Why Photographers Charge

I was scrolling through Facebook over lunch when I saw someone had reposted the above. I could not disagree more with this logic.

If businesses were to base what they charge on equipment costs, than McDonald’s ice cream would be outrageous. The machine they use, made by Taylor Company, costs $18,000 (even if it breaks down on a regular basis). If you think your $5,000 worth of gear means you need to charge a lot, your $2.45 ice cream should be setting you back a whole lot more.

Yes, you have to factor the productions costs, including wear and tear on your gear, into your business model. But if all that sets you apart from others is the gear you have, then You – capital-Y You – aren’t bringing much to the equation of who to hire. You’re just another person on the widget assembly line.

As photographers, our value comes from our vision. As photojournalists, it comes from not just how we see, but how we understand a story – from our ability to research, observe, assess, interact, question, build relationships, compose for an unknown viewer, build connections with those we photograph so that those who aren’t there come to know them, come to understand the stories that are important to their lives.

The value of a writer doesn’t come from their typewriter, it comes from what they write. The value of a photographer also doesn’t come from their gear, it comes from how they see.

Mark E. Johnson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment