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How much money does a typical photographer spend on equipment every year?

I'm a senior in high school and I've been looking into photography as a potential career. I'm aware this career requires a lot of equipment. However, in my research I was not able to find a specific amount of money one has to spend on the required equipment. Is it possible for someone to break down the potential costs for me? #photography #photographer #expenses

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Sara’s Answer

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It is really hard to say, but you should count on replacing your DSLR every 2-4 years, and those typically range from 1,600 on the low end all the way up to 6,000 on the extremely high end (I myself have two Canon Mk II bodies, each was around 2100 when I bought them). You should invest in good glass, as lenses that are well-cared for rarely need to be replaced. Count on having to get a new laptop every 3-5 years as well, and having to buy external harddrives to back up your work. There are lots of other little costs, but I think the important thing to remember is not to get mired in buying gear all at once. Do not go into debt. Build your collection of gear slowly, carefully, as you are learning. The tools make it easier to do the job, but at the end of the day, it is really best to remember that YOU are the most important tool of all, and having a good eye and an even better work ethic will trump everything else. Good luck! ~ Sara Lewkowicz

Thank you comment icon Your answer was very helpful ! Jennifer
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Cynthia’s Answer

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I think it's hard to answer, as there are so many things that factor into the answer. For example, someone who photographs weddings will need different equipment than someone who shoots solely in a studio. If you're looking to be a natural light, on-location photographer, you could start with just one camera body and 1-2 lenses. If you plan on shooting weddings, you will need at least 2 camera bodies, 1-2 flashes, and a variety of lenses. If you plan to shoot in a studio you will need much more lighting equipment. I am primarily a natural light portrait & wedding photographer. I currently own 4 camera bodies, 8 lenses, 3 flashes, and 2 video lights. I've accumulated those over the past 5 years that I've been in business, they were not all purchased at the start of my business.
I'd estimate that I spend about $4000/yr on camera equipment alone. However, you should take into consideration that more than camera equipment alone will be needed, as you will need a computer, editing software (I use Photoshop 5, Lightroom, and Photomechanic). There are also tons of other expenses such as insurance, studio management software, marketing pieces, website hosting, props, memory cards, external hard drives, further education (workshops and classes) and an accountant, for example, that go into running a business. I'm not sure if you needed to know a number specifically for camera equipment alone or other expenses as well. I'm sure that every photography business is different. It is very important to figure out your expenses as you begin your business, as it's impossible to price yourself in a way that will allow your business to grow successfully and profitably without knowing what the business will cost you. I hope that helps!
(Submitting this on behalf of a friend who is a Photographer)!

1) I don't know what the typical yearly outlay is for equipment for the typical photographer. It is an expensive profession to get into, but the equipment you purchase should last 5 years before upgrading. $5,000 should get you a good Camera body and a lens or two. It depends on what area on photography you go into. Computers and software might also be included in this as these tend to need replacing more often than camera equipment.
2) Passion made me pursue photography as my life's work. I was 10 yrs old when I started and have been learning continuously since then. The stunning images made by a cousin was my first introduction to the art.
3) At your age I would attend your states local PPA for a year to get a well rounded idea of what's out there. I would also visit photographic galleries and exhibitions. Then determine your passion and pursue it. (submitting this post on behalf of a friend who is a professional photographer and owns a gallery)!
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David’s Answer

When I started out, I borrowed money to get the basics - a phone, computer, desk, camera, lenses, etc. I would suggest holding out until you can afford something that's well made rather than the cheaper version. Then, as you begin to get work, rent what you don't have and then spend 10-20% of your profits on new equipment. Remember that you are establishing a look for yourself and that if you use marginalized equipment, the work you put out will be compromised. That work is the best reason for you to get hired, so establish yourself as putting out a quality product early.
Good luck!

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