10 Steps on How to Become a Professional Real Estate Photographer [2024 Guide]

Without the right plan and decisions, photographers may lack the necessary skills and equipment, ultimately failing to attract clients. Over the years, we've shared my first-hand experiences and guided photographers into successfully breaking into the real estate photography industry. This is why we’re revealing this guide on how to become a real estate photographer.

Roadmap to Photography Success: How to Become a Real Estate Photographer

To embark on a journey toward becoming a professional photographer in the real estate industry, create a comprehensive plan that outlines your goals, resources, and timeline. Assess your capacity and funds so you can invest in the right equipment and acquire training or certifications. Take your decisions seriously and commit to the process.

Various kinds of camera equipment laid out on a table

A photographer for real estate is not molded overnight. It starts with an idea, turns into a dream, and requires a set of actions to fully realize that dream. Professional real estate photographers are made through a series of actions that eventually propel them into the limelight of expertise that eventually puts them on top of their game.

Table detailing the steps on how to be a professional real estate photographer

Finally becoming a professional photographer means you’ve decided to take the leap and immerse yourself into a passion you know you will succeed in. Here are some of the things that you must never set aside along the road to being a professional real estate photographer.

1. Create a Real Estate Photography Business Plan

The business plan should outline your objective, your execution steps, and your sources of financial resources.

These three main categories will help you look at risks and keep an eye out for blind spots in your ideas when establishing your own business. You might also need to look at permits and such that you should acquire to operate legally.

2. Assess Your Funds and Operational Capacity

Financial capacity is about being able to start and pay for your initial costs while you don’t have income from customers and clients yet. 

  • You might need to get a loan or if your savings are sufficient, then you can go ahead and start procuring things you need. 
  • You will need to identify fixed costs and variable costs to account for everything. This makes sure that what you spend is also covered by the price you eventually set with your clients.

Operational capacity is meant for your post-processing. You are expected to go out there and take photos, which normally takes time, especially once you’ve established a good client base. With this, your editing time grows smaller and smaller. What better way to increase your capacity than by exploring outsourced services that could lend a hand or two in getting your photos enhanced faster and in volume?


3. Take Your Decisions Seriously

Time and time again, tell yourself that you should never give up. Choosing to go down this path to build on yourself and become the photographer you’ve always wanted to be is a decision and a dedication at the same time. 

Down the road, you will encounter situations that will discourage you or even question your efforts to become the best version of yourself. Think about what you want to achieve. The experiences, whether good or bad, contribute to the knowledge you will possess once you are at the top of the mountain.

4. Invest in the Right Equipment

Every photographer wants to have the most expensive and even the newest equipment on the market. A digital camera or a DSLR that just came out in 2024 would probably be able to take photos just as well as one that came out in 2023.

This is because the quality of the shots is dependent on the photographer's skills. Here’s a list of gear we recommend having:

  • DSLR body
  • At least two lenses of different focal lengths (one prime and one wide-angle lens)
  • Tripod
  • External flashes and softboxes
  • Shutter release systems
  • Photo editing software

As you earn more, you can invest in more gear, such as a few more lenses, including a zoom lens and another wide-angle with a different focal length.

5.Get Additional Training and Certifications

Real estate photographers do not require a license to offer their services, unlike realtors. Photography is generally not licensed or regulated at the state level in the United States, except for commercial drone photography in most states. However, it's important to check with local government authorities for any regulations governing photographers in your area.

Training can be extremely beneficial. It helps photographers learn common mistakes to avoid and deliver high-quality images to clients more efficiently. 

For example, the Real Estate Photographers of America & International (REPAI) is an Internet-based trade association that advocates for the success of certified photographers. Membership in REPAI can help new clients find you and provide access to resources and a code of ethics. It offers various training benefits to its members, including:

  • Online education courses
  • Business resources and contracts
  • Referral database listing

6. Practice Different Photo Editing Techniques

While there may be numbers that dictate colors and levels of light, the touch of an editor and their creativity still dictate the allure and beauty that are to come out of the final product. 

Man checking his camera settings

To evolve in this aspect, you must constantly experiment and practice to find out what works and what doesn’t. In effect, everything is done and experienced firsthand and through memory.

By mastering these photo editing techniques, real estate photographers can produce stunning, professional-quality images that showcase properties in the best possible light, utilizing natural light and appropriate shutter speeds during the shooting process.

