Future Costs of Editing and Displaying Images Online

I have been following a lot of the photography industry news lately. As someone who LOVES photography I can't help but be concerned with what the future holds in terms of the financial requirements needed to be able to continue to enjoy this art form I love. With that in mind I decided to do a break down of all the software and web costs associated with editing and displaying my photography on-line and see what the future might hold cost wise if I maintain all of my current needs and habits. I'll be excluding equipment costs like,  camera, lens, and computer hardware and just focusing on what I need to get my photo's edited and displayed on-line. With this assessment, its important you understand that I'm writing from the point of view of a Semi Professional Photographer. Since my main job is first and foremost being an Animation Artist at Dreamworks, its important to understand that my photography is more of a side business for me. At this current moment my photography generates some income throughout the year but not much. The income I do generate goes directly to covering a lot of the costs I'm about to list.

Like many Semi Professional Photographer its been my goal to at the very least have my photography business cover its costs and this will be a good indicator of how much money I'll need to make over the next year do just that. Lets check out the numbers.


Lightroom/Photoshop: $29.99-$49.99 a Month (Subscription to Creative Cloud)

Before the monthly payment announcement I actually purchased a license of Lightroom 4.0 and Photoshop CS6 bundled together for $389.90 on a B&H sale they had last August.  Because of that I should be eligible for the introductory $29.99 monthly subscription for one year. After that like everyone else, if I want to keep enjoying adobe products to edit my photo's I'll need to figure out how to add a $50 monthly payment into my budget.  Just to keep this in perspective, that is about how much I pay to have internet for our apartment every month.  This is really scary.

Nik Software: Free/$149.99 one time purchase ($12.50 a month for a year)

I was super lucky. I already owned HDR Efex Pro 2 from Nik before they announced their new pricing so I was able to get the whole suit for free after the new price announcement. This truly has been the biggest gift of all since I am using Nik Software more and more these days. I LOVE NIK.



Flickr:  $24.95 a year ($2.07 a month)

Flickr just recently sent waves through the industry when they announced a few days ago that they were going to eliminate the "Pro Accounts" moving forward and give everyone 1 terabyte of free storage for free. I have been a long time Pro user of flickr and have been enjoying Unlimited uploads and ad free web surfing since 2008. With Flickr's new announcement if I want to maintain my "Pro" status I'll have to sign up for a recurring pro account. Without the recurring pro account upgrade current pro users will be downgraded to the free account loosing all of their pro benefits for good with no way of returning. Such a bummer.  So If I want to maintain what I have I'll have to make sure I keep my account current forever paying the yearly fee.

Smugmug: $5-$35 Dollars a Month ($40.00-$300.00 a Year)

  1. Basic: $5/month or $40/year
  2. Power: $8/month or $60/year
  3. Professional: $20/month or $150/year
  4. Business: $35/month or $300/year

I'm currently at the "business" level with the originally cost around $150 a year or (12.50 a month).  With the price increase at Smugmug doubling the business cost from $150 to $300 there is just no way I can afford to pay those prices. To be honest the only thing I use Smugmug for is to push images to my website galleries as well as creating private password galleries for clients.  So moving forward I really only need to pay for the "Power" level to continue to use Smugmug at the same level I need it for.

Wordpress/Web Hosting:

Currently my website is Wordpress based. I love it because its easily updated from any web browser. The cost this year to setup my Wordpress site breaks down like this.

  1. Bluehost web hosting account: 3.95 per month (47.4 a year)
  2. Wordpress Theme: $45.00
  3. Web Developer for advanced adjustments: $150

Total: $20.2 a month ($47.4+$45.0+$150=($242.4)/12)


I'm currently only using the free account level over at 500px. However if I wanted to invest in that website in the future, here is the price breakdown to go to the "Pro Level" on that website.

  1. Pro Level: $25 per year ($2.08 a month)
  2. Awesome Level: $75 per year ($6.25 a month)

My Total Cost Breakdown Per Month:

$72.08 per month, $864.96 a year

  1. Lightroom/Photoshop: $29.99
  2. NiK Software: 0.00 (Thank you Google)
  3. Flickr: $2.07
  4. Smug Mug: $20.00
  5. Website/Webhosting: 20.02
  6. 500px: Free

$64.01 per month, $768.12 per year!

  1. Lightroom/Photoshop: $49.99
  2. NiK Software:??? ( I don't know what the upgrade cost will be in the future. Will see)
  3. Flickr: $2.07
  4. Smug Mug: $8.00
  5. Website/Webhosting: 3.95
  6. 500px: Free


So in order to maintain my current life style of editing my photo's in Lightroom and photoshop and uploading them to my favorite websites, (500px, flickr, Smugmug, and Wordpress Site) I will need to come up with $64.00-72.00 dollars a month!  That is a little shocking! I don't know about you but that seems like a lot.

What do you guys think? Can you afford $64.00-72.00 a month just to edit and post your photo's?