I'm a bit old school when it comes to photography. My dad bought me my first SLR camera when I was in junior high: and most people don't really know this, but that camera was one of my saving graces. Up until that time, I had been painfully shy, had very few real friends, and was involved in very few school activities. Because I enjoyed photography, and my brother had a darkroom at home, I discovered that not only could I take good pictures, but I could “hide” behind the camera when I was at events and not feel pressured to talk to someone every moment. It gave me breathing room, and a chance to discover my expression of social skills.
So anyway, I've always had a connection to photography. When digital cameras first came out, the small camera wanna-bes that fit in your palm and cost next to nothing (nowadays they're part of every cell phone) I accepted them for what they were: fast and easy when I had nothing else. And I got some good versions, that did more than just point-and-shoot. And they were good, but still nothing like my film camera.
Then I got my first digital SLR, about 6 or 7 years ago, and it cost just over a thousand dollars. This was the first camera with resolution that would approach 35mm film: and camera resolution has only improved since then. (I just recently upgraded to the newer version of the same camera... ten times the resolution... for about the same cost.) I remember when I first started, I tried to figure out how long it would take to pay for itself. At that time I was taking about a roll of film a week, and at ~$25.00 in costs and processing, I figured it would take ten months to pay for itself. But, of course, when you're not paying anything, you're much more free to take pictures. Using digital (much like when I was taking black and white and processing myself) I can snap as many as I want and it costs nothing more.
This morning I went to the BIST 5km walk/run/roll and took pictures, which I want to get up online as soon as I can. So I started downloading as soon as I got home. I discovered that I'd not yet downloaded several weeks of pictures. We've done a bit of travel this month, so I've got 812 pictures since September 1st. Using my original calculations... $25 for a roll of 24 pictures, or about a dollar a picture, that would have cost me over 800 dollars to process.
I think I just paid for my camera.