Photography is expensive! Of course, if you own a camera and a couple of lenses, then you already knew that. But there are lots of surprising hidden costs to photography, too. Even hobbyists face them, though this is especially true among professional photographers.
For instance, let’s say that you’re a professional art photographer, someone who makes money selling prints or hard copy books at art fairs. One of the things you’ll need to do is make lots of copies so that you can guarantee you’ll have plenty of inventory to sell. What about all that inventory that doesn’t sell? You’ve paid for them, but have you factored in the cost of those items against the products you did sell?
That’s just one example of hidden costs. There are so many more. We all know to factor in the costs of our gear, and the hours we’ll spend in the field taking photographs, or the hours spent in front of the computer post-processing. But what about the time you’ve spent driving to and from locations? Or the time you’ve spent learning more about photography and honing your skills so that you can become a better photographer?
Looking at it even deeper, there are things like the time it takes to file your taxes. If you’re self-employed and you don’t hire an accountant, this can be a long, exhausting process. There are even things like the costs of meals when you’re on the road. If food isn’t provided, are you saving receipts and factoring those costs? Or if you’re taking a packed lunch, did you calculate the costs of the ingredients? If you’re doing these things on a weekly basis, the money can really start to add up.
There are other things you may not be thinking about. That new pair of hiking boots, which is perhaps something you considered a personal expense, but in actuality, you purchased them so that you’re better able to hike to photographic destinations. The same goes for things like rain gear, all those bottles of sunscreen and bug spray that you go through each year, or tents and camping equipment if you tend to spend several days camping during your photo outings. Again, these are things you may not have thought of simply because your mind tends to view them as personal expenditures, not necessarily business-related things. I can’t possibly list all the potential hidden costs to photography because for one thing, there are so many. That, and we’re all different. Wedding photographers will have different costs than nature photographers, for example. But it’s my hope that now you can see where some of these little items may be lurking. In many cases, these costs aren’t major, but if you have enough of them, then they could seriously be taking away from your business’s profitability — and you may not even know. It’s worth taking the time to examine your process in search of these costs so that you can be as profitable as possible.