Beginners Guide

A Guide to Licensing Your Past Real Estate Photographs

Licensing Old Real estate Photos

The bulk of a real estate photographers income comes from selling images to realtors who then use those images on listing websites. Once the house is sold, the realtor doesn’t have a need for the images any longer.

However, in some cases, there may be other parties that would be interested in using the images for their own brand or business. Licensing usage of the photos to third parties is a great way to extend the value of the images you captured.

This article will serve as a guide to start licensing your real estate photographs to other parties besides the realtor that purchased them and making more money!

Table of Contents

Understanding the Licensing Process

If this idea of licensing photos to someone else other than the person that purchased them sounds odd, or even unethical, then it’s important that you understand the licensing process. A deeper understanding will relieve all of your worries.

When a realtor hires you to photograph a house, they are not purchasing the photographs. Rather, they are purchasing the right to use the photographs in order to sell the house. The photographer holds the ownership of the images, unless otherwise stated.

So, this means that unless you signed something saying you agree to transfer ownership of the photos to the realtor, you are the owner of the images and the realtor is only licensing the right to use them.

This is important to understand for 2 major reasons:

  1. Since you own the photos, you can license them out to as many parties as you want, as many times as you want.
  2. The realtor can only use the photos to list the house for sale and cannot sell the images or send the images to any other parties.

Licensing is merely a way for people to purchase the right to use your images for a specific purpose. And since you own the images, you might as well try to license them out as much as possible.

There may be times that you choose to license your photos exclusively to one party, but what you always need to remember is that you are the photographer and therefore you own the copyright. The photos are yours to sell and license as you wish.

Licensing photos to several parties is neither illegal nor unethical. It’s a common practice that helps us as photographers grow our business and increase our revenue.

How to License Photos

Licensing photos is as easy as coming to an agreement with another party regarding a price and usage. This can be done through a Licensing Agreement Contract, which is a very powerful tool for real estate photographers to have at their disposal.

Here’s an example situation:

You photographed a house for a realtor and that house just happened to be professionally staged before hand. The person or company that professionally staged the home liked your photos so much, that they want to use them on their website.

In this situation, you would be paid by the realtor as you normally would, but then you would come to an agreement with the professional stager to give them the rights to use the images on their website.

Once you agree to a number of images and a price, you send them a licensing agreement and an invoice. That’s it. No more work required and you made more money of the exact same images you captured for the realtor.

Now, the licensing agreement is obviously a pivotal part of this equation. So how do you go about getting your hands on one of these? Well, there are a few options:

  1. Hire a lawyer to write one up for you and work with them to stipulate the terms you want.
  2. Use a professional service and just purchase a pre-written licensing agreement.
  3. Write it yourself.

Unless you have a legal background, I would highly suggest not writing it yourself. Although it may seem like a simple agreement, it’s always best to at least have a lawyer take a look at it.

That leaves you with hiring a lawyer, or purchasing a pre-written agreement. Both are good options, just make sure you do your research if you are purchasing a pre-written one before hand.

Once you have a licensing agreement so send out, the licensing process can begin.

Who Wants to License Your Photos?

To answer that question, you’ll have to get a little creative since every situation will be different. In the example I used above, there was a professional stager involved that wanted to use your images for marketing. Here are a few more examples:

Example 1

You were hired by a realtor to photograph a house that was very recently built. In this situation, it’s a great idea to reach out to the builder and the architect to see if they would be interested in using your images.

Sometimes that will be one company, sometimes that will be two different parties, or there could be several different companies involved. You can reach out to all parties involved in the construction process and see if they’re interested in using your images to market their services.

Example 2

You were hired to photograph a home for sale and the homeowner had previously hired an interior designer to completely redesign the interior of their home. You should reach out to the interior designer and see if they are interested in using your photos for marketing purposes.

If you know the homeowner hired an interior designer ahead of time, you could even capture some photos with this possibility in mind. So once you’ve captured all the listing photos needed, you could add in a few more that highlight the interior designers work more directly.

Example 3

You’re photographing a home that’s in a gated community and you photographed all of the amenities that the community has to offer. While photos of the pool, gym, spa, golf course, etc. will be great for listing photos, they’ll also make excellent marketing material.

Reach out to the community itself and let them know you just photographed a property for sale and captured some great photos of their amenities, which you would happily license to them for marketing purposes.

Example 4

A home that you’re photographing needs aerial photography it’s in a brand new subdivision. This new subdivision has quite a few homes for sale and your aerial photos outline the entire area.

You can attempt to license these aerial images to a number of different parties, including other realtors that are selling homes in the subdivision, the construction company that was hired to build the houses, and the firm that planned the subdivision.

All 4 of these examples are meant to show you that there are plenty of occasions where the realtor is not the only party that may be interested in using your photos.


If you think a bit creatively as to what companies or individuals might be able to use your images to their benefit, you’ll come up with a list of possible parties that want to license your images.

Licensing your photos to other parties is common practice in photography and is a great way to increase the value of each image you capture. It’s also a great way to land clients outside the real estate industry.

If you license some photos to an interior designer, there’s a decent chance they will call you to photograph their next project since they already know you are capable of capturing quality images of their work.

The same can be said for home builders, architects, professional stages, etc. If you’re photographing the work of some professional, there is the chance that they want to license your photos.

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About author
Matthew Digati is a professional Real Estate and Architectural Photographer. Matthew has worked as a Real Estate and Architectural Photographer since 2015 and has photographed properties and projects all over the United States.
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