January 11, 2012, 11:12 AM —
John B. Mueller put a beautiful sunset photo on Flickr, then added the cost to take it: $6,612.
In "This Image Is Not Free" on Flickr and reprinted (with permission, we hope) on PetaPixel, Mueller lists how he came up with the cost of $6,612 for the photo. Since he lives in Ventura, the drive to the coastline for the photo cost only $12 in gas. The $6,600 comes from the cost of his Nikon D700, lens, filter, tripod, and some accessories. Add in the cost of a computer and Photoshop software, and you get the total. Mueller didn't add in any expense for his time taking the shot or the years of study to be able to develop his expertise.
Mueller's argument is simple: it cost him dearly to take that photo, so stealing it or offering him "credit" is insulting. The commentariot agree and disagree, sometimes in the same post. Unfortunately for Mueller and every other photographer and other artists, once something is rendered digitally, the cost of replication and distribution becomes close to zero. That's a long way from $6,612.
Stand firm, brother
About the Internet...
I promise you there are lots of people who would be willing to give out something for free, so it's harmless for those people to ask.
Eric on petapixel.com
The internet is not about content. It's about distribution. It costs a LOT of money to use a human -- the artist -- to "distribute" that image from nature onto his digital camera. From there it costs zero to distribute it to the rest of the world.
DanielBMarkham on news.ycombinator.com
All the rubbish about people paying for your 'past experience', 'schooling', 'equipment' and whatever is exactly that; rubbish. They are paying for a product. Full stop.
Jack on petapixel.com
Join the new world
I feel your pain, but if I was a magazine, website, corporation, sports team, or advertiser I would say you can sell 6612 images with the same cost so let's make it $2 so you can cover costs and have a decent profit :)
Chris Gin on flickr.com
I do think this article has a valid point about how photography costs a lot and therefore people shouldn't take images for granted. However, the angry tone of it is not something I agree with.
Morna on petapixel.com
Cameras are expensive. Photographs are almost worthless. Supply utterly outstrips demand, especially for shots like landscapes that have great appeal for amateur photographers but little commercial utility.
jdietrich on news.ycombinator.com
Is the photo worth considerably less if someone got lucky and took the shot with a cell phone?