Ultimate Guide to Commercial Real Estate Photography
Commercial real estate photography pertains to images of buildings, offices, hotels, restaurants, and other kinds of properties that have been specifically taken with the intention of using them for marketing and branding purposes.
They aim to make a listing as attractive and desirable as possible while not straying too far from reality. If you are considering commercial real estate photography for your listing or getting into the groove of starting your own studio, we have prepared a handy guide below on
- How to photograph commercial real estate
- Is this type of photography in demand
- What are tried and tested tips
- What is the average price range to expect
- Usually how many photos do real estate photographers deliver, and
- Everything else in between!
Types of Commercial Real Estate Photography
Commercial real estate photography includes interior and exterior shots, a street view, virtual tours, and in some cases, aerial photography.
While these seem similar to other kinds of real estate photography, what takes it apart from the rest is distinguishing where the photos will be utilized later on. More often than not, commercial property photos will be showcased on varying rental sites, social media platforms, and other listings. Commercial real estate can be categorized into 6 main brackets, namely:
- Medical establishments
- Salons, spas, other health, beauty, and wellness clinics
- Retail stores, the mall, and supermarkets
Outsourcing vs. DIY
Hiring a professional photographer has its obvious perks, but so does taking the pictures yourself! Below we explore the pros and cons of outsourcing and DIY methods.
Pros of Do It Yourself (DIY)
- Is more cost-efficient in the long term since investing in your own camera, equipment, and experience can save you from hiring a photographer in future shoots
- You get to learn new skills and with a lot practice, can acquire a new stream of income in real estate photography
- You get to decide how you want the photos to be taken and edited in post
Cons of Do It Yourself (DIY)
- Can be more expensive upfront if you do not already have the necessary equipment to shoot
- Can take up more time especially if you are still learning the basics of real estate photography
- Some types of photography will need licensing, which would incur added costs
- Professional photo editing software such as Photoshop will also need to be purchased
Pros of Outsourcing Professional Photographers
- Saves you time, energy, and having to invest in equipment
- You can benefit from the experience and knowledge they have acquired
- Could be more cost-effective if you do not always require regular photos taken, or can agree on a package rate
- Professionals are highly equipped with the necessary licenses and know-how to deliver high quality shots including aerial and twilight.
- Professional photographers take care of post-production as well, you will not need to worry about enhancing your photos or purchasing the software for it
Cons of Outsourcing Professional Photographers
Can be quite costly depending on the type of shots you need, the number of photos you get, and who the photographer is.
Commercial Real Estate Photography Licenses
Because this type of real estate photography is intended for commercial use, a license is needed when publishing the photos. This license helps regulate how clients can use the photographs, much like a lease license with its own limiting terms and conditions.
More often than not, fees for professional photography are inclusive of marketing usage agreements already, which covers most marketing image usage rights. However, there are other types of usages that are not under the commonplace agreement and may come at a separate price. This is why terms must be clearly stated and concurred upon to avoid miscommunication and conflict.
The contract between the professional photographer and the client protects the rights of both the photographer and client in cases wherein copyright violations have been made. In order to uphold the value of this, licensing fees are usually higher than the creative price.
Top Commercial Real Estate Photography Tips
Painting a commercial property in the best light for potential buyers or clients can be achieved through tried and tested ways. We have gathered our top 6 commercial real estate photography tips that you can try out for yourself:
How To Prepare For A Shoot?
When planning to hold a photo shoot, preparation is definitely key. There are a lot of things that are not under our control such as the weather, natural lighting, and other elements, so we should take the effort to prepare everything else outside that scope. Also anticipating the things that could fall through will help us think on our feet and devise a plan B.
Some of the things to consider when listing what to prepare are:
- Type of building or property that needs to be shot
- Where the property is located
- The possible weather
- Other buildings surrounding it
- The environment and activities it is in close proximity to
- Lighting – both natural and artificial
- Staging – both traditional or virtual
By keeping these in mind, you can better gauge the kind of equipment you will need, what angles you want to shoot from, what lighting equipment can enhance the natural light in the area, what time of day is best to shoot in the area, and so on.
Timing Is Everything
Timing in photography applies to so many aspects – lighting, foot traffic, weather, delivery schedules, and so on. A good checklist to consider when getting your timing right is:
- When is there most adequate lighting?
- When is the best time of day to shoot?
- When does the weather clear up?
- At what times is the property full of people and also what time is it usually empty?
- At what time does the sun shine on the front exterior of the property?
- What are the delivery schedules of their suppliers (and their neighbor’s suppliers), to ensure there are no trucks or buses during shoot day?
Always factor in delivery time to ensure your project stays on track since rushing through the process may yield mediocre results. The turnaround of photographs depends on many factors, including:
- Availability of photographer
- Availability of property / client
- Complexity of the photo shoot (does it need staging, special lighting, special times of shoot, and other similar factors)
- The number of photos needed
- How much post-processing needs to be done on the photos
Commercial Real Estate Photography With a Drone
Investing in a drone or hiring a professional for aerial photos can truly leverage your commercial real estate photos. Because a lot of commercial properties have more to it than the entrance and a few corners, a bird’s eye view of the whole area can really give your potential clients or buyers a clearer idea of your property and all it has to offer.
