Why Are Stock Photos So Expensive?

As you were working on your latest article or blog post, you suddenly realize you need that perfect photo. You opened up a few stock photo sites and WOW, your jaw dropped as you saw the cost! You want more then the free ones offer, but really, do stock photos need to cost this much?

Stock photos are so expensive because of the cost of the camera equipment, the using of casting models, editing the raw images, preparing the photos to be uploaded, and the fact the photographer is trying to make a living.

You had no idea of all the hands that went into your chosen stock photo? It’s easy to think they just all simply appear for your pleasure, keep reading to learn more about why stock photos are so expensive.

What makes stock photos expensive?

Even with all the free Stock Photo sites, better photos can be bought for a price. Here are the main reasons why stock photos are so expensive.

  • Cost of Camera Equipment: Depending on the type of stock photo taken, from a postage stamp to a billboard the type of camera needed varies. Yes, you can use your phone, but sometimes a more modern camera is needed to do the best job. And it’s not just the type of camera, you also need to look at the mega pixels and the lens.
  • Cost of the Casting Model: If someone is hired to pose in the picture, the model can cost anywhere from $75 to $100 an hour or up to $1000 a day if they are represented by an agency. That money comes from someone.
  • Cost of Editing and Uploading: For each photo the editing time can range from 15 minutes to an hour on Each Photo. It might not have an exact dollar amount to it, but time costs money.
  • Time in Making A Living: There was a range in the actual dollar figure for someone sending in stock photos, 25-45 cents per image per month depending on agencies, skill in key wording, and how original the photo is all makes its mark.

Those are just some of the costs involved in why stock photos are so expensive, however there has to be more to involved for the price to be that much.

Stock Photography is Not Just Snapping Any Old Picture

Okay, so if those are some of the costs, isn’t it still just snapping a picture? Anyone can do that, right? How much can really go into taking a picture that looks good, and can justify that price?

If it’s point and click, why are stock photos expensive?

The photographer puts in a lot of effort to get that perfect shot. They not only guide the model into the right pose, remind or encourage them to smile, or look soft, or look angry but not forced or fake. Not to smile too much or tilt their head just so…or maybe tilt their head the other way.

They might have to have them move in a certain way, position, reposition, and again cheer on the model to get that action shot and encourage them to hold the position to get that perfect shot. The photographer him or herself, may also have to crawl on the ground, climb a tree, stand above them or move their own bodies awkwardly into the right place to capture just the right moment.

What about weather conditions? They might stand in the hot sun, get soaked in the rain, freeze in the snow, or feel the fear during wild storms, all to capture a stock photo for you. They might get up before the sun and set up for that sunrise, stay out super late to get the sunset or that beautiful moon shot. They might wait in the woods or fields to catch the perfect image of that cute animal everyone wants to gush about.

They might climb crazy heights, jump out of aircrafts, head down tunnels or other crazy adventures just for you or I to have the stock photo that screams adventure.

Or take picture after picture to get just the right look, or just the right angle. However, it doesn’t end with the click of the camera. Don’t forget about the edit time, the perfecting and removing of imperfections on those photos. It all takes the time that we don’t take, even with our pictures.

They want perfection! They want to give you the look that is perfect for your article, blog post, story, or whatever you need it for.

Photographers Make A living With Stock Photos

One of the main reasons why Stock Photos are expensive is because the photographers want to make a living by doing what they enjoy doing.

 If you love taking pictures, why wouldn’t you try making money at it?

Here are some other money facts about the photographers and the work they do.

The range of what you can be paid is staggering. Some are paid very little, from $0.02 per month per photo. The pro’s make $0.05 to $0.25 per month per photo on some sites.

Looking at those numbers, you could be scratching your head and thinking, why would anyone want to do this? Not to mention if that’s all they are being paid, again why are stock photos so expensive?

That’s not the only pay scale. Some photographers are paid $0.10 to $2.24 per image for subscriptions based on purchases up to $99.50. And some stock photo agencies pay $0.32 per sale of royalty free licenses.

The bottom line is if the photographers for stock photos puts in the work and effort, they should be paid well for it. Stock photos come in different qualities, and styles and the variety of images available can suit different budgets.

Final Words

There is a number of Stock Photo sites to choose from these days. However, if you want that “next level” stock photo that catches your eye, but makes you frown due to how expensive it is, remember what went into it and the why it’s expensive. Look at the quality. Look at how you respond to it.

Is it worth the expense, now that you know why Stock photos are expensive? We think so, because it saves you the time and money it would cost to hire a professional photographer for each of your projects.