Why do photographers charge so much for a single photograph?
It's only a photo. All the photographer had to do was click the shutter. There can't be that much to it, can there?
What that subjective viewpoint all boils down to is: entitlement - the expectation that everything that you see is subject to your internal valuation scale. The "if I can click the shutter and get a picture that, in my viewpoint, is good...that's all the skill level that anyone needs to be a photographer" mentality. Which is one of the reasons why photographic skill is so devalued in the digital age.
The skill level of a photographer is the same as that of any other person who is a creative that has put thousands of hours into their craft along with a touch of natural talent. Contained unseen, within that single photo, is all the training - whether self-taught or within a classroom, the knowledge contained within the photographer to capture the right moment with the right exposure, the right composition to evoke a response out of you whether it be a "nice picture" or "OMG that's gorgeous". And it is not a one-time chance hit. Photographers or those who have the right to call themselves photographers, can achieve that "hit" again and again, because of the fact that they know what to do when they have a camera in their hand.
Believe it or not, the iPhone cannot replace photographers. There will always be those who have the eye for photography.
Also if the person is running the business of photography, his/her photography is their product. And that product, just like in any other business, has to sell in order to pay for expenses, like his shooting trips, his equipment and his office expenses. And that, just like in any business, is passed along to the customer. When you go to a store like Wal-Mart and you buy a product, it's not a simple exchange of product for money, your money in exchange for the product goes to pay for people's salaries, for more product, for business expenses. Why should it be any different for photography?
When you buy that photo, it goes towards upgrading my camera system because every shutter click I put on my equipment brings it that much closer to it needing to be replaced. It goes towards paying the rent on my office space (lucky for you, I work from home), thirdly, my developing tools also need to be replaced, which in this case is a computer (or my digital darkroom). Also, I go on trips to create my photos - your buying my photo for fair market value pays for the gas in my car, the food I eat and clothes for my children; all the same as in any business.
So, I do take exception when people say, "Why do photographers charge so much for a single photograph." - It's experience and expenses that go into each and every single photograph that I produce. Simple as that. Same as any person working a job - to pay for the things that are important to them, equipment, creating product for money, and supporting their family.