What is the value of a photograph?

When it comes to art or creativity it’s subjective. And art is only worth what your willing to pay for it. One person’s monthly income is another persons pocket change. Personal style, preference and tastes vast dramatically from age, culture, social groups and geolocation. So can one find a baseline for what a photo is really worth to the user in today’s economy? And answer the question, what is the value of a photograph really worth?

Figuring out a campaign shoot or wedding price is quite easy. You figure out the cost of gear hire, expenses, travel, labour plus what you want to change your time as and walla you have your price. This is drastically simplifying it down to its most basic form. Figuring out what an average person’s photograph is worth is a little tricker. But let run the numbers.

First, the most used owned or uploaded photo device is the iPhone 6. most used software is the default cellphone camera. The most used platform to share and send photos is Instagram which is a free public social app. The next thing to consider is power costs. On average $15 for a kWh, an iPhone 6 uses 2,000 mAh at 7 Watts an hour. The average user spends around an hour a day on Instagram, so the math is as follows. 2000 mAh x 7 Wh / 1000 = 14 Wh. Average kWh cost around $15. So an hour use of an iPhone 6 costs around 20 cents, that’s being generous. Let’s just figure our gear depreciation, over say 3 years? iPhone 6 $350 / 3 = $121 a year. $121 each day for a year = $0.33 / 24 hours = hour $0.01 in depreciation costs for an hours use of your phone over three years. So the average cost of a photo or looking, editing a photo for an hour each day is worth $7.46 which includes minimum wadge. This goes down even more if you take into consideration the actual time you spend taking a photograph, 1/250 of a second etc.

iPhone 6 – $350 ($0.01 hour)
Instagram – free
Power costs 1 hour = $0.20
Average minimum wage = $7.25 hour
Total photograph worth for an hour = $7.46

1 hour = 3600 seconds.
1 hour $7.46 / 3600 seconds = $0.002

One photograph that takes you 1 second to capture in its most basic form is worth $0.002 in the digital age. Taking into consideration minimum wadge, gear depreciation, power costs and gear costs. This is why the world is so saturated with imagery and why photography is so liberal, free and accessible more and more worldwide. It’s almost scary because I make a living taking photographs. and if I was paid $7.46 an hour for my services I wouldn’t be able to make rent, let alone put food on the table. If I got paid per photo then I would be well below the poverty line.

Now, this isn’t taking into consideration insurance, pro gear, studio hire rent, education etc. Just the worth of someone from the general public and what it costs someone in real money to take a photo. At the very least this shows you the amount of money your losing spending it scrolling on Instagram. The next time you waste an hour of your life, think to yourself was that hour worth $7.46? In my eyes your time is priceless, so I say money well spent.

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