Cost of Photography – Part II

Is your time worth anything? how about your skill as a photographer? Is your unique perspective of capturing a place or thing something that warrants extra consideration when deciding on the cost of a particular photograph?

These questions are somewhat subjective of course. In part I of my thoughts on the “Cost of Photography” I discussed more tangible items of cost like Cost of printing, cost of matte boards, and assembly of these things to make your photograph ready to sell. My matrix showed how this is simply broken down in hard cost numbers and how you can begin to determine what a particular photograph you have taken could be sold for… and so that you aren’t just giving your work away for free.

As I have dealt with questions of my pricing for my work other questions have come up that I think are important to consider too. Lets take a look at a couple…

1. Time=Money. How long did you spend creating the actual photograph? I mean, setting up the shot, getting to that location, releasing the shutter, and finally getting the photo and processing it (out of camera).

2. Cost of equipment. Yes, camera equipment isn’t cheap.

3. The Value of Art and the uniqueness of the artist.

To break up each of the three points above, I’m going to only cover #1 in part II. I meant to cover all of these in this post, but as I’ve starting writing there is just too much to cover in one blog post (I’d fall asleep reading it all, so I can’t imagine what you would be doing :)).

First, time is money and is something that you can establish tangible quantity to. For instance, I know that if I went out to create a cityscape shot I would have a travel time (round trip) of about 30 to 45 minutes from where I live to the city. Then, if I was capturing at sunset and after, to capture a colorful shot of city lights with a beautifully colored sky, I would be out snapping shots for probably 30 minutes to an hour.

After I captured the shot I would return home, upload my shots, sort through them, and then begin editing the shots I felt worth something. All told, before I even have a single shot digitally ready to sell online or ready to send off to print, I’ve spent anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours of my time creating an image (for the sake of this post I’m assuming that I was able to create 1 useable shot on this particular photo shoot).

How long does editing an image take? For me, when doing cityscapes I would probably say I’d spend 30 minutes, on average, for each image I’ve created. So, lets add that to our time we’ve spent already on the lower end of our shooting time mentioned above. This puts us at 2 hours of time creating an image ready to sell. Now, how much is your time worth? For simplicity sake I will use the $50/hr rate in this example. So, if time=money how much has our time affected our cost for a particular photography print?

Total hard cost to print an 8×10 $8 (rounded) + 2 hrs @ $50 ($100) = $108

Sounds pretty good, right? You are saying to yourself “wow, I’d love to sell an 8×10 for that much”… to quote those wonderful old $19.95 commercials you see on TV “but wait, there’s more”!!!  Yes, there really is but you will have to wait. Equipment cost is real and I’ll talk more about this next in Part III.

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  1. Cost of Photography Part III « WSM Photography Blog

    April 28th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

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

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