Why is photography so expensive?

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Short answer: "it's not".

"But", says the recession-ridden client, "we were charged hundreds of £s to get a photographer at the office. And thousands for our wedding!".

You'd be quite right. It is a lot of money. But let's do some sums...

We can't speak for wedding photographers, as we specialise in commercial photography for businesses. We are completely open about our fees, which include all post-production editing, image hand-over and storage. But, on more than one occasion recently, we've seen other commercial photographers charging around £100 for a photoshoot, which undercuts us considerably.

So how much work does that photographer's £100 entail? We can't speak for him or her, but our photoshoots almost always last a couple of hours and often considerably more. Let's assume a three hour photoshoot for that £100. That's £33 an hour. Not bad.

But then there's sorting the images and editing them. We estimate that we spend at least double the length of the photoshoot in post-production. So that's six hours on top of the three hours of the shoot. That's £11 an hour. Not so great.

Don't forget the hour (often more) spent writing a quote, liaising with the client, preparing and checking equipment and so on. We're now on ten hours of work for £10 an hour.

And then there's overheads. Cameras, lenses and a myriad of other technical bits and bobs, advertising, website hosting, networking fees, accountant, computers...Presumably the £100 photographer keeps his or her overheads low, so let's assume that 20% of turnover goes on costs. So that's £80 divided by ten hours or £8 an hour. Before tax.

So, £8 an hour for a highly skilled, professional and responsible job. £8 an hour as a reward for the risk of running your own business. At the time of writing, even the minimum wage is £6.31 an hour. Unless the £100 photographer has just started out and is portfolio-building, it just doesn't make commercial sense.

And from the client's point of view, well, you get what you pay for.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Image via Free Digital Photos.