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Just for a Photo

I was recently approached by someone wishing to purchase a photo that I had taken of a performer. They wished to use the photo on promotional flyers so that they could generate more income for the performer. When I advised them of the price the comment I received was “JUST FOR A PHOTO”. I’m not to say how much the price was but will say that it was less than the cost of two new music CD’s. Nor am I going to name the person who made the comment as it is not my intention to embarrass them and the sole purpose of this post is to explain how my photos and those of other serious photographers are not just photos.

Have you ever given any thought to what goes into creating a good photograph? You need passion, equipment, time, training, desire and skills.

Photographic equipment is not cheap and it not unusual for a serious photographer to outlay between $15,000 and $20,000 purchasing cameras, lenses, speedlites, umbrellas, soft boxes, remote triggers, tripods, light stands, flash triggers etc.

The equipment also needs to be insured and that can cost another $600 to $800 per year. Then there is public liability insurance in case someone is hurt as a result of me or my equipment, that is another $500 to $600 a year that I need to outlay.

It doesn’t matter how good the equipment or the photographer is, most photos require some form post processing and software needs to be used. Purchasing software is not cheap either with the latest version of Photoshop retailing for in excess of $1,000. Then there are the multitude of plug-ins and associated software programs that are used to bring the best out of a photo. I would have easily spent another $700 on other programs used solely for photo processing.

I do not upload my photos straight from the camera. Before they are uploaded they are reviewed and culled. For the photographs that I consider worthwhile to process I then make decide on what work has to be done. For some photographs it is only minor adjustments such as sharpening, cropping and the straightening of the horizon that are required, whilst for others the processing time can be very time consuming particularly when they include performers as I always wish to show them looking at their best.
Photos are not able to be processed without a computer and the computer required usually needs to be better than the average computer on sale as photo files sizes these days necessitate the use a lot of computer RAM and to utilise more RAM you need a 64 bit computer.

Also with photo files increasing in size it becomes a problem trying to store them all and then you need to keep buying external hard disks just to store photos.

What about the cost of training? I have paid to attend numerous photography courses to help me become a better photographer. I also subscribe to photographic magazines which are used to educate me and improve my photographic and post processing skills.

How do you put a price on the countless hours of practice and self-teaching. I know for one that I have spent hundreds of hours developing my skills so that I can JUST TAKE A PHOTO.

Just getting to locations can be an expensive exercise, whether it is a music performance that I have to pay to attend (and there have been plenty of them), a National Park which I have to purchase a pass to enter or just the cost of the fuel and car running expenses to get to a location.

Particularly for landscape photos there can be a lot of planning involved including researching the location, checking of the tides, reviewing the weather forecasts, determining the best time to be there to capture the location in the best possible lighting conditions.

I and other serious photographers take a lot of pride in our work and I know that I am my own worst critic and will not upload a photo that I am not happy with. I may take a lot of photos but the majority will never be seen by the public as they do not meet my own very high standards.

When I upload a photo, it is one that I am proud to display and it shows that it has met my own high standards. So please, before describing a photo as JUST A PHOTO, give some thought to what the photographer has been through to enable him or her to take the photograph.


  • vilaro Images
    vilaro Imagesabout 2 years ago

    Malcolm, I could not have said it better myself. I think on here most will agree and sympathise with you. Your brilliant explanation of what’s in a photo needs to reach the wider, more ignorant ‘facebookers’ as i call them.

    Well done.

  • Thank you Vilaro, I have posted it on Facebook too and it has been getting a bit of attention.

    – Malcolm Katon

  • donnnnnny
    donnnnnnyabout 2 years ago

    well said Malcolm its alot of expense and alot of time

  • Thanks Don, if we don’t tell people then they will never know.

    – Malcolm Katon

  • Mark  Lucey
    Mark Luceyabout 2 years ago

    Now that performance needs a round of applause !!

  • Thanks Mark, I had to get it off my chest!

    – Malcolm Katon

  • Ian English
    Ian Englishabout 2 years ago

    Nice one Malcolm !!! All so true and most of us don’t count up the sizeable investment we have all made. It is also about valuing your time and ability. The person who made the comment probably takes JUST A PHOTO :))

  • Thanks Ian, very true. It is scary when you work out the cost of your investment!

    – Malcolm Katon

  • Philip Johnson
    Philip Johnsonabout 2 years ago

    yes we went through this with visitors to a recent exhibition at mount wilson, also trying to educate customers about department store canvas art and properly produced and quality canvasses

  • We had all better start educating the public then Philip. DSLR’s are becoming cheaper and everyone thinks they can take photos these days!

    – Malcolm Katon

  • Charlie Mclenahan
    Charlie Mclenahanabout 2 years ago

    I would have quietly said to them in way of a reply … so its just another performer .. not worth paying the going rate for a top notch photograph then … But then tact has never been one of my strong points LoL

  • I know but unfortunately they are a good performer and it is not in my nature to insult people.

    – Malcolm Katon

  • Charlie Mclenahan
    Charlie Mclenahanabout 2 years ago

    Sorry yes I aggree, but cannot remove once I hit send … I would think that batting back the insult they gave your work may have helped them understand … As I expect they would have to say .. Fair play, and pay up for your photograph.

  • No need to apologise. I don’t believe that they comment was meant as an insult, it merely showed their ignorance.

    – Malcolm Katon

  • Gary Kelly
    Gary Kellyabout 2 years ago

    You don’t need to justify any of those things with me, Malcolm. I spent many years in the media and advertising game.

  • Things haven’t changed much then Gary?

    – Malcolm Katon

  • JFStockton
    JFStocktonover 1 year ago

    Right on the money (so to speak) Malcolm. Even a not-so full bag of lots of equipment is costly. Without programmes,plenty of Filters,Flash & other gear it’s even expensive then.Fuel & a printer with paper to get a good result gets pricey as well. Plenty of people may adore your Photographs but not many will part with the Dough….even if it’s a fair price