Is it right to charge thousands for Photography?

I recently came across a thread over at a forum in which a very talented director of music videos showcased his latest work and was asked by the site which hosts the forum to just briefly talk about how he went about filming the video and what equipment/tools was employed. He also just briefly said that the video was shot for under a few hundred pounds. Now before I go on, I will testify that his videos are great and would not look out of place if mtv showed it or any other music video channel.


It was not until as I was reading the forum posts about the video of which very positive until a commentator commented on the cost of the video which somewhat touch a mindset in my head. It read ‘How on Earth are you supposed to make a living doing a video that cheap lol?…. ‘you’re spoiled by the DSLR’s, but you’re also spoiling the artists by conditioning them to think that they no longer have to pay much to get a music video done…I’ll probably be out of a job in a few years haha when all artists will be able to get a video done for under a $1000’ (source

 This annoyed me mainly because I believe that within the arts, there is no right or wrong. There is no right way of doing something or wrong way of doing something. If there was then we’d have the same style of art, but as history has shown we don’t.

We have the term ‘industry standard’ but that too is vague. Why can’t you make a music video or a film production on 5Dmk2 or even the iphone?, do you really need to use RedOne cameras or Sony’s CineAlta 24P HD. Does it really matter? People are so obsessed with 2K, 4K, sensor size, etc, the notion takes away from creating the vision in the first place….art!

 I’m a photographer and the photography landscape has changed dramatically over the years, the shift being driven by the digital SLR economy, and that better cameras are coming out with better specifications at lower prices which is a good thing. But you get the old guard who complain that these ‘amateurs’ don’t know what they’re doing and can’t shoot a good photo, going with the ‘machine gun’ approach in the hope that at least one of their photos will be good.

Slowly threading back to why I’m writing this post is cost? Does someone charging a high cost mean that, that person will deliver exceptional photography? Does someone who charges less, do an ‘ok’ job? I remember and some still do, charge thousands for photography. There was a time when that was acceptable, but like the music industry and the onslaught of digital music, the photography industry and more importantly the people whose lives depend on it needs to re-think their pricing models. We now live in a world were (in the UK) taxes have gone up; people are tightening their belts and being more cautious with their money. If your clients have deep pockets then you need not worry.

As well as travel photography, I also do weddings. I pride myself in my quality of work and charge what I think is right for that work and not let the market conditions decide.

Can wedding photographers who charge thousands sustain that level of income? Yes and no, but with more and more people taking up photography and I’ve come across more people (couples looking for wedding photographers) who are taking ‘risks’ in hiring photographers who charge less and or have just left college/university (having studied photography). I use the word ‘risks’ carefully as sometimes there is little or no body of work as in a portfolio for the potential client to see. But they are also mindful that they have saved for their wedding and if they’ve studied photography, then they must have some grasp of it at least!

For those wedding photographers and photographers whose rates have been in the ‘thousands’ range, their work pool might look to diminish, and yes I understand that it’s a living and the high costs actually doesn’t relate to the days work that they do, but actually encompasses the a myriad of costs such as the cost of the equipment being factored in, insurance, cost of hiring extra people to help on the day, post-processing of photos and also the time needed to process the photos. So when in that context, one could understand the price and reason with it. But with more and more people taking up photography the talent pool for creativity is exploding and that’s a good thing, you just need to go to flickr to see amazing photos, and youtube and vimeo to see amazing HD videos.

What do you think?

What happens with the arts is within all our creative grasps.


weddings I shoot generally have

The weddings I shoot generally have the ‘reception’ element in them and its actually 50/50 in that the main wedding and reception are done in the same day, sometimes its days apart and even a few weeks apart, either way the ‘reception’ element is there…