Why do photographers charge so much for prints?

After all, if you can go and print a photo yourself for pennies online why do photographers charge much, much more? There are two factors that contribute to this difference:

The Quality of The Print

Not all prints are created equal, and if a photographer prints for you they will have access to professional printers and will be offering you a higher quality of print than you would find in the online consumer labs. Some of the factors that make a professional print better quality are:

  • The spectrum of colours that the printer can print – a professional printer can print a wider range of colours than an average printer and therefore print the colours in your photograph more accurately.
  • The type of paper and inks used. These will impact the life of your print, and how long the colours will remain true to the original print. Poor quality prints will show their age by yellowing and cracking of the paper.
  • There are also differences between professional prints. For each of these printing processes different papers are available, and choosing different papers can affect how the photograph appears.

The value of the photographer’s expertise, skill and experience

The other difference between printing your own photographs yourself and is that you are also paying for the photographer’s skill and expertise.

Just like when you buy a painting the cost is a reflection of the artist’s skill and expertise in creating the painting, the cost of a print purchased from a photographer is a reflection of the photographer’s expertise and time in creating it.

On average I spend between 4-5 hours on curating, post processing and photo editing for every hour that we photograph. That time doesn’t include more advanced editing or compositing requests (as those projects can can easily take dozens of hours per image). But it does include the time it takes to sift through the hundreds of photos that we take each session, editing the top photos individually in Photoshop (remobve blemishes, stray hairs, correcting brightness, color saturation, hue / vibrance, and global white balance, as well as adjusting color balance) and ensuring that each photo will print flawlessly before delivering the final product to a client.

Either send it a professional lab for printing, or print it using a professional printer themselves. At the end of this process the print is unique, a one of a kind piece of art created just for you, and this will be reflected in the price too.

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