Photographer per hour
An outline of typical costs
Prices for Real Estate Photography
Every week, almost without fail, I get an email or phone call with the potential client asking “What do you charge per hour?” – it seems it is the industry standard. We have been asked these questions for so long, and in so many different ways that we decided to expand upon our Photography Pricing page, and now include this huge list of answers to questions, which truly is its own FAQ of sorts. So, let’s begin to unpack how this should and could look.
The value of a “creative” service
There is no real way of saying that “this service” is worth “that”. In a perfect world we would have a nice market economy with a mix of skills, and perfect competition would bring prices down to a reasonable amount for all involved. Enough for a photographer to live, work well, feed his family, have a pension, but not so much that it is over the top and prices their business out the market. We are not Norway, nor China – we are South Africa and somewhere in the middle – and thankfully, I think the industry is quite healthy in terms of price. A few things I choose to remember that help me are: On one end of the spectrum, a bricklayer or street sweeper often earns R150-R250 a day, if that. A concert pianist or creative specialist can earn R30,000 a day (or much more depending) but they take years to hone their craft, and don’t get paid to practice.
A photographer is somewhere in the middle – not many of them are totally creative types who make a fortune on fancy advertising shoots; a lot of them work day in and day out to earn enough to get by. We want to strike a healthy balance by having time to improve our editing skills, do workshops, take creative trips, take holidays(!), and generally make sure our creative juices are still flowing but… still do enough hours and work that we are value for money. And that is where the main thing comes in:
Are the photos you want taken going to add more value than they cost?
If the answer is yes, then it is worthwhile paying for it.
What makes someone a ‘Professional Real Estate Photographer’?
We are a team of professional real estate photographers who all are experts in their own right, and operate individually. Photographers are like sailors or pirates, cowboys or cheetahs – we are best left to run all our affairs alone. Baithe Photography is aware of that but different in that it markets these specialised photographers as real estate photographers. You get all types of photographers but we are mostly interested in focusing solely on the property market. If you are a photographer I’d say unless it is very early days and you want to try learn tonnes of different styles of photography, rather pick one or two and do them excellently. Whenever I see a photographers website portfolio menu list “Weddings, Events, Sports, Newborn, Real Estate, Fashion, Product etc” I know that the images aren’t going to be incredible, because they have diluted their skill over too many styles. Perhaps after 20 years that changes though… who am I to judge..
As for real estate photography, It is a booming industry and there is a huge need for the these skills across South Africa, likely even Southern Africa. Previously we offered Floor Plans, Drone Footage, and other things (and we may one day again) but for now we really want to do the photography perfectly first. Video Walkthroughs are next in line (they are such good summaries of a place and appeal to more some folk), and we are starting to get into do 360 degree “shots” (with the “dollhouse effect”) too. These virtual tours previously were unappealing because of the need to depend on something that Matterport, but that has now disappeared with so many other helpful options to use out there, a good one being Cupix. I follow Ben Claremont on YouTube and it’s exciting how often the tech is improving in this industry. While before 360º stiches/walkthroughs could be painful they are now at a wonderful point. A key thing to note is that whatever you dive into, make sure you do not compromise on quality.
How much should a ‘Photographer per hour’ charge?
It depends on the photographer. Some photographers are living in Jo’burg, another in Durban, Port Elizabeth, and many of us are based in Cape Town – the mecca of all things photographic in Africa in many ways! We all have different living costs, and the markets are not as competitive in Port Elizabeth as say, Jo’burg. Added to that, a junior photographer with one year of experience shouldn’t earn as much as another with ten. And though everyone must be a pro and be able to match certain standards, it is totally fair to pay a better, faster photographer more as they will deliver quality product much faster. I strongly belive in the economimc idea of ‘perfect competition’ which lets everyone set their own price, and the market slowly separates the boys from the men – which is probably not such a policitically correct term to use anymore. What should you pay a photographer if you’re the client? I’d suggest you think about what value they add to your business, and compare it to their quote. When I started out, Real Estate agents wanted to pay R300-500 per home shoot and from my side, it just was not worth the time, petrol, effort etc. It may be different if they could guarantee four shoots a day of an hour each, all situated next to each other but a scenario like that has perhaps happened twice in six years.
Should the pricing for Hotel Photography be different?
The pricing spectrum for hotel photography is tricky as it is normally enormously expensive, yet really affordable considering you can recoup that marketing expense with enough bed nights. If we charge per hour, it can seem a tad expensive, so what is the industry norm is to charge a day rate and then guess the number of days. Day rates change per photographer but a hotel I quoted on a while weeks back wanted about 12 rooms, plus bathrooms, the restaurant, parking, swimming pool, and a myriad of other random rooms across the hotel shot and I quoted three days work. It will depend on your hotel and what you are wanting to showcase.
- Is every room different, and do they then all need to be shot?
- Do you really need 15 photos of each room?
