I've had a few people ask why as a commercial, lifestyle, and advertising photographer do I shoot property as well.
Well, I've got a number of reasons for why I do which I'll share with you in this blog post.
It's just fun for me!
Property photography requires a different set of skills and techniques to my usual commercial work, so it's great fun for me to shoot something a little different.
It's also nice to photograph something that's still, and won't move or blink from time to time.
Photographing people in a lifestyle environment is awesome and one of my favourite things to shoot, but sometimes it's nice to take a step back and be an introvert and photograph a house or commercial property that I don't have to make conversation with!
I deal with a lot of private property investors. I find these people so interesting as many I’ve dealt with have over 10 properties and usually another business behind their property business.
Or in a couple of cases, they’ve built a large business and then sold that business and put nearly all the money from that into property.
Quite a few of these investors have become friends and even mentors, and I’ve learnt and am learning a lot from them about business, finance, and investing.
A lot of them are also very well connected and have a good network of other business owners that maybe one day could become a client, or someone else I can meet and learn from.
I go into every property shoot with a licensing mindset.
Property photography is much lower paying than my commercial work. So I go into every property shoot thinking how I could possibly make some additional income from the images I take.
Can I take photos of appliances, door handles, taps, showers, etc that I can then licence to the manufacturers?
Sometimes I send them for free, and it’s become a good way to introduce myself to a new company I’d like to work with in the future. - Just another way to network and get introductions to potential commercial clients.
It tends to be regular, quick, and local work that I can do all year round, as it’s mostly inside.
Big advertising jobs don’t come in every day for me, especially as I’m still finding my feet having started my business in December 2019, just before a global pandemic!
So these smaller regular jobs are the "fast pounds" that bring a good amount of cash flow in my business.
As they’re smaller lower paying work. I use 50% of the money I make from them to reinvest back into the business, saving for new equipment, marketing etc.
I also use the other 50% of the money I make from the property jobs to invest into my stock portfolio.
I get to shoot some amazing luxury properties too. I find these so good for visualisation for my life.
For large properties I can spend maybe 4-6 hours shooting them, so during that time I can really picture myself living there and imagine what I can do with each room.
One of my goals in life, especially after living through coronavirus times, is to be self contained, meaning to have everything I need in my home. - A photography studio, office, and gym.
So when I’m photographing the larger houses I’m really picturing myself living there and having those things all there in one place.
It keeps me in contact with estate agents who can find me good deals, sometimes before a property comes onto the market.
I also shoot a lot for a lot of other property investors, so I can chat to them about how they've structured a deal, how much their refurb was, which builders they use and trust, etc.
It's also a great way to find out what my local area is like too, and what houses are selling or renting for what amount, and how quickly they typically rent out or sell.
Ok, so all of the above are little reasons why photographing property is good for me right now.
However, here's the real big reason for me photographing property....
It's so I can build a business I can sell at a later date.
The problem with being a one person, two, or three person "business", is that it's not really a business, it's a profitable job.
If I want to retire and sell the business, I won't be able to as the key ingredient in my business now is me!
Clients hire me for my work and my specific look and voice as a photographer. I can't sell the business as it's me people want to hire!
So here's the plan...
Right now I'm photographing the properties myself to build relationships and create a style that my clients like, that's maybe a bit different from the usual London interiors photographs you see out there.
By the end of 2021 I'm looking to employ my first staff member that I can train to photograph and edit all the property enquiries I get in my own style.
Right now I'm getting 2-5 calls a day asking for property photos in Reading, London, and Surrey.
I know that's not loads of calls, but I just don't have the time anymore with commercial, advertising, and lifestyle work coming in thick and fast, so I need to employ someone to start to look after the property side of things for me.
Then once that person is busy, I'll employ another, then another, including a manager, a book keeper, and any other staff I might need for the business to keep growing.
The long term plan is to build a team of at least 40 photographers up and down the country to look after all the property photography for me, so I can put my efforts into marketing the business and also shoot all the commercial and advertising jobs that I really love to shoot.
None of this is going to happen overnight of course. This is part of my 10-20 year business plan.
I think it's so important to have a 90 day, 1 year, 5 year, 10 year, and 20 year plan for your business.
Start with the end in mind and have a good idea of what the business will look like when it's finished.
If I want to retire as a one person business, I'll need to have assets, pensions, savings etc.
However, if I have a business that doesn't actually need me in it for it to function and be profitable, with employees like staff photographers and managers, then that is a legitimate business I can either sell for a lump sum, or continue to own and keep taking a wage from it.
That's just one of my photography business plans. I have some other photography focused businesses that are in the making too, but I'm not going to be so open with those. Not yet anyway ;-)
Anyway, I hope that gives you an insight and understanding as to why I photograph property. It is unusual that an advertising photographer would shoot such a thing, but as you can see, I have a plan for it, so I need to put in the work myself now in order for that plan to come to fruition.
You can view my property photography portfolio by following the link here: https://www.stuartbaileyphoto.com/property-photographer-london
Phone: (+44) 07762 900 132
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