This Photograph Is Not Free! It cost me € 8.596,70

So this was one of the first long exposure shots I captured in Paris, France in 2011. It cost me € 8.596,70 to take this photo and it has gotten close to 50.000 views since then.

This is how I arrived at the cost:


1 Getting to the destination:

Driving from my home to Paris and then home again cost me € 180 in gas. The hotel cost me another € 1000 for the trip. It cost me € 50 to get all the right documents to be able to shoot on a tripod in Paris. I spend € 32,70 for the parking that day. I took me 30 minutes to persuade the cop to let me stand still for more than 5 minutes in the middle of the street, price € ???

2 The equipment:

The camera I took this photo with cost € 2500. The lens was another € 649. The CF 16GB memory card cost € 105. The filter was € 90. The Tripod was another € 150. The shutter-release was another € 50.

3 The processing:

When I got to the hotel, I copied the photo to a MacBook Pro that cost me € 2940 and a Seagate external harddrive, as a back-up, that cost me € 150. I imported the photo to Lightroom 3 which I got for € 200. I then exported it and tinkered with it in Photoshop which costs about € 500.

180 + 1000 + 50 + 32,70 + 2500 + 649 + 105 + 90 + 150 + 50 + 2940 + 150 + 200 + 500=

€ 8.596,70  

(That is 11.029,57 US Dollars)

That doesn’t even take into account the time it toke to process the photo – and what about experience or talent? What price do you put on that?

So …

If you’re a magazine, website, corporation, sports team, or advertiser who wishes to use this photo, please don’t come and ask to use it for free, or in exchange for credit or “exposure”. You found my photo so obviously I have “exposure”. You have an advertising budget, and this is what it’s for. You obviously don’t expect your writers to work for free, or your secretary, or your boss. No one is going to publish it for free. Just because the picture is digital doesn’t mean it was free to make.

As most will be thinking, THIS single photo didn’t cost me  € 8596,70, but if you wanted to create it, from scratch, that is what is involved. So I consider it to be the replacement value if it’s stolen, or how much my lawyer will send you a bill for if it’s found being used without my permission.

If you give your photo away for “credit” then the best possible scenario for you is someone will see your photo, contact you, and ask if they could borrow one of your photos… for credit. Try this… next time you’re at dinner, tell your waiter you’ll tell all your friends how good the service was if he gives you dinner for free.

This article is based on the article “This Photograph is Not Free” by John B. Mueller. I wanted to try his method on one of my photos, so I adapted photographer John B. Mueller’s recent article and have  re-written it to reflect my own expenses and situation. Thank you John for giving permission to adapt your piece.

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