Why Does Photography Cost So Much?

For photographers photography is more than just a hobby; it’s a business. In order for any business to succeed it needs to make sustainable profit.

It can be really daunting to have to a conversation about money, and often I get a bit apprehensive to send a quote to a Client, especially when they question the cost, question my worth, or refuse to pay (product exchange is not payment).

Imagine going to a shop, picking up an item you like and then asking the shop to lower the price so it fits your budget. The shop wouldn’t say yes because that would reduce their profit margin and ultimatley they’d go out of business. Same goes for photographers. Photograpahers don’t pluck prices from thin air when they provide a quote; they create a price based on cost, time, and value. If we reduce our prices to fit every Clients budget we’d end up feeling worthless, creativley worn out and unable to continue our business.

Perhaps many people don’t value creative work as they don’t realise just how much work goes into creating the art behind the scenes. Perhaps part of the issue is that due to the rise in quality smart phone cameras everyone thinks they are a photographer, and therefore see hiring a professional as an unecessary puchase for their brand.

Which Are You More Drawn To?

invest in photography, bad product photography

This Rose Lip Balm

Elle Frizzell product Photography

Or This Rose Lip Balm

invest in photography, bad pancake photography

These Stacked Pancakes

Elle Frizzell Food and Product Photography UK

Or These Stacked Pancakes

invest in photography, bad food photography

These Organic Apples

Or These Organic Apples

I really hope this post helps both potential Clients and fellow photographers realise that creatives are worth paying and provide value to brands and businesses.

Below is an overview of all the outright costs, running costs, and work involved in creating photographic content.

The Running Costs of a Photography Business

Monthly Costs

  • Editing software (from £8.99 p/m)
  • Email marketing (average £10 p/m)
  • Bank payments (£8.50 p/m)
  • Rent (depends on studio space hire or working from home)
  • Food (depends on shoot requirements or need of recipe development)
  • Heating (no one want to work in a freezing studio)
  • Electricity (all those speed/ strobe/ continous lights need power)


  • Camera (£300 – £5000 +)
  • Lenses (£100 – £3000 +)
  • Memory cards
  • Tether cable
  • C stands (£100 +)
  • Tripod & tripod heads (£100 +)
  • Lighting stands (£20 +)
  • Modifers (£20 – £200 +)
  • Reflectors (£20 – £150 +)
  • Backgrounds (average £30 per background)
  • Computer (£400 +)
  • Graphics tablet (used for precise editing when doing touch ups, £40 +)
  • Lights (£80 +)
  • Props (varies greatly depending on what’s needed for a shoot)

The below items are things that aren’t neccessarily seen by outsiders but are 100% definatley happening behind the scenes. In fact, marketing, and up levelling skills is what makes a flourishing business of quality work, far more than fancy equipement ever will.


  • Marketing (including emails, social media posts, networking, ads etc)
  • Client liasoning (pitching, zoom calls, phone calls, emails etc)
  • Pre-production (intial Client meetings, mood-board, sourcing required backgrounds/ props/ food items, building sets etc)
  • Post production (allllll the editing i.e colour grading, white balance, retouching, and delivering content to the Client for feedback. I’m also going to mention that tidying up takes quite a long time especially when recipes and set buidling is involved)

You may notice quotes vary depending on the service you require. This is because some services take a lot longer than others to complete and some shots are lot more complex. Generally, stop motion takes me longer than still product shoots, and very graphic/ clean/ creative images like flying objects require more retouch work in photoshop than something like a naturalist smoothie bowl would.

Skill Development

When you work with a photographer I’m sure you’ll want to know that you are working someone who knows what they’re doing. Most successful people haven’t got to where they are all on their own. They’ve had training, support and continue to develop their skills.

Personally I have enrolled in Foodtography School, Artifical Light Academy, and Food Retouching courses to help develop my skills as a photograher and enable me to provide higher quality content.

Why Do Photography Quotes Vary?

You may notice quotes vary between photographers and between project requirements. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Cost of living varies between locations. For example a photographer in London would need to charge more than a photographer in Birmingham just to be able to cover basics like rent.
  2. Experience. Beginners are looking for experience, portfolio content and testimones so are more likely to accept low payment. However, as knowledge is gained and equipment is expanded costs will go up to allow the business to keep growing.
  3. The type of service. Some services take longer to complete, for example stop motion takes me longer than still product photography. And recipe development involves more work and time, and thus costs more.
  4. The set/ shoot requirements. Some shoots need minimal props, eg a brownie shoot natural/ rustic/ homely vibe (imagine some parchment paper, the gooey brownie squares and a few scattered crumbs). Other shoots require custom sets to be built e.g a jungle scene for a natural vitamin company.
  5. The complexitiy of the edit. A simple supper dish may only require a quick colour grade and minimal retouching, where as a styled product shoot with floating objects is likely to require a lot of retouching and compositing in photoshop.

Elle Frizzell Still Life Photography Hampshire

Natural Light, Simple Styling, Minimal retouching

Custom Set, Retouching, GIF Animation

Elle Frizzell Product Photography UK

Graphic Style, Retouching Floating Currants

Final Thoughts on the Cost of Photography

When you see a quote from a photographer, it can be easy to assume that that money goes straight to their pocket. This is definately not the case! The money goes to paying off company bills and only a small percentage is paid to the photographer, and that’s only if enough profit has been generated over the month.

Let’s end the whole ‘starving artist/ struggling creative’ thing. Ok so we’re not saving lives or curing cancer but we are talented, passionate people trying to scultp out a career in something we love. All we really want is to make our Clients happy and be happy ourselves.

Health & Happiness, 

Elle x

Elle Frizzell Product and Food Photographer

oh hey there!

Hi, I’m Elle. Photographer, holistic nutritionist, fitness lover and owner of one very sensitive gut. 

Welcome to my snug nook of the internet where you can find recipes, read up on resources, or book me for food and product photography. 

Elle Frizzell Food Photography Hampshire

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