Over on Flickr, Extra Medium posted a great one about why our photos are not free. The post is accompanied by a great photo, but it would be wrong of me to hotlink to it here. You'll just have to do the clicky thing to see it yourself. Click here.
As an example, here is one of my photos. It took weeks of planning, research, airfare, rental car, meals, and hotels to obtain and bring back home for your viewing pleasure, Gentle Reader. This one wasn't free, either.
One thing the Extra Medium doesn't take into account in the monetary calculations is time. Time to research and obtain the gear. Time to travel to the photo. Time to process it. Time to create the entire infrastructure of camera, computer, software, ISP and all the other little bits required to post the photo on the Internet.
Time, time, time.
More importantly, time spent reading, looking, and thinking about photography. Good photos require forethought and preparation. Yes, sometimes good photos happen in an unexpected instant, but the brain behind the viewfinder has spent so much time thinking in photography mode that all the elements come together in a perfect and reflexive way.
Our time is valuable because each of us only have so much of it, and when it's gone, that is all.
What is time worth? A lot.