December 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm #5383
I genuinely LOVE photography. Someday, I hope to be good enough to charge and maybe call it my career. My photography wishlist now sits at almost $15,000 and that is why it remains a wishlist. I realize that equipment doesn’t a photographer make, but I did come across this post and found it very interesting. And honestly, despite knowing how expensive it can be, I have solely focused on what it takes to make a good picture and haven’t even begun to delve into what it costs to run a business.
I would love to hear thoughts.December 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm #5386stefModerator
I won’t go to that link because it’s obviously disguised spam.
If you have a specific question, post it.
Those are my thoughts.December 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm #5388IntuitionMember
Stef I clicked it, adn it’s an actual blog. if that helps. It’s mostly a rant on a slightly inaccurate break down of yearly costs vs charging.December 30, 2012 at 8:39 pm #5390cameraclickerMember
You can take a good photograph with a cell phone. Unfortunately, it is a bit more difficult to take a nice close up of an eagle flying, or a whale breaching, with a cell phone, so a more capable camera is needed. You can move up to a point & shoot, but while some of them have a long enough lens, they don’t focus quickly enough and there is shutter lag, so you move up again to an SLR. Costs and weight go up each time. The subjects may change but the concept remains, if you have to get a good photo, no excuses, you need equipment that will deliver. As is pointed out in some of the comments, her list is missing a few items and is a bit optimistic. The point of the blog is that it costs money to photograph at anything beyond the casual hobbyist level and if you are going to do it professionally, you have to understand your real costs and charge enough to cover your costs and make a profit so you can continue to do it.
That’s basic business. It doesn’t matter if you are a one person shop or a multi-national with thousands of employees, if you don’t cover your costs and make a profit, you will be out of business. The only difference is the one person shop may be out of business in a year or two and it may take the multi-national ten years.December 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm #5392
I was kind of wondering if some of her costs were exaggerated. Obviously people aren’t buying a new camera body every single year, but some of those up front costs are daunting, if they are accurate.
@stef, I’m sorry if that looks like spam but it was a blog post I came across today. I’m not affiliated in anyway with her, I was just curious about what others thought of her “estimates” and actual quoted costs and if they were in line with others experiences.December 31, 2012 at 2:18 am #5395NightroseMember
In short: yes it costs a lot to be a pro.
That blog may not have the exact numbers that every pro photographer will have, but included are many of the costs that do happen, such as gear, web hosting, insurance and whatnot.
I’ve just built a studio. Costs included: Arctic white paint for the walls and ceiling. Blackout curtains for the windows in my room. A large piece of seamless vinyl laid on the floor after having to rip the carpet up (try putting backdrop paper on a soft surface – ugh!). Two large pieces of wood screwed into the wall to provide a strong support for the backdrop brackets. Two rolls of backdrop paper – black and white. Chains to lift and drop the paper easily, thus eliminating the need to schelp the bloody things up onto the brackets all the time.
Gear: Three head studio lighting kit. Cable to set off the lights from the camera (Pocketwizards are going to have to wait as they cost way too much), gizmo to remotely trigger the camera shutter, props for posing, like a funky chair and a beanbag.
And I still want a beauty dish, grids, continuous light, softboxes of various sizes and all sorts of bits and pieces which will have to be purchased somewhere down the track.
And that’s not counting all the actual camera gear I have – bodies, lenses, cards, bags, insurance….blah blah blah.
But hey, it’s only money 😉December 31, 2012 at 2:24 am #5396stefModerator
Okay, cool. People leave comments like the OP all the time on my blog, and it’s all spam. Sorry if I called you out on a false alarm. I can just imagine the shock the blog owner will have when seeing all those referring URLs from YANAP. lol!
I can tell you there are a lot of costs associated with it. Besides the obvious equipment that depreciates quickly (3 years maybe max), there’s travel, sales, insurance, more insurance, licensing, taxes (and more taxes), even more taxes… and then you kind of want to retire sometime, so there are more deductions you have to take from the money you can spend. You’re paying self employment tax, sales tax, and federal income tax.
The cost of photoshop + lightroom is around $1200. And while that will last you a little while, it probably won’t be able to read files from your next camera unless you upgrade.
The laptop you buy needs to have an appropriately high color gamut. Mine has around 95% of sRGB. That cost me an extra $500 or so.
My lenses are easily the ~$6500 quoted. That’s one of the most important expenses. And I don’t even have a couple of the really good ones I need, and I use *all* of the ones I have, except the backup lenses for emergencies.
Some of those numbers are low, too. A studio lighting setup can cost you 3-10x the $1500 she listed. Backgrounds are another several hundred and need to be replaced periodically.
You need a certain amount of equipment and money at startup. You need to have a license and insurance and transportation. But you don’t need to have all of that equipment at once just to take a good picture. But it definitely limits your options when you don’t all the equipment you need. I don’t have an 85 1.2, and there are a lot of times I could have used one.December 31, 2012 at 9:52 am #5397
Thanks everyone. And @stef, I never thought about her getting traffic from here, but I suppose I should have. The post title probably didn’t help either. Thanks for taking time to give me input.
