Why Do Photographers Charge So Much For Prints?Why Do Photographers Charge So Much For Prints

When you’re investigating your options for a family photo shoot, one of the questions you may have is 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?

In this post I’m going to take a look at two factors that contribute to this difference:

The quality of the print

The photographer’s expertise and experience


The Quality of The Print

The first thing that will impact the price is the quality of a print. Not all prints are created equal, and if a photographer prints for you they will probably have access to professional printers and will be offering you a higher quality of print than you would find on the high street.

I say probably, because photography is not a regulated profession. You don’t need a specific qualification, or to sign up to a specific set of standards to call yourself a photographer. But by asking some questions about where the photographer prints their photographs you should get a picture of the quality.

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. Some will be printed on digital printers, and others (Giclee) using an inkjet printing process. For each of these printing processes different papers are available, and choosing different papers can affect how the photograph appears.

You can read more about photographic printing here: what is a fine art print.


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.

After the photo shoot a photographer will usually take the following steps to print a photograph:

  • Colour correct it, edit and retouch it
  • Resize the photograph to the size of the final print and check it closely for dust, blemishes and any other details that you don’t want to be visible when it’s enlarged.
  • 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.

Over to you

I hope you’ve found this explanation of why a print purchased from a photographer is more expensive than one you print yourself useful. What other questions do you have about photography? Send me an email to let me know.


Related Links

How much does family photography cost?

How much does newborn photography cost?

What is a fine art print?

Picture of Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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