Your list of reasons photographers charge so much? It’s bullshit.

Dear Photographers,

Can we please stop sharing these damned lists of how expensive it is to run a photography business?  Seriously people.

“I have to pay for insurance!  And gear!  And I need the newest version of Photoshop!  And a studio!”

Guess what?  You just listed business expenses.  You know, those things you have to pay for when you run a business.  Welcome to business ownership.  Time to put your big kid pants on.

But let’s cut to the chase.  Here’s why these lists are bullshit.

Every time you share a list of business expenses to justify your price, you tell the world that you don’t take yourself seriously as a business owner (and that they shouldn’t, either).

Your value is not derived from the costs that it takes to produce the work you produce.  Your value is derived from the work you produce.  And the service you provide.  And the fact that you are the only one who can do what you do.  Period.

You are more than your expenses.


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By Chris

I am a husband to Adrienne, father to #McScott and #MrT and dog-father to Wilson. I spend my days dreaming of new ways to help pro photographers put art on walls, sessions on calendars and money in pockets with Preveal, Salesographer and Swift Galleries.

  • Mark Eric

    Absolutely, thank you Chris. Spot on!

    • Chris

      Thanks, Mark!

  • Kim Nodurft

    Bravo Chris! Does Tiffany’s list all their business expenses when selling wedding rings? I think not! There’s a huge difference in what someone who’s just starting out and has no idea how to work his camera or compose an interesting shot will charge and someone who’s been a pro photographer for over a decade and works internationally. Clothes at WalMart do not equal what you’d pay at Nordstroms.

    • Chris

      Thanks Kim. To me, this was even less about “what should I charge” and more along the lines of “what am I charging for?”. I just hate to see people share these posts because I know they mean well, but they’re shooting themselves in the foot. They’re the ones now making their price about the expenses, when it should be about much more than that.

  • Brittany

    I love this!

  • Brian Berman

    Excellent article. Well said. Those lists are so outrageously unprofessional. If you have to justify yourself, you probably aren’t getting the right type of clients.

  • Mallory

    I agree with your overall point! I think your title is misleading for your point though. I think people might read your title without reading your blog and walk away thinking they were right to think photographers are over priced! I think those ‘reasons why photographers cost so much’ was a response to the people who say…I have a camera too-why do you charge so much?! All youre doing is hitting a button’ got way out of hand! Obviously the people who see your worth and like your work are going to be the people who use you in the end without questioning price! Thank goodness for those clients!

  • Amy

    Agree, 100%! I’ve always been so embarrassed for photographers that post those lists!

  • TK Imagine Studio

    Best contribution on the subject I’ve read.

  • Tim C

    I charge what I charge, because that is what I & my clients value my work at.

    If you’re debating my price & thusly my works worth, then thanks for stopping by, but I’m not the photographer for you.

  • Don Giannatti


    It drives me crazy when I see those whining posts of drivel.

    Wonderful take down of that stupid, stupid meme.

  • Paul Conrad

    Petfectly summed up. The clients that you want hire you for your work, not what you chatge.

    Your images are the true value of your business.

  • Sean

    Are you freakin kidding me with this unintelligent rant?

    I guess you got you MBA from a Happy Meal.

    Business expenses + A small profit margin / hours worked equals rate, bozos.

    How do you expect to stay in business if you can’t pay for equipment, utilities, rent, insurance, software, etc?

    Oh I know, work out of you parents basement that way you don’t need to worry about rent, utilities, insurance. Borrow or steal equipment from a friend or go with a disposable camera. And pirate the latest software. That’s probably the way the author would go.

    • Chris


      I initially responded to this with a pretty pissy reply because, well, read your comment. Then Adrienne told me I might have been out of line. This is why she’s the voice of reason. So here’s the edited comment, which features a kinder, gentler Chris…

      Take a deep breath man, then go back and read the post again. This isn’t a discussion about how to calculate your prices. It’s not even kind of talking about that. I’m talking about using your expenses to *justify* your prices.

