Like anything else in life, this photograph is not free. If I chose to allow someone to use it without paying me, that’s one thing. But you (random person in the world) cannot use this photograph without asking me first. Or paying me first.
This photograph costs $10,695, even though I license it for much less. Let me explain.
This photograph was made with help from the following products. You’ll see the prices next to each item and the total below. Close observers will notice I also rounded each product higher slightly. That’s to simplify because there is also tax included on many of the products.
- Nikon D700 – $3000
- Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 – $1900
- Promote Control – $330
- Really Right Stuff Tripod – $1280
- Adobe Lightroom – $150
- Adobe Photoshop – $500
- Photomatix Pro – $100
- ColorChecker Passport – $100
- ColorMunki – $400
- Memory Card – $100
- Local Storage – $600
- Offsite Backup – $600
- Cloud Backup – $200
- Website Hosting – $1200
- Photo Proofing, Sales & Delivery – $150
- Gas & Tolls – $30
- Copyright – $55
The total cost of all of these tools and services is $10,695, and that does not include my own time which is also extremely valuable.
This also doesn’t include my time gaining experience, like college and photography classes, online courses, in-person workshops and so on.
The point of all of this is to remind photographers to charge for services and licensing what you’re worth. I’m not saying to charge by adding up all the little things that go into one single photograph. I’m not saying to charge every customer the cost of your camera. I’m saying to remember that a lot goes into every photograph, and you need to take that into consideration.
And for customers to remember how much is involved with a single photograph, beyond just the physical aspects. Photographers require training beyond college. They require experience. All of that comes with a price.
So next time you’re asked for free usage of one of your photographs, do something like this. Show what makes the photograph so valuable. But also explain the value of a good photograph beyond the numbers. Go into the creativity behind the photograph.
Lastly, if you are still thinking you should charge $10,695 for a single photograph only because of the software and products you purchased to make the photo, you’re taking this article way too literally. And if so, please re-read it.