What’s the deal with the high cost of photography?
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What’s the deal with the high cost of photography?

The norm is: If it is good, and you need it, pay the price. And that is the case with photography, but What’s the deal with the high cost of photography?

The high cost of photography happens because it has a lot of hidden aspects involved in its production that the “normal” consumer doesn’t know about.

It takes much more than just a click on a button to make good photography. Today I will give you a brief insight on why photography is so expensive, and why these huge price tags might be more right than wrong.

5 Dollar bill - What's the deal with the high cost of photography?

What is involved in professional photography prices?

The first thing to keep in mind is: What is involved in the cost of photography. And there are a lot of things involved here. If you look at it more closely, you will see that behind that guy or girl with a camera, there is a business that needs money to survive. It’s not just a person who loves their hobby and decided to do it for a living.

Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to throw shade in any profession here. But when talking about freelancing, or conducting my own business, I always got some weird feedback from potential clients saying to my face things like:

“Why do you charge so much? You work with what you love.” Or “You artists need to get back to reality, you should charge less, after all, it’s a fun job that you do.“

And here is the case, working with something that love has nothing to do with starving to death because I cannot afford my utilities by the end of the month. Ok, the rant is over now, back to the topic.

Sometimes people have the wrong perception about some fields, and most artistic-related professions receive this heat.

Business sign. Open

Running a business in a small niche, photography, is not easy. There are a lot of things that you as an owner or photographer have to do, or pay for, in order to maintain a healthy business and more importantly a healthy professional life.

Just like any other business, a photographer has rent, taxes, utilities, transportation e much more he has to pay for in order to operate as a business. And guess what, this money doesn’t come from the sky.

Different from a bakery or a restaurant, which can streamline their product production and then run to get clients and sales.

A photographer depends on the scope of the project and or client to start a plan on how to execute the job, and define all involved costs. It’s not a simple task.

Flatlay, photography and video equipment

If you think that pricing professional photography has the same cost as passport photos at Walmart, you are completely mistaken.

Professional Photo or video shoot associated cost

I will be very brief here because this can change depending on several factors, but just for to have an idea, here is a list with a few costs related to photography:

  • Production costs (All costs involved with personal. Assistants, producers, editors, etc.)
  • Permits (Not every location can be used without paying some amount to the owner or institution that holds the rights of using the location)
  • Cast (Beautiful models and actors have to feed their families also, and sometimes these costs are aggregated to the final product price.)
  • Travels (Sometimes a photographer has to travel a couple of miles just to make the job happen)
  • Insurance (depending on the project a production company, or a photographer, have to put a system in place to assure the well-being of everyone involved in the project)
  • Equipment (This is a huge cost that a professional photographer have to take, even before he or she has any client)
  • Expertise (Knowing what you are doing, is the differential between a good job and a poorly executed gig)

From the top of my mind, these are some costs associated with a photo job, and sometimes the client does not see these costs, because they are much more involved with receiving the final product, instead of producing it.

Is it worth spending on a professional photographer?

The answer to this question can be also difficult because it will depend on why and what purpose this material will serve.

Hands with coins

Let’s say you are on vacation and want to register the amazing time you are spending with your family or loved one. I would argue that this is not a situation that someone would likely spend money hiring a professional photographer.

But, by all means, if you have the money and are interested in the quality of the final product, go hire someone to follow you around and grab great images of your memorable trip.

On the flip side, if you are getting married, this is a situation that without a doubt you want to have all your bases covered.

The cost of photography for weddings is high, and I can say that it should be, after all, it is an event that almost everyone what to capture because this is likely to happen just once in a lifetime. 

So investing in a professional photographer to cover your wedding is a must for the majority of the couples out there.

Or if you have a business that needs a new marketing campaign, hiring a commercial photographer will make your life much easier.

Putting money on expertise, know-how, and of course quality image will bring you better results than snapping everything with your iPhone and calling it a day.

There are a lot of reasons why big companies rely on other professionals in order to execute certain aspects of their business.

Even though the cost is high, it is way cheaper than to maintain a photographer on their marketing team 24/7, and the results and insights given by someone that only does this for a living are invaluable.

However, if you don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer or if you feel that this is not the moment to pull the trigger and invest in yourself or your business, there are some solutions that might help you.

Options to cut costs with photography services

This can be a great as valuable solution for some, and a waste of time for others. But spending money on stock images or videos can change the way you perceive photography for your company.

I am not saying that you cannot spend money on it, sometimes it is cheaper and way easier to just go to a stock site online and buy a license for a picture and start using it on your website or catalogue.

But keep in mind, this is not a tailored solution for your business, It is certain that out there are another 88 businesses doing the same thing and using the image the same way you are using.

But this is definitely a way to keep with the trends without spending lots of money.

This solution does not work for certain niches of photography, like weddings, so, or you bite the bullet and invest in a quality professional, or you might regret still death tore you apart.

Final Thoughts

Besides all the costs of running a business, a well-established photographer brings with him/ her the expertise, the practice, the know-how, the problem-solving skills.

All of this to make you or your business look the best it can be on an image, and this is what you are paying for.

Hiring someone with experience in their craft is something that everyone should have in mind if they don’t know how to solve the problems themselves.

You will be much happier with the results that a professional in their craft can give, and you will see your money being well spent.

Don’t forget that even though photography is an art it has the power to communicate the message you want to pass along, and because it is an art it will be always subjective, but also it will be appreciated by those who value the care on how thing are shown to the world.

And what’s your opinion. Why do you think photography is expensive? Leave your thought in the comments. !

Written by Rix Mascarenhas

Rix Mascarenhas is a photographer, videographer, and drone pilot at https://www.jivephotographic.com/

Art lover, always involved with crafts, design, painting etc... As a photographer, I enjoy taking pictures and creating stories that have meaning and help people to thrive. My work is guided by the stories behind each scene that really represent the moment.

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