Leading real estate photography companies have joined together to form the nation’s first trade group for real estate photographers. The Association of Real Estate Photographers (AREP) has applied for status as a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association with the Internal Revenue Service and has begun to accept new association membership for real estate photographers, real estate photography companies and affiliates.
“Real estate photographers are important partners providing many marketing services that increases a property’s total sale price and decreases the number of days on market,” says Paul Rodman, executive director and founding board member of AREP. “Their creative work is remarkably valuable and should be protected. Working together, we can continue to help homebuyers get a complete view of properties and avoid driving all over town while sellers get better-informed shoppers who are more likely to buy.”
Founding members of the Association of Real Estate Photographer include many of the leading real estate photography companies, including VHT, PlanOmatic, FloorPlans Online, Vizzi Media, Collabora (TourFactory), Virtuance, IMOTO Photo and HouseLens. The founding members represent a group of about 2,000 professional photographers who are either employees of the company or licensed sub-contractors.
Joining the founding members are a group of supporting charter members, which include Twist Tours, Future Home Photo, Virtual Access Tours, South Florida Virtual Tour, Motion City Media, Southeastern Shutter, Top Notch 360 Real Estate Photography, A Beautiful Dominion, East Coast Virtual Tours, Picture Perfect Properties and Boise Real Estate Photography. Charter members represent another 500 professional photographers.
One of the first initiatives of AREP is to develop a set of photography service agreements for use by members that clearly outline the license for the permitted use of photos and other media.
“Companies like Twist Tours have invested in the development of agreements that protect our photographers, and our customers,” says Allison Cartwright, Twist Tours CEO. “Twist Tours’ goal in joining the Association is to collaborate with other firms in our industry to raise professionalism and operate cooperatively with others to develop mutually beneficial standards that support the role of photography in real estate marketing without jeopardizing the assets of the photographers.”
AREP’s other initiatives will include developing professional standards, recommending best practices, offering education to members and creating certification.
AREP also is in the process of planning its first annual conference. The conference lineup will include orientation for new members, educational sessions on copyright protections and best practices for operating a photography services business, and provide a review of industry advocacy efforts.
Rodman recently spoke at the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) fall conference to share thoughts about image data standards being added to the RESO Data Dictionary with the multiple listing organizations, and how they can collaborate to better manage the rights of digital asset owners. AREP intends to work with the legal workgroup of the Council of MLS and the National Association of REALTORS® to develop a healthy ecosystem for digital rights management of property media.
Membership in the Association of Real Estate Photographers is available at AREphotographers.org. Individual memberships start at $185 per year. Membership is scaled based on the number of photographers working for the company.