You think professional photographers are too expensive, right?

Pro photographer's hands checking camera at a desk with laptop and spare lenses- stock photo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The complaint or excuse I hear most from people considering hiring professional photographers is that they are "too expensive". Photography prices can be extreme, I can’t deny that. But in most cases, they are entirely justified.

Photography pricing is entirely subjective to each individual photographer, what value they place upon themselves, how much work they are willing to take on, and their own personal beliefs in what constitutes a fair price. 

Photographers with a large following or just good marketing can demand very high prices, but just remember, Instagram followers or Google ranking isn’t everything. Don’t fall into the myth that high prices guarantee better photos. Plenty of fantastic photographers have just not "made it big", shop around and beyond the first page of results and you'll see that there are so many photographers' work that is just as exceptional as more popular creators.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

However, there will always be a base price for professional photography. The investment each photographer must make to finance their career is enormous. A professional photographer can easily take thousands of dollars worth of equipment to each job. I have broken down, as an example, a cost estimate for the absolute minimum equipment I would take with me to photograph a simple event to a professional standard:

Canon EOS R6 Mark II (Camera) – $2,500
Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM (Lens) – $2,200
Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM (Lens) – $2,600
Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT (Flash) – $300
Manfrotto Befree tripod – $200
Total – $7,800

This equipment also breaks down or becomes obsolete and needs to be replaced or repaired regularly to stay up-to-date and competitive. Outside of taking images, editing photos requires powerful modern computers and expensive software. The above is just an example. Many weddings can require even more equipment, with multiple camera bodies, several wireless flashes, and light modifiers. 

Studio photography incurs rental costs for the studio space, a high quality and varied range of paper and material backdrops, and studio flash lighting, which can cost upwards of thousands of dollars per light. 

So whilst the cost of photography may not be immediately obvious to everybody, especially to those who have no experience in the industry, the cost to become and remain a professional photographer can be astronomical. Therefore, a photographer simply has to charge more to work back these initial costs, on top of setting an appropriate salary to live on.

This is made harder by the number of good photographers fighting for work, whilst, unlike regular jobs, the majority of photographers will not and cannot get work every day or even every week, this means that each job that is secured must be charged at a premium to cover those jobs that won’t come or will be lost elsewhere.

So hopefully, next time someone says photographers are too expensive, this article might help in making them think twice.

Find out our top picks for the best professional cameras, you can also find our choices for the best camera lenses in our guides.

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.