Have you noticed how expensive things are getting lately? I know that's a silly question since it would be almost impossible not to notice that gas is more than $4 per gallon, and almost everywhere you look the price of something is more than it was the last time you needed it.
As a small business owner I get a first-hand view of it every day. It seems like every month you get a notice that one of your utilities is going up, and don't even get me started on the cost of health insurance and taxes. Like everyone else, the photo industry is being affected by the economy. Transportation costs for materials are up due to the gas prices and Kodak announced this week that they are adding a fee to photo paper due to the current high price of silver. Silver is a major product used to manufacture photo paper.
I was sitting around pouting about the whole sad situation when I realized this is nothing new. I'm pretty sure when gas was 40 cents a gallon people complained about how high it was back then. Back then you never dreamed $4 a gallon could be a possibility.
After I finished pouting, I got to thinking about how much a picture costs compared to other things we buy and how long they last. It's not unusual to spend more than $20,000 for a new car that you most likely won't keep for 10 years and there is a good chance it will be in the scrap yard by the 20-year mark.
In comparison, a photograph costs almost nothing, yet it's not unusual for a photograph to be around for 100 years and some people wouldn't part with their pictures for any amount of money. Unlike most other things, your photographs actually increase in value over time. You've seen the commercial, new baby outfit $50, professional baby portraits $200, the look on grandma's face when she gets to see her grandchild for the first time, priceless. That's right, great photography is not expensive. It is priceless.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a Master Photographer, Certified Professional Photographer and past president of the Professional Photographers of West Virginia.)