Re: Retouchers - rates and time help, please
To be perfectly honest, I think you must be a little slow at your work. There are times when pixel by pixel retouching may be important. Say the work is being blown up to a significant increase in size or has specific technical issues. But an actor's headshot will rarely be larger than an 8" x 10", often only being printed at 150 dpi. Even with a background removal, unless it was truly something tricky or demanding I couldn't see more than two hours tops per shot.
For example, I had a production photo for a large national arts company that recently engaged me on a high-resolution image to remove a massive amount of paint splatters on the singer in the shot. I was literally reconstructing some parts of her body and still came in under two hours. A respected friend and colleague confirmed that it was completely realistic and my work unnoticeable.
If you've not incorporated shortcuts or time-savers for less important areas of the shot, you're doing a disservice to the client. If you're having to truly spend 10 hours on a single image, the photographer is doing a disservice to you. If a client doesn't mind spending $400 for retouching on a single image, they're doing a disservice to themselves.