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The True Cost of Being an Equine Photographer

If there’s one surefire way to end a conversation with a horse person, it’s this: ask them to break down exactly what they’re shelling out for their four-legged friend every year. A hard yikes, right? But while it can feel so, SO tempting to ignore our version of the issue, as an equestrian photographer, you’ve got to be brave enough to face the music and crunch the numbers to find out the outgoings of what you do.

But why? Well, for one thing, it’ll help you with budgeting. But that’s a bit boring, and falls far short of the primary reason – knowing exactly what you’re spending on your business allows you to see your own worth, and it’ll help you figure out what to charge, too. So, no matter how scary it might seem (‘my lenses cost me how much?!’), taking charge will help you to make that money back.

It’s not just about the cost of your equipment, although that’s a good place to start. Make a list of every expenditure you’ve made, sectioning it out into categories if it’s easier:

  • Camera body: £1500
  • Lens 1: £1000
  • Lens 2: £750
  • Spare battery: £50
  • Battery grip: £75
  • Memory cards: £75
  • Computer: £1500
  • Camera bag: £50

And so on, and so forth. Next, make a list of all the little necessities you’ve bought to get through shoots – polos, baby wipes, a leather headcollar, all those small expenses. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they add up.

Now, make sure you’ve got all your digital expenses accounted for. These can include Adobe memberships, website costs, marketing expenses, custom emails, CMS, online courses, Canva accounts, and anything else you may use online to further your business.

Finally, tot up the miscellaneous necessities: insurance, your photography education, the utility bills you pay for your studio space, and the cost of keeping your car on the road.

Once you see your own outgoings, you might be slightly horrified – and that’s okay. It’s doubly okay if it makes you rethink that £100 shoot fee you’re charging. Isn’t your time worth more than that? Isn’t your equipment worth more than that?

What many people don’t realise is that when they invest in a photoshoot, they’re not just paying for nice photos – they’re paying for years of experience, a considerable amount of training, and a huge investment, both financially and in time and sacrifice. They’re not buying into someone’s hobby, they’re buying into someone’s passion and drive. That has to come at a cost.

Stop undervaluing yourself. You wouldn’t try to haggle for a professional camera at well below market value, but that camera is only as good as the person using it – so why would you consider yourself less of an investment. With an idea of the initial and ongoing financial investment you’ve made, you can start making some clear decisions about exactly what your time is worth. Then, your business can really soar.