Cost of Photography Part III

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

What about your cost for equipment? Should this be a consideration in your pricing? maybe we just take the pricing from Part II we came up with and decide that a portion of that would be towards past/future equipment. That’s great, but you had to fork out money originally to even be able to take a picture. So, why would you not consider this as a cost that should be reflected in your price? Afterall it stands as a negative, in your balance sheet, towards the money you potentially will/can make.

Camera equipment isn’t cheap and it seems there is always some new piece of equipment we have convinced ourselves that we “need” to have (legitimately and sometimes not so legitimately). So how does the cost of equipment relate to pricing of your work?

When I first started thinking about selling my work I was shooting with a Canon XTI (400D). The camera was a big step up from the point and shoots I had before that and really opened my world to new ways of capturing images. The purchase price of that camera, with an upgrade lens from the kit lens, was a hair under $1,200. A lot of my earlier work was taken with this camera, and even the first year I shot contract doing architectural work I shot with the XTI.

So, lets say we wanted to figure out how I could relate the cost of equipment into my pricing. Wear do you start? Well, what is the life of the equipment you shoot with and how often would you upgrade to more expensive or newer technology? In my case I shot with my XTI for almost 2 years. I produced a lot of portfolio worthy images and sold several pieces during APE’s shows and also online to individuals and for publication in various magazines and books. For the sake of this discussion though we will just focus on selling prints and how this can reflect in pricing to help in covering equipment costs. Must of this is serious questimation but atleast gives us a baseline to start from.

We will start with the time frame of 2 years plus the cost of that particular body over that time. In that time frame I will take a estimation of how many prints I would sell within that span of time. For this I will just consider the camera body with lens cost as this was the bulk of my original cost. Like in part two this becomes a formula…

5 Prints per month x 12 months (year) = 60 x 2 (for 2 years) = 120 prints.

$1,200/120 = $10.00

So, it would be safe to say we could add $10 per print to compensate for a minimum of equipment cost based off of the cost of the camera in which I used for the span of that 2 years (Keep in mind that if you decided to purchase a new body, an upgrade in technology, your cost on the equipment would probably go up. It is possible you could add in a little more to cover this future cost).

So where does this put our formula for pricing a print?

Total hard cost to print an 8×10 $8 (rounded) + 2 hrs @ $50 ($100) = $108 + $10 (equipment) = $118 lets round that up to $120

Before deciding that $120 is our final selling price what about the unique artistic value that you bring to an image? Is all this getting exhausting? 🙂 Well, I’m going to say that it is not an easy thing to add a price for artistic value, but that I think it is worth consideration. The question then becomes is your work worth more than the $120 we have come up with? Are you or your work known that it would be in demand and people would be willing to pay the amount of money we have come up with for an 8×10 print? I don’t think, at this point we can assign a formula beyond the $120. If you feel your work is unique and there is a demand for your work that the market would be willing to pay, by all means charge more. I’ve read where artist are charging $200 for an 8×10. These are artists that are purported to be established and in “demand” for the work they produce. Are you on of those artists?

In conclusion… I have learned a thing or two putting these blog posts together. The real eye opener for me was the original break-down of what I called “hard cost” in part I. When putting that together I started to see how important it was to not just “invent” a number in selling my work. I hope that if you have made it through reading this far that you have found some benefit to the things I have brought up. Remember that your work does have value and the value you set says alot about who you are as an artist as well as a business person. Don’t undersell yourself. Not only does this cheat you but it has adverse effects on other artists too.

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