Drone Real Estate Photography - How to Start?



Drones have revolutionized photography. Drone photography has only been around for a couple of years, yet it has made a powerful impact in the photography industry. We will provide you the best tips to become a professional drone real estate photographer in this post!

Drones have revolutionized photography. From the start of pinhole camera to the latest mirrorless technology, human's desire for perfection has never semmed to stop. Drone photography has only been around for a couple of years, yet it has made a powerful impact in the photography industry. The real estate industry seems to get the best out of drone photogrpahy, especially when it comes to bigger properties, or a piece of land.

Some of the common types of properties for drone photography are: residential real estate, commercial real estate, and a practicular area of land. 

These aerial photoshoots will make the property more appealing to buyers and will likely close the deal faster. The purpose of this blog post is to guide you - like a thousands of photographers how to properly capture photos like a professional, and we will give you every basic thing you need to know to make the best out of your experience.

What is the best drone for real estate photography?

As tempting as it canbe to buy a drone, most people buy a consumer-grade UAV with built-in camera. However, when it comes to buying drone for real estate shooting, it is best to get the high-quality one that is within your budget. Price can rage between $500 to $2,000. There are several factors you need to consider are:

Quality of Camera: A professional-grade camera is advised to help you capture the best and most professional shots possible.

Battery Life: For an average residential real estate shooting, you will probably need one hour and even more so when it is commercial real estate. Make sure to keep this thing in mind. The last thing you want is to have a dead battery drone in the middle of the project. 

Flight Modes: Some drones come with pre-programmed flight modes that allows you to get more special shots. Whether you are brand new to drone photography, or an experienced photographer, these modes can really be useful for capturing aesthetic and dynamic shots for your real estate clients. 

Payload Options: Many experienced photographers attach a second camera to the drone as it will help them to get much better images. You might want to think about it whether your drone can carry more payloads. 

A few of our suggestions are:

- DJI Mavic Mini - For Beginners 

- DJI Mavic Pro 2 - For Professional Photographers

- DJI Mavic Air 2 - Both For Beginners and Professional Photographers

How do you find drone real estate photography / videography clients?

When you are just getting started in drone real estate photography, it can be very hard to get attention. A big question is often asked - How do you get clients if you don't have a portfolio? And how do you build a portfolio without clients?

Free Shoot Approach

One common approach to build a portfolio and client base is to give free shoot to clients. You can call the realtors in your area to set up meetings and offered each one of them a free shoot. Remember, result doesn't come overnight, so be consistent. When you get the opportunity, be sure to showcase as much skills as needed to impress your clients. Once they are happy with the results, you will more likley to be connected and reffered to other realtors. You will also be able to build your portfolio and expand into other areas. There are a lot of properties having trouble selling, so to be able to help them out, you will not only have a chance to showcase your skills, but also to help closing up the deals for the realtor. 

Other Approaches

Although some photoraphers have much sucess with the free shoot approach, you don't have to give away anything to grow a client base and your portfolio. Here are some of the ways to get you started:

Word of mouth: Explore your already establised network to see who might get you connected with a realtor in your area. Once you land the first client, it will be easier to get another.

Search online: Go to websites such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, and many others for job openings. Enter your location and search for keyword related to drone photography, drone pilot to see if there are any openings in your area.

Drone pilot network: You can still earn money while do real estate drone photography for the drone pilot network to build you resume and portfolio.

How much can you charge for drone photography?

The big question - How much will you make for doing drone real estate photography?

The answer is - it depends and it varies. Some pilots make $25/hour while others can charge up to $300 or even more per hour. 

Like any other photography skills, the money you earn doing real estate drone photography depends on your level of experience and the diversity of your portfolio. Location also plays an important factor. For instance, you will earn more money in big cities such as Los Angeles or New York compared to other cities due to higher cost of living. 

The good news is that you can start by charging low prices - let's say, around $35/hour- as you develop your skills and build up your client base. Once you get more experience, you can charge more.

Guideline for Pricing Your Service

"Are my skills worth $50/hour or $200/hour"? To remove some of the uncertainties, we provide a guide to help you price your service to your client.

1. Annual cost 

When considering prices, it's important to look at your expenses - the money you have already invested and will be investing in your business.

Create an amount you need to cover your expenses, such as gears, craft, insurance, education, and other related fees. The number you come up with should cover the expesne for the entire year.

2. How much do you want to make?

Be realistic. Gather general information about the average industry pay, and competitors' pricing and costs, then you will have an idea what you should make on a yearly basis. 

3. How many hours you can work per year? 

Think about how many hours you can work per year, consider sick days and vacation as well. 

Keep in mind that 40 hours can be too much per week. In addition to the hours you bill your client, you will need time for editing works, sales, and other tasks that needed to be done. When you take everything into accounts, 30 hours per week seems reasonable. 

4. Final step 

Now you have everything you need, add all the numbers together then divide that by the total number of hours you can bill in a given year. And there you have it - the price you will need to charge to make a living and cover your expenses.

Do I Need A Drone License?

In the Unites States, yes. If you are doing any type of work with a drone, in this case real estate drone photography, federal laws require you get the cerification as a commercial drone pilot by the FAA. You must meet a number of requirements, such as passing the FAA's Aeronautical Knowledge Test, known as Part 107 Test.

Now you know the basic steps to real estate drone photography, go out there, get a drone, practice and build up your skills, and have fun!


Here at CosyFoto, we specialize in editing photos for every industry, especially real estate photoshoots. Contact us to get a quote and we can't wait to work with you!