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 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 and Salesographer.

  • 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.


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