibility, professional appearance, fast booking and turn around times and overall ease to work with. These things will all come much easier to those that are passionate about what they do.