Why Do Digital Images Cost SO MUCH?

by Mar 20, 2023Educational, General, Question Answer

“Why do digital images cost so much?
Aren’t you just copying it from your camera to a drive that you give to me?”

It’s a good question. In fact, it’s an excellent question. 

Before I got into photography seriously, I used to look at photographers’ pricing and gag over the cost of a digital image! Why did something that could literally be emailed to me cost SO DAMN MUCH?! There was no actual hard copy! Why? Absolute robbery, right?!

Then I started to learn about the business of photography and I figured out pretty quickly why digital images cost so much.

So here’s the tea.

The long answer (if you want the short answer, just scroll down to the bottom):

It really comes down to what actually goes into creating that digital image and what you’re getting for the cost. It’s so much more than just taking the image, then copying it from the camera to a drive. In my case – and likely a great many other photographers – I take a lot of photos. Sometimes hundreds depending on the event.

Once the session is done, here’s what I do. Step-by-step:

  1. Copy the images from the memory card(s) to my external hard drives
  2. Scrutinise every single image for focus, colour, light, pose, eyes open, etc (obviously not every image we take is going to be perfect, but that’s why I take so many – higher chance of getting that great image)
  3. Sort the best images in to a folder for processing/editing
  4. Upload the selected images to my editing software
  5. Basic colour correction, light correction, and cropping
  6. Share the images with the client – you – and select the ones you’re most interested in purchasing
  7. Deeper edits on selected images: removing blemishes, skin redness, smoothing out hair, filling in distracting scene gaps and removing distracting objects
  8. Deliver the final edited images to you either by a downloadable gallery or on a thumb drive

All of the above takes HOURS.

Before you ask, yes, this process happens even when images are being printed. \Yes there is an associated expense from printing images (that’s why those cost more than you would pay yourself).

But why do digital images, precisely, cost more than a physical photo? 

Because you’re buying the right to use that photo as many times and in as many ways as you want (for personal use) as opposed to having one hard copy of the image. Which is money out of my pocket because I lose the opportunity to sell you more images after that. Sounds skeezy but it’s true. 

The short answer: You’re buying the right to make as many copies as you want of that image (for personal use).

Every photographer sets their own prices which is why you see such a wide pricing discrepancy over the industry. But why one photographer charges more than another is too big a nut to crack in this blog

That is why digital images cost so much.

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Promise 😉