- Could you use the excess photos on your social media, and perhaps news/blog entries on your own website?
- Is the photographer trying to charge extra because they think you have more money as you’re bigger?
There are a lot of factors to consider but maybe settle on something both parties are happy with.
What do Real Estate Photographers typically charge?
To start with, we almost always charge either day rates or an hourly rate for the shooting, and it depends on the person but some include editing with the shooting, others choose to charge separately. Added to that we include a travel charge, and accommodation in the unlikely event you cannot host us. Generally in this industry you stay with your client for the big jobs that involve travel. Free food is a nice bonus, as you don’t want your photographer disappearing into town for a sandwich half way through the day. I update our rates once or twice a year – it is at each photographers discretion – but normally stick to our hourly rates. On a side note, when a project gets as big as a hotel or giant lodge then there are so many details to ask anyway, it’s pointless to pin us down to a “ballpark figure”. Lastly, it’s important to factor in that generally we don’t charge for any admin like taking calls or sending mails, invoicing, planning and prep, and the actual time spent driving in the car – I personally don’t but perhaps some guys do.
How much does the typical photographer cost per hour, not just in real estate but in general?
They vary for each industry, in each region, and according to their skills, and I am sure also the flux of demand versus supply, something that is likely quite healthy for all involved. For us, our photographers go for about R500/hour to R1,250/hour though we average at about R850/hour. This makes it easier for everyone involved and the fact that we get so much traffic to the website and therefore business means we can afford to keep the rate that low. Some photographers we’ve chatted with are charging R2,000/hour and I am sure some are even far more than that – Adam Letch being a great example, though I have no clue to his actual pricing. They may be good, they may be the best, but that is not our target market – not yet!
For us, we hope to provide really high-quality images that will last ten years (or longer!) for the upper/high-end establishments. However, for those five-star hotels, we are not sure we have what it takes to make them perfectly happy. Our experience has taught us that those clients are often never happy and you can never satisfy them – unless you maybe hire models, a lighting team, bring in props, and decor, and spend days getting that “perfect shot”. This isn’t really viable as a business like mine and unless you are hoping to feature on Conde Nast Traveller and rent your rooms out for $3,000/night and can afford what it takes to get those shots, I’m not sure Baithe is for you.
How much do we charge for interior photography?
Interior photography is basically property photography and/or real estate photography so it is the same as above. What you may mean is “What does it cost to be styled?” to which I say “the same hourly rate as above” because taking photos or arranging a living room are much the same. They take skill, time, and effort – and if not doing the styling we could be taking photographs elsewhere, which, out of interest, is why we charge you for driving to you and back – it’s valuable time spent. As for the Real Estate Photography Rates per hour in South Africa, the “per hour” photography rates will differ within South Africa, and worldwide. Every industry is different and will depend on a multitude of factors. As we focus chiefly on real estate, it makes things a little easier.
Photography Prices in South Africa and/or hourly rates in general
Photography prices in South Africa are all over the place. It is a saturated market, yet there are often photographers who drop off the market to pursue others things. It is rare to hear of someone taking photos their whole life, even amateur hobbyists – we all need a creative outlet, and we often need to change things up a bit. Sure you may take photos for 20 years, but you will likely change your subject. I’ve done product, events, travel, properties, two weddings, portraits, and likely will move into other things in years to come. It is rewarding in that aspect: to use the skills you learnt in your previous genre in the next. The magic comes when the two skills “merge” and you create something unique.
We hope that answers the many, many queries we have received with the above questions, and those that relate to it. Please feel free to mail through any more at any time. We are here to help and serve this country in the hope that it helps the entire nation go forward, and make this place better for all.
We live in a free country and you are free to do as you please in terms of what you charge. So many factors come into play as to what you’d like to charge, and there is nothing wrong with shooting for free to get exposure and a portfolio, and for a big discount for the same end, or because you feel it will be charitable. All in all, taking photos as a career can be lucrative and well worthwhile but it is not for everyone. A key thing to think about once you decided on your pricing is actually your marketing – because you certainly need to have your services in demand before you even worry about your pricing!
Answers to Typically Asked Questions
Save us both some time by reading through these typical questions. You will thank us later when you’ve managed to prepare your property better thanks to our advice.
Read how copyright works for the photos we take. The basic things you need to know are that we own the photos and you technically “rent them” for life, and that we can never use photos of your property without your permission.
There has been a lot of noise made about this in 2018 and we’ve become compliant (to European standards) so you can know that time on our site is private.
Deposits & Payment
Sometimes someone really wants to secure a certain day. However, we may lose other work if we set it aside and you cancel. View our opinion here and see how the weather may mess everything up anyway!
A lot of people baulk at our per km rate but they fail to see that we are completely unproductive in the car getting to the shoot. View our thoughts on it all here so you don’t get surprised.
Terms & Conditions
A very boring document outlining some basic terms of how we go about work.
Learn what motivates us and how we choose to serve you.
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