An honest explanation of my prices. [update]

Greetings reader,

As you may have noticed, my shop is now open and ready to receive orders. With this, I expect there to be some surprise regarding the prices. I understand that a number of people visiting my website may not be as immersed in the photography world as others, I imagine there might be a little bit of confusion or shock over my prices. I wanted to make this post to explain my price points and to, I guess, assure people that these are some of the lowest prices for “fine art” quality photography you’ll find anywhere, relative to the amount of time, effort, and skill required to take each one. I think the simplest way to break this down, would to be a sort of imagined Q&A of what I think people might want to ask me… if that makes sense.

1) These prices seem a little high, don’t they?

A: Well, in general, yes. However, comparatively, they are incredibly cheap, for photography. I completely agree that in a vacuum, 9500 yen (85usd) seems unreasonable for a fancy piece 16x20 of paper with a picture printed on it. However, when compared to the 214usd that other photographers sell it for, it’s peanuts. I’ve even been told by the people at my print shop that my prices are unreasonably low.

I also have all of my photos professionally printed and cut, which means I have to add their costs to my own price… to you know… to at least break even.

2) Then why are they so low?

A: I’m aware that my name carries no weight in the photography world. The fact is, most “famous” or “professional” photographers are charging you for the right to own something with their name on it, or to pay their bills. That’s totally fine, but I’m not there. I’m just some schlub, relatively speaking. These photos are not a cash grab, and at this point I’d appreciate the idea of more people owning my work than making tons of money for each purchase.

3) What’s the difference between standard quality and fine art quality?

A: Simply put, the fine art quality prints are on much better (and more expensive) paper. Many of them are considered “museum quality”, and have much more weight to them. As for if you’ll notice the difference… well, that depends on your lighting set up, and how much you really pay attention to art. If I’m being 100% honest, 90% of people won’t notice the difference (don’t tell other photographers I said that, they’ll kill me.) I recommend getting the fine art prints if you really appreciate high quality paper and if you have the appropriate lighting set up to really show off the image.

4) So, why do you offer both? (also sizes)

A: I respect that not everyone can afford super high quality images, but may still want to support a small photographer (both in height and level of fame). As such, I’m trying to give an option that allows for more people to enjoy my work. This will also go for size. A lot of photographers might argue that A4 or 8x10 is too small to “appreciate” the work, but I’m not here to tell people how to enjoy the art they enjoy. I also understand that not everyone has the space required to hang up an a2 or 16x20 print.

5) What am I paying for?

A: I’m trying to keep my prices as low as possible. On general principle, I’m going to try to avoid putting the cost of things like travel or rental cars on my customers. If a particular image took a lot of time or effort to capture and perfect, it might reflect in the price, but I’ll try my best not to do that too much. I’ll try to break it down in a simple way.

Essentially, you’re paying for: Generally speaking, the cost to produce the prints

the cost of the paper

the printing service I use

and the money I spend going to and from the print shop

additionally, I’ve added an extra amount to each one, to ensure I make a least a little money. This is, after all, a business… of sorts. This may go up, the more and more I rely on photography as a source of income, so get them now while I’m a nobody and they are cheap!

Also, the rarity of the prints may be taken into consideration. So if I decide to just do a super limited run of 10 prints, rather than 25, the price of the super limited run might be a little more expensive because, again, this is a business, and these photos do technically quality as “art”, and the rarer something is, the more “value” it has.

6) So what am I not paying for, then?

A: What you’re not paying for: In a nutshell, my life choices

My gear

My travel expenses

My personal taste (yes some photographer charge more for some images because they “like them” more.)

The “journey” (yes, again, a lot of photographers charge extra for photos because the adventure or story behind the image). As mentioned above I’m going to try not to do this, but this may come into effect the more I rely on photography as a source of income. For now, my photos will have a generally flat rate, but if I’m able to get a shot with super rare conditions that required a lot of time, effort, and money, I might charge a little extra.

7) How much are you making per print?

A: When it came to my prices, my biggest concern was that people would think I jacked up the prices, just to make money. I mean, after all, these are just pieces of paper with pretty pictures printed on them, when you really think about it. While I won’t go into the specifics, all you really need to know is that if you buy my cheapest print, I make about 20usd, and if you buy the most expensive one, I still make around or slightly more than 50usd. Essentially, I added about 40% for my cheapest prints, and that number goes down to about 30% for the biggest one, as I wanted to keep things as cheap as possible, while still making this worth my time. When coming up with these numbers, I mostly took into consideration how much work it requires to go to the print shop, check the prints, take them home, pack them, and ship them. These might seem high, but if I’m being honest, they are seriously undervaluing my time as a photographer, a father, and a person. It takes me about 2.5 hours to pick up prints and get home. On top of that, I have to ride some of the busiest trains in Japan, so keeping the prints safe is a challenge in itself. So when you do all the math, it’s more or less like I’m working for minimum wage for small prints, and a semi decent wage for large prints. Again, as previously mentioned, these will change if I start to rely more on photography as a source of income, so get them now while I’m a nobody… or before I stay a nobody and have no choice but to shut down my website and these prints are lost to the sands of time…

Alright, so these are the questions I imagined some people might have. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me via the “contact” page or DM on Instagram… or ask me to my face, if you know me personally.

Thanks for reading… and apologies for any typos.