      Also, I’d follow this pricing model, instead:

      Cost of Goods Sold X Markup = Base Rate (use x3 for 30% Cost of Sale, x4 for 25% Cost of Sale)
      Base Rate + Time it takes to produce the product = Product price baseline.
      Use this baseline as your starting point in determining what you’ll actually charge for that product.

      I’d love to have a civil conversation with you about this, if you’re up for it.


      • Chris Pickrell

        If your expenses don’t justify your prices, then what kind of a business are you running.

        People literally think photography is about pushing a button, and that’s it. Hence the justification.

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  • Chris Fisher

    Excellent post. The Marxist Labor theory of value is a common fallacy that needs refuting.

  • Chris Pickrell

    Try telling people you deserve to be paid cause you’re really good at what you do, and you’ll be called an arrogant prick, and they’ll get their cousin Billy to do them for a lollipop.

    Yes, those are business expenses. And anyone who doesn’t factor business expenses into their rate, will fail. Which is why those expenses matter.

    Basically, the reason photographer lists have become viral, is because people don’t value photography at all. So they think they don’t have to pay for it.

    This isn’t about photographer’s egos or justification, it’s about consumer entitlement. And you are encouraging it.

    Good job.

    Yes, there is value in what I do. But charging for what I do, and getting paid for what I do, are two different things.

    Not to mention, your clickbait headline is an obvious attempt to gain clicks and start a debate and go viral, gaining followers who vehemently agree with you, and gaining attention from the inevitable drama.

    • Chris Scott

      Chris, thanks for the feedback. I’m afraid I just don’t see eye-to-eye with you on this though.

      If what you’re saying were true, then Starbucks wouldn’t exist. No one needs a $6 cup of coffee. Apple wouldn’t exist. You can get a ChromeBook for $200. BMW wouldn’t exist. You can get from Point A to Point B just as well in a Kia.

      These companies exist because they were able to assign a value to their products that is higher than the sum of their parts. And there are countless photographers who are also doing this every day.

      And on the point of my clickbait headline – you’re absolutely right, I’d love to get people over here to engage with them on what I think is an important topic, as well as draw their attention to the products we sell that will help them run a profitable business. If a headline gets someone to click through and engage with the content I’ve written, then I’ve done my job.

      But hey, at least it wasn’t “This Photographer Posted a List of His Expenses Online… You’ll Never Believe What Happened Next!”, right? :D

      • Chris Pickrell

        Buying a computer is different than buying a photographer.

        Try telling someone that the money they pay for a computer has nothing to do with functional value or building. Tell them you’re paying for the expertise of a person to design it, tell them they’re paying cause the Apple looks prettier than the PC.

        I’m sure their response would be different.

  • disqus_bytD9vYd3O

    Ummmm why even make this post? You’re basically bringing more attention to the very thing you claim to hate… photographers who make those “bull shit posts”. Not to mention you have a huge optin box right at the bottom which tells me you’re hoping this goes viral for your informational product or consulting program. How about we stop worrying about what every other photographer is doing and worry about our own businesses. If photographers want to post about business expenses who cares? Besides, if they are hurting their own business doesn’t that give professional photographers like yourself more clients? You should be praising them for it, not ridiculing them.

    • Chris Scott

      Thanks for the feedback, Anonymous poster person. Let me unpack this a little, I guess.
      – Yes, I’m drawing attention to it. Because I feel it needed attention drawn to it.
      – Yes, I’m running a business that helps photographers sell their work. I’d love for them to opt-in and eventually buy what I’m selling. Because it will help them run a more profitable business. And it’s a business. So feel free to help me make it “go viral”.
      – My job is to worry about what other photographers are doing, because I’ve made it my job to help them run profitable, sustainable businesses.
      – I’m more of a “rising tide floats all boats” type, rather than a “I hope you fail miserably at doing this thing you love to do” type. But I guess that’s just me.

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