How much is an image worth?

Monochrome Wednesday - Flatiron in New York

One question I’ve been asked a lot is how much will it cost to buy one of my images. Another question is how much should I charge for my images.

They are such hard questions. There are so many variables that have to be considered. I’m not going to go into all that here, but rather I thought we might look at some of the most expensive photographs ever sold.

Most expensive images

Now I can’t show you those images, and the images in this post are the ones that I wish were worth a lot of money.

So I have found an article for us all to look at and discuss.

Most expensive photographs ever sold

So take a look and then we can talk.

I have some questions that you can ask yourself and perhaps discuss in the comments.

Do they seem to be really good images?

Perhaps why it isn’t worth that much?

Why do you think they would be worth so much money?

Do you think it has more to do with the photographer/artist than the actual image?

Who decides how much an image is worth?

Do you have other questions that I haven’t thought about?

I’m not sure I will answer all comments, I had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and I’m not feeling well from it. However, you can rest assured that I will read every one of them.



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  1. I remember seeing Rhein II in the Tate Modern soon after it was purchased, and was more impressed by its size than by subject. That I could buy a pistcard for a few pounds and by holding clise I could get the same visual effect as this large print amused me.

  2. I am always amazed by huge value auctions, be it art property or whatever. But it just as said here in the comments, what is it worth to the new owner. Are they vuying the picture to please an inner desire or to then boast to others “look at this, i spent millions on it!”

    And then there is the separate issue of reproduction,

  3. How much is a photo worth? If it’s a one-of-a-kind, private commission, then it’s whatever you can get ,,, particularly if there’s a bit of work to find the scene and how long you spend on site. I wouldn’t hesitate to start at $1250 US, more if the client wants to select from an array. Your Port Campbell image above, I’d probably offer $500 US for a 16 X 20 print and you were to sell it as the only print. (I have a fondness for stormy, nautical scenes.) My wife found my stormy nautical scene last Christmas from a photographer who was selling limited edition storm scenes of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. I think Laurie spent $750 on the print (20 X 24).

    Sorry you felt like crap after your first dose of the vaccine. Hope you’re feeling better. Everyone seems to have a different reaction; some have no reaction. Then, there’s a few that have a very bad reaction (like me).

    Stay well.

  4. Your photographies or images are stunning! Keep it up!

    It would be grateful if you could visit my blog as well.

    Thanks a lot. ❤️

  5. Great post, Leanne. I myself always struggle with how much to charge for my photography work in prints. Some people tall me that I should sell them for much more than I offer. It’s an endless struggle within me. But thank you for your great post.

  6. This is a thought provoking post, Leanne!

    When I was in my early 20s I was at an art shop in a coastal vacation town. I fell in love with a painting. It cost several hundred dollars, which at the time was a lot of money for me. So I left it at the shop, knowing I shouldn’t buy impulsively. Back at home, I couldn’t get the painting off my mind, but I was also having a hard time knowing if the amount was worth the painting. My mother had an artist friend and suggested I call her and ask for her advice. I did. I started by describing the painting to her – it’s size, what it depicted, the artist’s name, the shop name, etc. She listened patiently, then said, “All it comes down to is – do you like it enough to pay that much money. It’s not about the painting itself. It’s about its value to you.” I went back and bought the painting.

    I’m sure the multimillion dollar photos shown in the link you shared have passed through several hands before landing at auction. Those paintings have built value over many years, probably decades (otherwise they wouldn’t be at auction) because they have been so desired by individuals, they’ve offered ever increasing amounts to own them. They’ve become collectors items. That’s an entirely different market than new photos by photographers with some, little, or no name recognition.

    I price my work (I’m in the category of little to no name recognition!) based on their uniqueness. I consider my most valuable photo one I took of the moon. By a one-in-a-million chance, a jetliner passed by the lower section of the moon. (In the moment, I though a mosquito had gotten into the lens hood.) When I reviewed the photos on my computer a couple of hours later, I was blown away by the silhouette of a tiny jet in my image, placed with perfection, headed toward Tycho. I took the photo about 25 miles north of Boston Ma USA. I’m sure the jet had just come out of Logan Airport. I was shooting about one image per second. The jet isn’t in the photos before or after the one it appears in. It was a chance fleeting second.

    Leanne, your photos require so much thought, planning, showing up (with the preplanned gear) – sometimes with travel costs, tons of post production work. All of this adds value to your images. And I think of your style as unique and recognizable as yours. I think there’s a lot of value in being able to recognize who the artist is.

    Another thing that adds value is what the final product is that the buyer wants. Is it the raw image with copyright? Is it a small print? Is it a large print? Is it framed? Is it one of a limited edition?

    I once sat next to a woman in a waiting room at a doctor’s office. We began chatting. We stumbled into that we had photography in common. She then told me that she was doing renovations of her house and she shared the details of the project. It was extensive. She said she was able to afford it because of a one photo she had taken. She was an amateur photographer, like me. One of her photos had caught someone’s eye, who passed it on to someone else and so on. Ultimately, the rights to it were bought by a company that mass produced office decor. That one photo (a field of tulips) had paid royalties to the woman for most of her life. She didn’t have to work because of that one photo. I knew exactly the photo she was talking about. I’d seen it plenty of times in offices. She was no Ansel Adams, but all it took was that one shot to set her up for life.

    I think my point is, there are different paths and multiple variables to the value of a photo.

    Leanne, if I were your agent (I’m not an agent!) I would show your buildings photos to architectural firms, and ask if they had interest in purchasing them for the decor in their office buildings. And I would think any business enterprise (banks, etc.) in the cities where these buildings are, would have interest in using your photos in their offices.

    Hope you feel better soon Leanne!


    1. I know some people have been so lucky, but not me, I’m okay witht hat now. I am just going to enjoy it and not stress about making money anymore. Perhaps it just was never meant to be for someone like me.

    1. Excellent thought provoking article. I had no idea that photography images could be sold for those amounts. I don’t have a clue what to charge or even how to go about it. I had the same Pfizer vaccine. Thankfully I didn’t have any reaction. Hope you get to feeling better soon. I want you to know that your gardening videos and post inspired me to have a garden and to plant wild flowers in it. Please keep sharing.

  7. Beautiful photos, Leanne! Wow. I had the Pfizer vaccine too, the first shot made me feel terrible with a throbbing headache and extreme fatigue. It lasted two days. The second shot did nothing. Feel well soon!

  8. I would add one more question, which I came across while watching a video of a British landscape photographer:

    It’s that something that people would like to put on their wall and see every day?

  9. Surreal images, I would construct a minimum cost, taking into account all the costs of production, your artistic interpretation and a profit margin, this would seem like a realistic price and then ask what a person would like to pay?

  10. Don’t want to sound cynical but it appears that a photograph is worth what people are prepared to pay. I suppose when you think of pictures in newspapers, it’s how much they think they are worth in boosting sales and with well known people maybe it is how much people think they will be worth later. In the hospital they have large coloured prints of photographs on the walls and they certainly brighten up the place but I don’t know what they would have cost. I could enjoy living with a large print of your tree on the mauve background but I doubt I could justify the expense.

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