I really appreciate all the feedback. Like I always say, I’m still trying so hard to learn and like to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground with real expectations.
I agree though that you don’t need all of it at once to take a good picture, but limits options. I am not even close to a pro and I know I’m limited in my lenses sometimes when I try to get pictures of my own kiddos. I realize it will take time and am trying to save as much as I can to pay as I can afford to do so with cash. And my “wishlist” is only lenses and a camera body upgrade (mine’s over 3 years old and not a full frame). I have so far only been working with natural light. Though I need to expand my horizons when I can master that.January 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm #5416SharraModerator
@Stef: You may be aware of this, but Adobe’s Creative Cloud is $50/month for as long as you want it and you’ll always get access to the latest versions of Photoshop without upgrade costs. If you’re using any amount of Adobe software, it may be a worthwhile investment. You may even get a $30/month for a year promotional offer like I did.January 14, 2013 at 6:28 am #5539EvilDaystarMember
You may be aware of this, but Adobe’s Creative Cloud is $50/month for as long as you want it and you’ll always get access to the latest versions of Photoshop without upgrade costs. If you’re using any amount of Adobe software, it may be a worthwhile investment. You may even get a $30/month for a year promotional offer like I did.
50$/month = 600$ a year.
Photoshop retail is 725$ but can be good for at least 3 years so 725$ / 3 years = 240$/Year.
So 3 year of retail = 725$ vs 3 years of Cloud = 1800$.January 14, 2013 at 8:26 am #5542soaringturkeysMember
Fun fact about being a Pro.
If you have the portfolio, you don’t need to have all the equipment.
Your client pays for your gear hire. For example I budgeted for 2 Carl zeiss lenses, 5d mkiii and the client payed for it all.
Providing you are doing big client work not just little small business stuffJanuary 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm #5548SharraModerator
@EvilDaystar: Yes, that’s true only if you use Photoshop and nothing else. Even adding Lightroom would still be less cost as many photographers use both. But if you want to use Flash, Dreamweaver, or Fireworks for your web site, InDesign instead of Word, Publisher, etc. for marketing materials, those costs can easily add up on an individual basis. Even getting Creative Suite CS6 Design and Web Premium, which includes Photoshop CS6 Extended is $1900. If you use your kid’s student ID, you can get Master Collection for around $900 like I did a couple years ago. Then there are upgrade costs to consider. If you can’t or are to busy to design the website yourself, you hire a web designer, which will easily cost over $1000 if you want to reflect your professionalism for your online presence, thus $725 + $1000 at a minimum is near $1800.
Granted, Creative Cloud plus outsourcing web design would push the costs much higher. But the initial cost of the website would not be reflected in “upgrades” to it. Plus if CS7 comes out tomorrow, you have instant access to it, with no upgrade costs. As I mentioned, new subscribers may even get the first year for $30/month = $360/year.
I’m not saying Creative Cloud is for everyone, but I use enough Adobe software to justify the cost for me.January 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm #5555EvilDaystarMember
Yes, that’s true only if you use Photoshop and nothing else. Even adding Lightroom would still be less cost as many photographers use both. But if you want to use Flash, Dreamweaver, or Fireworks for your web site, InDesign instead of Word, Publisher, etc. for marketing materials, those costs can easily add up on an individual basis.
I was not aware that it was their entire line of products for 50$ a month … that does change the dynamic quite a bit.
But seriously, Flash doesn;t work on tablets and smartphones and tablet sales will surpass laptop sales this year so if you are designing your website with flash in it … you are doing it wrong.March 31, 2013 at 1:11 am #8360edwardmonroeMember
Regardless of how expensive it is, if you really wanted to do photography, it will be good that you will pursue what you want. But being in photography, there are many lessons that you need to do or must have. Graphic designing is one of the skills that photographer must have.
Edward of Superbuzz.ca – website development vancouverApril 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm #8484gordonl09sMember
First off, the CS Cloud is totally worth the monthly charge. I’m only paying $30 a month for my first year since I was a previous owner of the Master Collection. I use PS, AE, Premier and Story mainly but I occasionally use AI and ID as well. So the cost is worth it to me, even at $50 it’s worth it to never have to purchase another upgrade.
As far as the cost of being a pro photographer, I’d say $35k is on the modest side. I’m starting to see a lot of talk online about this very subject. I believe the $50 for a CD fauxtogs are starting to realize that there is no way they can make a profit. The unfortunate fallout, in my opinion, is the mass of consumers who now expect their photography to be dirt cheap. I took a good hard look at what I’d like to be making if I did photography full time. After adding in all the expenses and Uncle Sugar’s 35%, I have to get my clients to spend about $1650 for a 2 hour portrait session. And that’s at 4 clients a week. I can’t imagine the work it would take to get 4 clients a week that could afford to spend that much on photography. However, it should open your eyes to what the real cost of photography is.
This is a great article on this very subject. http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/2009/10/12/how-should-i-price-my-photography-words-of-advice-from-jodie-otte/
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