PPOC display image

Monday, August 17, 2020


It recently came to the attention of PPOC that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) had published two blogs posts in July 2020, criticizing the Federal government’s use of and cost for professional photography services.

The PPOC has responded to the CTF to impress upon them the importance of Professional Photography and the real costs associated with producing a product that delivers the client’s message, from the skill required, the input of time, and the attention to details such as the use of appropriate contacts and model releases.

We’d like to share with you the response forwarded to the Chair of the Board of the CTF, expressing PPOC’s position.



*     *     *


August 11, 2020


Michelle Eaton

Chair of the Board

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

501 – 2201 11th Avenue

Regina, SK

S4P 0J8


Dear Ms. Eaton,

I am writing to provide comment on two recent posts from the CTF criticizing Federal government spending on Professional Photography services. Although I would agree that none of us likes to see our tax dollars mis-spent, these two particular posts were very dismissive of photography and the value of professional photography. It is easy to be critical of things that you do not understand and in both cases your investigative reporter James Woods seems to have stopped short of obtaining all of the facts prior to publishing these two stories (13/07/2020; 28/07/2020).

Taking a picture is easy. Having the ubiquitous cell phone in most people’s pockets makes that even easier but it has also contributed to the notion that “anyone with a camera could do that job” and dismisses the value of Professional Photography.

Understanding composition, lighting, perspective, colour and impact and using those to create an image to illustrate a concept or to deliver a specific message through a well-crafted photograph takes training, skill and practice just like any other profession. Hours of preparation go into the successful completion of a project including meeting with a client to understand their requirements, scouting appropriate locations, hiring models and stylists and renting equipment and studio space. The images are then created, a process that may take many hours. Post production of those images to prepare a completed set of photographic files that meet the client’s requirements can also take many hours. In the case of “Event Photography”, a professional photographer will ensure that appropriate contracts have been signed and releases obtained, something a bystander with a cell phone would most likely fail to procure. Photographers should be fairly compensated for their training, skills and time.

In one story (13/07/2020) it appears that the criticism is aimed at the “outcome” – “photos of oatmeal, bananas and people skating for the department’s Instagram account”. If one looks critically at the costs ($11,100) however, they were incurred over a one-year period and included food photography, at least two locations, two models and produced 200 images. One might be critical of the decision to hire a photographer instead of trying to obtain Stock images but the costs are reasonable given the length and logistics of the project.

The second story (28/07/2020) appears to be critical of the “outcome” as well – “A series of seven images posted from the same day of her speech show the minister using a laptop in a car, walking into the UN building in New York, meeting with diplomats, addressing the council, and walking away down a hallway”.

Obtaining those images required a photographer to be present during the entire event on three separate days. Again, if you look critically at the invoice - 3 single days of photography services that equates to $1782/day which would include presence at the events to capture the images as well as the post-production preparation of files. The fact that only 7 images were used by the client is not the decision of the photographer but that of the client.

In both of these examples it appears, from the information available, that the costs involved, and the services provided by the photographers were reasonable. Perhaps a successful Access to Information Request for the actual contracts involved will provide more information. The decisions as to why these projects were initiated in the first place were those of the Federal Government.

In future, if there are questions regarding professional photography services that the CTF has, we would be more than happy to provide detailed information regarding reasonable expectations.


Ross Outerbridge MPA

Chair, Professional Photographers of Canada.


*     *     *


Should you wish to review the original articles posted by the CTF, you may access them as follows:


Taxpayers pick up Instagram photography bill for Catherine Mckenna – again


Health Canada drops $11,100 on Instagram photography




Person icon