  • Exposure blending: Combine multiple exposures to achieve perfect lighting throughout an image, especially when dealing with high contrast from natural light sources.
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing: Merge multiple exposures to capture a broader range of highlights and shadows that a single image cannot.
  • Color correction: Adjust the white balance and color temperature to achieve natural, realistic tones that accurately represent the property.
  • Perspective corrections: Use editing tools to straighten lines and correct distortions caused by wide-angle lenses.
  • Sky replacements: Replace dull or unattractive skies with more appealing ones to enhance the image's aesthetic.
  • Shutter speed adjustments: In post-production, simulate the effects of different shutter speeds to create the desired blur or freeze motion, especially for interior shots.
  • Object removal: Remove unwanted items or distractions from the scene, such as cars, people, or clutter.
  • Contrast and clarity enhancements: Increase the contrast, clarity, and sharpness values to make the shot more visually striking.
  • Virtual staging: Edit vacant rooms by adding digital furniture and decor to showcase the property's potential.

7. Market Your Services

Marketing means getting your business and services known to the public. Creating ads or even your website to get a better reach are ways for you to start getting clients. Real estate photographers can actively market their services in different ways.

  • Visit local realtor offices and drop off promotional materials, such as brochures and business cards.
  • Follow up with realtors via phone calls to reinforce your introduction and availability.
  • Inquire if a realtor knows any colleagues in need of your interior, exterior, or drone photography services.
  • Leverage the networking opportunities provided by professional memberships.
  • Attend local real estate agent gatherings or events.

8. Join Groups for Professional Real Estate Photographers

Joining industry-specific organizations can provide valuable resources and benefits for professional photographers in the industry. One such organization is the Association of Real Estate Photographers (AREP). By becoming a member, which costs $185 per year, real estate photographers gain access to the following advantages:

  • Certification with the Association, allowing the use of the AREP logo on websites and marketing materials, enhances professional credibility.
  • Access to an association-approved license for use with agents and brokers, which is helpful for proper legal agreements.
  • Legal counsel assistance, guiding licensing disputes or issues with agents, brokers, or MLS image usage.
  • Discounts on national conferences and events hosted by the association.
  • Listing in the association's directory, offering individual member pages for marketing and networking opportunities.
  • Advocacy and representation within the industry, fostering relationships with MLS organizations, and addressing concerns collectively.

Woman using a camera to take a photo outdoors

9. Build Strategies for Finding Clients

A study shows that realtors or agents who use professional real estate photos sell listed homes 32% faster. As a professional photographer, having a strong marketing toolkit is valuable for attracting new clients and showcasing your work. Here are some elements to include:

  • Business cards and a well-designed website should form the core of your marketing efforts. The website doesn't need to be overly fancy or expensive. However, it should be visually appealing, showcasing your best photography work, along with your location and contact information.
  • Avoid posting your pricing on the website unless you're confident that your fees are lower than those of competitors. Displaying prices can lead to a race to the bottom, with frequent updates to match or undercut the competition.
  • Instead of listing prices, consider creating an Instagram account dedicated to showcasing your photography services. Instagram is currently the top social media platform for creative professionals to display their work, as 63% of Americans use Instagram daily.
  • Implement a referral program, offering discounts to returning clients who bring in new customers. Word-of-mouth marketing can be highly effective.

10. Keep on Improving Your Skills and Business Strategies

There has to be a cycle of improvement where consistency becomes the driving habit that makes it happen.

Becoming a real estate photographer and establishing a business are two different things. You might already have acquired most of the skills you need, yet putting them into action still seems out of the picture. See how you can make this passion a career that lasts a lifetime.

The road to being a professional real estate photographer does not get covered overnight. There is an element of patience and hard work that, when combined, forges the road to success, which you must be able to ride out. 

In the process, take in the good and bad experiences and turn them into lessons. Make your knowledge and memory rich with the things that should and should not be done in building your career.

Related Questions

What Camera Do Real Estate Agents Use?

Real estate agents typically use high-quality digital cameras, such as DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, to capture professional-grade images of properties. These digital cameras offer advanced features, excellent image quality, and the flexibility to use various lenses and accessories tailored for real estate photography.

How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Photographer in the Real Estate Niche?

There is no set timeline for becoming a real estate photographer, as it depends on factors such as your dedication, skills, and business acumen. However, with consistent practice, training, and experience, many photographers can establish themselves in the real estate photography field within one to three years of focused effort.

How Do I Become a Self-Employed Photographer With the Right Gear?

To become a self-employed photographer with the right gear, start by investing in a high-quality camera, lenses, lighting equipment, and editing software suitable for real estate photography. Research and acquire the necessary tools and skills to produce professional-grade work, and then market your services effectively to attract clients and build a sustainable business.


Equipped with these helpful tips, you'll be well on your way to establishing yourself as a professional real estate photographer. With the right mindset, tools, and marketing strategies, you can turn your passion for photography into a thriving business.


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