Cost of Photography – Part I

A couple of months ago I was sitting down analyzing what my hard cost really are for my photography – specifically prints. I show some of my work a couple of times a year in a gallery in Castleberry Hill as part of APE’s gallery event. I have also been contemplating creating an online store to sell my work. This analysis led to start asking questions and wonder how artist figure out how to price their stuff.

In my contemplation of an online store I started to consider what my asking price would be for particular prints and print sizes. I started to think about why one piece might be more valuable than another and what would be a good basis to start from in my pricing. There are many factors involved in pricing so lets take a look at a few.

1. There is the actual hard-cost of creating the physical print; having the digital image printed.

2. There is the format it will be presented in (ie. matte and frame, canvas wrap, etc.), which involves the cost of those materials that are part of that presentation.

3. How much time does it take to assemble the presentation and how much is that time worth?

These are straight up hard-costs related to just producing a print once the image has been created and ready to sell. We haven’t even gotten into the time/cost of the actual creation and capturing of the image when you click that shutter and finesse the image in your post production processing, as well as cost of equipment, etc. (I’ll discuss these things in part II).

So where do you start? Size of course is a factor (yes, size does matter) and so that is where I started. When you send off a image to the print lab there is the cost of paying for a particular print size to be printed. Obviously an 8×10 will be cheaper than an 11×14 or 24×36 print. So, when figuring out how I might price my work, just based off of hard-cost alone here is a little matrix I put together to help me see how this would all play out. Keep in mind that the pricing of the prints can very, depending on what lab you use, but for the sake of this post I used because it is who I use and they are local to me here in Atlanta.

To explain what you see above. The first column of course is the size of a particular print. The next column is the cost, per the time I checked with myphotopipe’s website, for that particular print size. I typically will use the Kodak Lustre for my prints so I have used that price. The next column over is cost for a matte board for that particular print size. My costs on this are taken from redimat online as well as some guessing as a few of the sizes I have are not “typical” for redimat. Next is my time to assemble the actual print to a matte for framing or selling. My formula for this is based off of an hourly rate of $50/hr and how many of these I feel I can put together in an hour. I’ve taken some liberties here but this is just a rough estimate. The bigger the print and matte the less I feel I would put together in that hour. The next line is the combination of the print cost, matte cost, and the assembly time cost. This gives us the basic hard-cost of what a print, for a particular size, costs to be ready to sell.

The last line is something I’ve thrown in as an indicator of possible cost for a retail type of sale for a print. I’ve basically added a 3x multiplier to get this number. This of course doesn’t cover a lot of other factors I will talk about in my next post, but it does start to give you an idea of what kind of numbers you would start to think about to actually make something (money) from the work you just produced in creating a print.

Part II I’m going to cover some other not so apparent costs related to pricing photography prints. So, stay tuned…

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  1. […] Part I / Part II  – If you haven’t read these do so first to give context to what I’m about to discuss. […]

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