Pope Sixtus IV needed his chapel painted. He asked a cardinal if he knew a guy who could do it. Sensing a chance to save some money, the cardinal said sure, he knew someone. Over the weekend, he got a few bishops together with paint rollers and some buckets and they went to work, getting the entire project done on time and under budget.
But when Sixtus showed up on Monday, he wasn't happy with the work. Sure, this might be fine for Canterbury or Notre Dame, but this was the Vatican, he had to do something better. He'd heard of a guy in town doing some great work—maybe this Michelangelo could do something.
Alright, that didn’t really happen, but something similar is happening to real estate websites every day. Sixtus had the full faith and credit of the Roman Catholic Church, but you've got a budget and a boss. You have to get work done on time and under budget. Today's smartphones can take great pictures, so you might be tempted to snap a few photos on your own, but hiring a professional photographer can pay off in ways you might not expect.
Just as you understand how to stage your property, a professional real estate photographer is going to understand how to use the angles and the lighting to highlight the advantages the property has to offer. You've seen the real estate websites where the unexpected reflection catches the agent in the background. That unintentional selfie immediately kills any professionalism the website could have created. A professional photographer is going to frame the picture to highlight the advantages your space offers.
Florescent bulbs may provide the light and efficiency a modern office needs, but they're not always the best for showing off the property on a website. A professional photographer is going to have the lighting equipment to make the property sparkle, maybe literally.
More than just the lighting, the photographer is also going to have the software to edit the pictures before they go on your website. The photographer going to know exactly what to look for in a picture to be sure that it is capturing your site perfectly.
The fact is, photographers work freelance. They are self-employed or small businesses who need to generate work. They have a market rate that is the accepted cost for what they do; however, you have room to negotiate. Can you offer them steady work over a long period of time? That's something every freelancer looks for. You want Michelangelo, but you do have that pesky budget to remember.
The cost is going to vary widely depending on your market, but it really isn't the central factor. When looking at whether or not you can afford it, consider how the cost of having photographs taken and processed professionally compares relative to your potential income. If you are trying to lease a commercial space, think of the rent you're losing when people pass by a listing because the photos don't command their attention. Suddenly, a $300 photo shoot may seem like an easy cost to pay.
You also have to consider what your time is worth. Are you more effective working on converting contacts into customers or editing pictures?
In today's ever-connected world, you have to find ways to set yourself apart from the other real estate websites. Hiring a professional photographer could be just the thing that draws the masses to you and away from the guy down the street.
To learn some other helpful real estate marketing tips we encourage you to download our Real Estate Marketing Checklist or read more of our real estate marketing specific blog posts.