Fine. My philosophy professors would give me the death stare since saying what something is not does not say what it is.

Whatevs. The one of the things I learned in one of my last philosophy classes was that I probably should have minored in it.

I kid. If I could go turn back time I wouldn’t change a thing I did back in college….academically speaking, at least. Probably should have partied more though ^_^

Anyway, I got a request on Quora to answer a question about the average price for commercial and food photography.

Normally I’d preface the answer by doing the whole “Do you go to a general contractor and ask how much it costs to build a house” but Quora is a bit classier so I chose not to ^_^

I won’t be repeating myself so here is the link to the thread.

I did leave something out because I don’t answer with personal stories in forums unless specifically asked to do so.

So back when I worked at the apparel/accessories conglomerate thing, the AD (art director) slash senior photographer who did all the apparel shots asked me to create a new set (lighting and background) for the summer merchandise. I did my thing and had one ready the following day. Two weeks later the shipping department started panicking every day from shipping one order after the other. Boss lady eventually went around giving the shipping folks bonuses since they have been staying way overtime. AD tells me that sales went up 200% since we changed the set. I went like

And whose idea was that???      ???       ???

Yeah I did say that ^_^

The point is as much as I hate walking around chanting the whole photography=art thing, it is…practically speaking at least. The input and output are not that concrete. The folks at shipping got a bonus because they put in more hours. The guy who came up with the concept that led to the increase in sales did not get anything because the idea just came up from his head?

One thing I remember from that one business class I took way back then was, “Value received = value parted with.”

Photographers deliver images. Those images are going to be used for specific purposes. Obviously, a family portrait that hangs on the foyer wall is used differently than…say a family portrait used in a cruise line advertisement. Even though the costs associated with the production of both images are the same, they each hold different values.

That said, the process of creating a photograph for a client also has a different value than the process of…


Photographer rates are not hourly rates. The time and resources one spent to produce a photograph is only part of a much larger equation that determines the value of a photograph.


About Carlo

I like film photography, K-pop, and yogurt soju.

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