on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Opportunity Cost

Is There Such a Thing as a Free Photograph?

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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I’d like to introduce an idea that comes from business planning but I think has a great deal of relevance to photography. The situation is as follows - you’re out on location and see something that interests you and the temptation is to say “well, digital photographs are free, film is cheap (ish). Why not have a go?” I’m hoping to highlight some of the reasons why this isn’t necessarily the best choice to make or why it’s worth thinking about in a slightly different way.

In business planning, when you make a proposal of any sort you are nearly always asked “How much is this going to cost us?” (even if you only ask it of yourself). The key thing to bear in mind when asking this is that it isn’t only direct monetary cost that is important - the financial cost is certainly a big factor but there is also something called “opportunity cost”.

Ultimately though, it’s about knowing what you want out of your photography and making the best use of one of the most valuable resources a photographer has to get it - time!



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