Drone Real Estate Photography

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links. Please see our disclosure to learn more.

When real estate agents put together listings, they need images that are going to showcase the property in the best possible light. One of the best ways to do this is with drone real estate photography and videography. Aerial drone photos have a dramatic, eye-catching look that will draw people to the listing and encourage them to contact the seller.

If you’re a drone pilot, real estate photography can be a very lucrative business opportunity. It can also be a lot of fun, as you’ll get to take photos and videos of fascinating properties and showcase them to their full potential. Here’s what you need to know about drone photography for real estate and how to get started.

Why use a drone for real estate photography?

There are so many advantages to using a drone for real estate photography and videography. They are particularly helpful for capturing large residential and commercial properties. Some examples of properties that require drone coverage include large residential communities or estates, farms and ranches, shopping centers, business centers, and hotels.

A drone is the best way to get a detailed aerial view of the property. Some exterior features are difficult to capture with traditional still photography, such as pools, balconies, and landscaping features. Drone photography and videography is also very eye-catching, and can help a listing immediately stand out from the competition. The images will look very professional and signal to a potential buyer that this is a property worth looking at.

There are some properties that may not need drone photography. Drones aren’t effective at capturing small interiors, and they aren’t always necessary to get exterior shots of smaller homes. However, for bigger properties, drone photography is a great investment.

What type of drone is best to use?

There are plenty of excellent drones on the market that work well for real estate photography. There are certain key features you’ll want to look for when selecting a drone for this purpose. The most important is a crisp, high-quality camera. If you’re planning on shooting video tours, 4K resolution is going to look the most professional.

You’ll also want to look at additional photography features that come with the drone. For example, some drones offer stabilizers to help you get clearer photos. Others will allow you to adjust the focus or resolution, or even shoot with different lenses. All of these features can give you more flexibility when it comes to taking photos for real estate. You’ll also want to make sure that your drone has a fairly long range, especially when you’re shooting properties with multiple buildings. The drone should have controls with a live view so you can see exactly what images you’re capturing.

Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that the drone you want to use has enough battery life to shoot all the content you need. Ideally, you’ll need a drone that can stay in the air for 30 to 60 minutes before having to recharge. Otherwise, you may need two separate sessions to capture all the content you need.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure your drone is durable and can handle regular professional use. Even if you’re a very experienced pilot, accidents can still happen, so you’ll want to make sure that your drone is durable enough to make it through an emergency.

There are several popular drone models on the market that work well for real estate photography and videography. The DJI brand has several different models with the battery life and camera quality necessary for this type of work. The Mavic range has options for beginners who want to learn as well as professionals who need a durable but fairly priced option for their work. For professionals who want to invest even more into their work, the Phantom has 4K resolution and other advanced features that can really set your work apart.

While DJI is the leading brand for aerial photography and videography drones, there are several other quality brands on the market as well. Parrot and PowerVision are two examples of drone manufacturers that offer models suitable for outdoor photography.

What kind of license do I need for drone real estate photography?

Before you get started with real estate photography, you’ll need to make sure you have the appropriate training. You’ll want to practice flying with smaller, inexpensive drones on your own property before you move on to any professional ventures.

In order to fly a drone professionally, you will need to get a license from the FAA and pass their Part 107 test. Luckily, there are many flight schools that offer courses specifically to prepare you for this test. The FAA offers their own online training course for this test, and there are plenty of paid and free training resources online for those who need more help. You can also look for an in-person training course in your area.

To take the test, you’ll need to make an appointment with the FAA through their online portal. The application will inform you of the documents you need to bring to the appointment. You can schedule the appointment at a local FAA office or with certain FAA-approved examiners. Once you have your certificate, you’ll need to make sure to renew it each year by completing the FAA’s recurring online training course.

You shouldn’t attempt to fly a commercial drone without the appropriate license. This could result in fines and other legal consequences if you are caught. Additionally, your clients may ask you for proof of licensing before you book a job.

How can I find real estate photography clients?

There’s plenty of demand for real estate photography and videography services right now, but you’ll need to know where to look. When you’re just getting started, you’ll need to build up your portfolio of work. One of the best ways to do this is by offering a free or discounted shoot to local real estate agents. Not only will you get material for your portfolio, but they may use your services again in the future if the job goes well. Networking is also very important when working in the real estate industry, and clients may recommend your services to other agents in your area.

You’ll only need to do a few of these free shoots to build up your portfolio. The next step is to set up a website as well as social media profiles for your business. Your website does not have to be intricate, but it should feature your work as well as your contact information. Having a website indicates to potential clients that you are reliable and professional. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can also be a good place to market your services. If you take this approach, you’ll want to make sure that you’re posting regularly and interacting with your followers.

Another way to find clients is by listing your services in drone pilot directories. There are several drone pilot networks online, such as SkyTango, Droners.io, DroneBase, and Local Drone Pilots Direct. Listing your services on these directories immediately indicates to a potential client that you have the necessary qualifications for the job. It also makes you easier to find, because many potential clients will go to these pilot directories first before looking elsewhere.

How much do drone pilots make?

One of the best things about working as a professional drone pilot is that you get to set your own rate and work for yourself. Rates for drone pilots vary widely depending on their level of experience, the market they work in, and the specific services they provide. Beginners might start out at just $20 or $30 per hour, but experienced and in-demand professionals often charge well over $200 per hour.

Deciding what to charge for your drone photography services can be a bit tricky at first. You’ll want to take your experience into consideration, but you’ll also need to make sure you’re charging enough to support yourself and cover any expenses associated with your drone photography business. For example, you will likely be paying for your own transportation, photo and video editing tools, licensing and insurance fees, and other business expenses, in addition to the money that you have already spent on your drone. You’ll need to make sure that these expenses are built into your rate. You’ll also need to keep in mind that you likely won’t be able to bill a full 40 hours each week. Therefore, your hourly rate should be higher for drone photography than it would be for a standard office job.

Keep an eye on what other drone pilots in your location are charging for their hourly rate. This can give you a good point of reference when setting your own rate. It’s also very important to make sure you’re increasing your rate every so often as you gain experience.

The real estate market offers so many great opportunities for drone pilots. If you’re already an experienced flyer, it’s a great way to make some extra money or even start your own business.

Jeremiah Burnett

What started as a gift for my two sons turned into a major hobby for me! After playing with my sons' quadcopter one winter afternoon, I quickly became obsessed with all things drone. I enjoy precision flying, creating stunning and smooth aerial videos, and taking beautiful photos of my hometown.

More to Explore