‘Architecture’ vs ‘Real Estate Photography’ – What’s the Difference?

‘Architecture’ vs ‘Real Estate Photography’ – What’s the Difference?

Business Post-production

Several weeks ago during a conversation with a prospective home builder client, I was asked “what’s the difference between you and [redacted] real estate photography?” Now, to be honest, the builder was trying to push my buttons a bit to see how I would respond. See, when I quoted him my rates, he did a total per image breakdown and found out that what he would potentially be paying me for just one photo, is about what he pays this RE photography company to shoot an entire house!

Did I scramble and attempt to justify my pricing and/or offer a discount to win a new client? No, of course not!

I simply reaffirmed that they had seen my portfolio of work (which they had) and that the way I work is very different than your average real estate photographer. I offered to photograph one project of his and if he didn’t see the difference in my shooting technique and quality of the delivered images, then I would go away and stop bothering him. (I had tactfully been reaching out periodically for about a year or so)

But the conversation did get me thinking…

For some prospective clients, they may be used to only paying for real estate quality photos. So what do they think when an architectural photographer reaches out offering to photograph their projects for a significantly higher cost? What’s the difference? What exactly are they paying more for?

Disclaimer:

I’m not writing this article to badmouth real estate photographers. Please don’t take it that way. I shot mostly real estate listings for several years. As a real estate photographer, I realize you’re beholden to the nature of the industry which can have a very rapid, churn and burn pace to it. So as much as you’d like to take a shoot at a slower pace and take your time for a better quality image, often you just can’t…I get it.

(back to the article)

I would venture to guess one of the biggest differences is time. While the average RE shoot may take an hour or two, architecture photographers may be on a project for several hours, multiple days, or even weeks! These types of photographers want every single image they deliver to their clients to be absolutely perfect. Perfect angles, perfect composition, perfect staging, perfect lighting, etc. Real Estate, unfortunately, does not really allow for that luxury.

“The seller has an hour window at 11am where we can get in there to shoot. But you have to be done no later than noon, so we need to be in and out. Oh and BTW, we’ll need about 30 images of the property”

Yes, I realize time is not the only difference between RE and architecture photography, but it’s definitely a big one. Sometimes the difference is easier to show than explain. Take for instance this video I posted recently…

As you can see in the first part of the video, from setup to taking the last exposure…it took about 45 minutes! Not to mention the hour or so of editing it took on the back end.

Now let’s be real – not every person or business we reach out to is going to see the difference or even care. And if that’s the case, move on. Those aren’t the type of clients you’ll want long-term anyway.

So if prospective clients appreciate your quality of work, but say that you’re “expensive”…take it as a compliment. It means you’re doing something right.

About Matthew Anderson
Known by tens of people across the US, I'm a Kansas City-based architectural and interiors photographer. I think I take pretty decent photos, but my Mom thinks they're awesome!
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