The Cost of Photography as a Hobby

Use this guide to plan for photography costs as you take up your new hobby

Thanks to smartphones, it's easy to take pictures wherever you are, from a family vacation to a wedding. However, you may want to take your photography to the next level by investing in photography courses and a good camera. Taking up photography as a hobby allows you to personally capture the special moments in your life such as family reunions, everyday adventures, vacations and more. Plus, if you have a blog, learning photography can allow you to use your own pictures instead of purchasing stock imagery. Before you begin photography as a hobby, use our guide below to see how much photography costs.

What are standard photography costs?

From the cost of a camera to taking classes, photography costs will vary based on your skill level and how much you want to spend on the essentials. Discover the most common photography costs below to get an idea of how much you need to save.

  • Camera. The cost of a camera is dependent on several factors, including megapixels, size, video capabilities and other technical elements, as well as whether it's waterproof, shockproof, crushproof, etc. A standard DSLR camera starts around $500 and can cost upwards of $8,000 for high-end models, while a smaller, point-and-shoot camera could cost anywhere from $75 to $500, according to High-quality film cameras can be purchased new or used from $200 to $2,000. The brand, whether you choose new or used equipment, and where you buy the camera can also affect price.
  • Lenses and flashes. If you are going to use your camera for more than capturing everyday moments, you'll likely want to purchase a camera designed for multiple lenses. Lenses are not where you want to save on price as the quality of the lens is extremely important to the final resolution of your photos. Each additional lens will cost $100 or more, though you can save a bit by purchasing a high-quality zoom lens to cover multiple needs. If you like to shoot in both film and digital, consider purchasing lenses that will mount on both cameras. If you want a flash or on-camera lighting, expect pricing to start around $50.
  • Tripod and case. A tripod may come in handy when you want to take family portraits or travel photos. You can expect to pay around $30 for an average tripod. It's also wise to buy a case to protect your camera when not in use. A quality camera bag will start around $30, though you can find cheaper options, or your camera may come with one when you purchase it.
  • Photography courses. If you're interested in advancing your skillset, you can take photography lessons from a private instructor or attend classes at a local community college or adult education center. Instructor fees vary depending on your level and techniques taught in the class. Some photography courses cost as low as $50 or as high as $150 per hour. You may also need to provide your own supplies, especially if the class is for film photography or you will be using photo-editing software.
  • Professional editing software, high-quality printer and photo paper. To edit and print your digital photos, you may want to purchase a photo-editing software suite and professional-grade printer. Quality software will cost around $70, while printers start around $99 but can cost more than $400 as you get into high-end models. Photo paper expenses will depend on how much you use, the size of your images, whether you use matte or glossy finishes and what brand you prefer.

What are the costs of film photography?

As you explore photography as a hobby, you may decide that you want to shoot in film. If so, you will need access to a dark room, enlargers and chemicals to develop negatives. The costs of shooting in film and setting up a dark room include:

  • Film and paper. Aside from the cost of a film camera mentioned above, you will also need to budget for film and paper. Depending on the brand, and if you're shooting in black and white or color, film may start around $2 a roll (24 photos). You can also buy in bulk with reusable canisters to save money. Photography paper for film is different than paper for digital. It is light-sensitive and will need to be stored in a cool, dark place. You'll likely spend $20 on a box of 25 8x10" sheets.
  • Darkroom. As you grow your abilities, you may want to have access to a darkroom in your home. A spare room can be converted to a darkroom, though the space will need ventilation, electricity, a safelight that creates a brown or red glow, an enlarger and filters, and a sink to develop and rinse in.
  • Chemicals, a developing tank and more. There are several chemicals needed to process your photos: developer, stop-bath, fixer, and possibly a wetting agent. Altogether, these chemicals will cost around $50 per batch, and you will need containers for storing them. To prepare your film for development, you'll need a tank with two adjustable film reels, a mix-up cup to prepare your developer and a thermometer to test the temperature of your chemicals. When developing the photos, you'll need trays, tongs and a timer to keep track of film development. Stainless steel clips can also come in handy when hanging your negatives or finished photos to dry.

Open a Circle Gold Banking® package to manage photography costs

Consolidating your accounts together in a Circle Gold Banking package, which includes an interest checking account, savings account, and optional money market account, makes it easy to save and manage spending. As we've outlined above, photography costs include much more than just the cost of a camera. To pay for photography as a hobby, you may want to open a new bank account and create a budget to ensure you've saved and planned for everything you need or want, from photography courses to creating your own dark room.


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