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Cost of a photography business

Updated: Sep 11

For the first time in my career I have encounter this one client that say your business has no cost. What a bold statement. Trust me, at that moment I myself wanted to believe that was true while sobbing about all the money that I have invested into my business. Let's not speak about photography business. Just imagine how great will it be to run a business that has no cost but only 100% return. Dang, there will be no poor man in this world. What a perfect economy structure. 


I wouldn't blame them entirely as they have not educate themselves enough to understand what does it takes to run a professional photography business. Even if there is no cost, we are still required to feed our families and meet commitments just like anybody else. Obviously there are ways to cheat your way through getting things done cheaper. (Let me assure you cheaper way often yields lower results) Generally it does cost anywhere from RM50k to RM200k or more just to get things started. And I can assure you that everything you have invested is just the beginning as you grow in the industry to serve better clients.


So when most think photography has virtually no cost. Let me prepare a simple list of the things that we spend on (The actual list are actually longer). This list might also serve as a checklist if you wanna start your own photography business. Again I will not list how much each of them cost as different people own different level of equipment, things and skills which in turn cost differently.


1) Photography Equipments (Camera bodies and lenses)

2) Lighting Equipments (Speedlights, LEDs, Strobe or Monoblock)

3) Photography accessories and tools (Tripods, C stands, tethered device, adapters, filters, camera batteries, lighting battery packs, transport case, bags, light modifiers, etc)

4) Equipment Maintenance (To keep our equipments running just like any other machines)

5) Software licensing (Adobe creative cloud or other similar subsciptions)

6) Storage (Hard disk, Memory cards, NAS)

7) Computer (With powerful processing power for extensive post processing)

8) Displays (Quality displays to accurately display colours)

9) Employee overhead (Assistants, second shooters, crew members)

10) Insurance (Liability Insurance, Health and Disability Insurance, etc)

11) Business Registration and other related administrative cost

12) Accountants and Lawyers (To get your accounts right and sue your asses)

13) Website Domain

14) Website Hosting

15) Designers

16) Marketing

17) Education (Yes, we study a lot just like any other profession to deliver proper product)

18) Printing (We invest in prints to make sure we are delivering the standard)

19) Portfolio (Believe it or not, we sometimes pay to get contents that will level up our portfolio)

20) Transportation cost and maintenance

21) Time (Everyone's time is essence, in our line of job, it is crucial as there are things that only can be done at that specific hour or date)

22) Skillsets (Putting education aside, we do practice day and night to train our photography sense just to be at the level we are today and cost does incur as well)

23) Rentals and utilities (Office space, studio, utility bills, etc)


There is nothing wrong if you are unable to afford certain level of photographers, but please do not undermine what we do. Just hire freelancers or photographers that generally operate on a lesser cost. Every photographer has their own unique selling point and are operating at a different level of productions. I am pretty sure there will be an alternative that suits and checks all your needs. As the saying goes, if you think that we are expensive, yes we are and we allow our portfolio and client testimony to speak for itself. The truth is while you are complaining, there are clients who are willing to pay more than what you offer as they are able to see the value that they are getting in return.

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