Kaitlin StrykowskiComment

The REAL Cost of Photography. How Much Did it Cost to Create This Image?

Kaitlin StrykowskiComment
The REAL Cost of Photography. How Much Did it Cost to Create This Image?

If you have ever looked into having photography services done, you may have thought the following:

"I can't afford that"

"You charge THAT much?!"

and the dreaded, "Why does photography cost an arm and a leg?!"

And I TOTALLY get it from a clients perspective. You see photography services with a price tag of $$$+ and wonder why it costs SO much for portraits. You don't see all the behind the scenes work (which is most of the work), so it's hard to grasp why we charge so much. Now, there are a million articles out there about why photography costs so much, but I feel this article will really help the CLIENT understand the true meaning behind why photography services are priced the way they are. And here is why we.


This image cost $3,240 to create


Yep, you read that right. The above image cost ME $3,240 to create for you. Every image I create takes $3240 worth of material to create. Sometimes it costs more. You might now be wondering where did I get this number? Let me break it down for you;

To create this particular image (which is a BASIC image and required the bare minimum)

  • camera body - $1600

  • lens - $200

  • sd card - $20

  • reflector - $20

  • computer - $800

  • editing software - $600

A grand total of $3240

Now sometimes it costs more then that for me to create your images. Like travel charges, props, different lenses, extra equipment, etc. I am also a bare minimum type of photographer, there are tons of other photographers out there who's work costs a lot more to create (using artificial lighting, higher end equipment, studio setups, studio spaces, etc) I can guarantee you it costs some photographers $20,000+ to create some of their images.

So it cost me $3240 to create that image for you. But how much did it cost me to BECOME the photographer to create that image? Get ready for this number..


That's how much it cost me to become the photographer I am.

  • education - $22,000+ (This should have been doubled, but I left school half way through)

  • specialized classes - $500

  • misc. (equipment, props, etc) - $500+

Next up we have the costs to RUN a legal photography business. Just like running any business, we have operating costs. Think TAXES, permits, license’s, lawyer advisory fee’s, accountant fee’s, studio rental, editing software, props, materials for delivering goods, EQUIPMENT, equipment maintenance, book keeping services, outsourcing, web services..just off the top of my head

Not only do we have to pay all of that to keep our business up and running (so we can legally take your pictures), but we also have to make money to bring home, ya know, to survive.

This blog post is NOT meant to criticize anyone who thinks photography costs a lot. Because it DOES cost a lot (trust me, I know). Sometimes I look at the prices of things and think it is an astronomical amount. Photography is a luxury, not a necessity. I hope this helps some of you understand why it costs "an arm and  a leg" for photography.

**This particular article was inspired by another awesome photographer! Check out their blog post and see the CRAZY amount it cost them to create just one image.. https://petapixel.com/2012/01/10/this-photograph-is-not-free/