With drone shots, it is most essential that the weather is in good condition; otherwise it would be too risky to send a camera flying above head. Drones also have rather limited flight times so planning out your shots ahead is advised.
For those looking into investing in their own drone, keep in mind that you will need a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – approved license in order to fly it. This license is necessary for when you are using the drone for business or commercial purposes. This requires you to undertake an aeronautical knowledge test, which would cost you some study time and around $150 to acquire.
However, is it well worth it to get drone shots of your commercial property? We break down the advantages and disadvantages of aerial shots for your listing:
Advantages of Drone Photography For Commercial Real Estate
- You can showcase the entire property
- You can highlight the vastness and just how big the property’s area is
- You can feature more amenities in one shot
- You can achieve more dramatic angles that make lasting impressions
- Drones have the ability to capture a more natural virtual tour of the property due to the programmable flight paths and other features
Disadvantages of Drone Photography For Commercial Real Estate
It can be quite costly considering drones have a hefty price tag and not everyone can expertly pilot one in a professional setting without paying for classes or investing time in acquiring lessons.
How to Market a Commercial Real Estate Photography Business?
The most efficient way to get noticed as a commercial real estate photographer is to have a professional, impressive, and readily available portfolio online.
Gathering enough content for your portfolio can be made easier with the help of colleagues, friends, or even kind strangers willing to give their input. This way, those that curate your best shots are seeing them with fresh eyes and come from an unbiased perspective.
Position your portfolio in such a way that you can easily speak to your clients. It is also advisable to build it in separate categories such as a portfolio for hotels, a portfolio for offices, and so on.
One great way to showcase your work is through a simple and efficient website that not only exhibits your project experience but also gives future clients the chance to contact you via multiple channels.
Your website can also include an About Us page to give a brief background on your business, on yourself, and the goals you envision. A blog section can help establish your authority in the industry and instill trust among your target market. Filling your webpage up with articles is also essential to getting your SEO ranking up given that you are asking (and answering) the right questions while using the right keywords.
Last but not the least, networking can do wonders for your marketing efforts. Get to know the establishments in your area to learn more about their needs.
Photography prices vary on many factors, such as:
- Type of property to shoot
- Where the property is located
- Ease of access to the location
- Amount of preparations needed to be done
- Complexity of the project at hand
- If 3D or aerial photography is to be included
- The number of shots needed
- Usage license
Photographers also have the option to price their work either on a per photo basis or a per day basis.
For daytime photographs, the average cost for photography is between $150 to $350, while dusk or twilight photos can go for an average of $750 to $850. For real estate drone photography, prices can go up to $150 to $300 for a set of 10 photographs.
Rates that are agreed upon on a per day basis should already include the editing and post-production process necessary for the final number of photos ordered.
For a more detailed list of estimates, here have broken down three general project types and the type of fees they may incur. Please note these all can change depending on the factors listed above and just represent a ballpark estimate of the industry in general.
For a mid-rise office building
Photographer’s Fee: Around $1,250.
- This includes planning, scouting, a full day photo shoot of either daytime or dusk/ twilight, and a standard Marketing Use agreement.
Digital Production Charges: Around $550.
- This includes digital capture, processing of RAW files, gallery previews, the final high resolution file preparations, delivery of around 10 final high resolution photographs, finished TIFF files, an image library of each photograph un-retouched, and JPEGs suitable for on-screen usage.
Other Production Charges: Around $325.
- This includes assistant fees, expendables, mileage, and other miscellaneous fees.
TOTAL: Around $2,125
For a small retail property
Smaller retail properties may not require interior shots as the main intention of the marketing materials is to highlight the location, neighborhood, parking, landscaping, and the like.
Photographer’s Fee: Around $975.
- This includes planning, scouting, a partial day photo shoot of exteriors, and a standard Marketing Use agreement.
Digital Production Charges: Around $375.
- This includes the final high resolution file preparations, delivery of around 5 final high resolution photographs, finished TIFF files, an image library of each photograph un-retouched, and JPEGs suitable for on-screen usage.
Other Production Charges: Around $35.
- This includes expendables, mileage, and other miscellaneous fees.
TOTAL: Around $1,385
For a large 3-building, mixed-use property
In this example, the property is much larger and has more spaces to capture. This type of project will most likely need more than one day of shooting.
Photographer’s Fee: Around $2,400.
- This includes planning, scouting, two full days of interior and exterior photo shoots of both daytime and dusk/ twilight, and a standard Marketing Use agreement.
Digital Production Charges: Around $800.
- This includes the final high resolution file preparations, delivery of around 15 final high resolution photographs, finished TIFF files, an image library of each photograph un-retouched, and JPEGs suitable for on-screen usage.
Other Production Charges: Around $350.
- This includes assistant fees, expendables, mileage, and other miscellaneous fees.
TOTAL: Around $3,550
Commercial real estate photography is a great industry to tap into since more and more businesses are realizing the power that visual marketing has and the gravity it possesses in a competitive field.
Now that you have a more comprehensive understanding between the different options that fall under commercial photography in the real estate world, you should be well on your way to making the best decisions that bring your business the right customers and a steady flow of clients.