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Help on appropriate retouching salary?

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Old 10-27-2012, 02:16 PM
Aqua4ever Aqua4ever is offline
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Location: Kansas
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Question Help on appropriate retouching salary?

So here’s the situation: I’ve been working with photoshop and retouching for over five years now, taught myself the programs and everything else. I’m currently in school for Graphic Design. I was hanging out with my friend the other day, who is a pretty well known photographer in the area I live in. Found out he needed a retoucher and started messing around on one of his pictures and showed him some of my work, and he wants to hire me as his personal retoucher now. I have never been hired on with anyone before for retouching. The types of pictures I would be retouching are many different sets of photos anywhere from photos needing major flaw retouching glamor shots for playboy, that would need a lot of time put into each picture, to engagement photos and things like that. He is starting me off doing around 30 photos from 3 different photo sets, mostly glamor maybe a few manipulated creative photos. He’s going to give me a tablet he has and $50.

This is the tablet he’s giving me:

I just was wondering if this sounded like a good deal or not? I don’t know how much I should charge in this situation. But I would be doing photos all the time for him and they would be in photo sets of no more than 15 photos at the most. What do you think the right salary should be for this or future sets? He also said he would send more clients my way and I don’t know how to set salary rates yet...

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Old 10-27-2012, 03:36 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Location: Grand Junction CO USA
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Re: Help on appropriate retouching salary?

I cannot comment about the tablet.

However I always charged by the hour for retouching. To do so you have to take a very close look at your skills so you know how much you can do in an hour so you can give good estimates to your customers.

To know how much to charge per hour, you have to list all your expenses (cost of equipment, software, utilities, taxes, etc) plus what you want to pay yourself (wages). This can become a complicated task!
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Old 10-27-2012, 04:04 PM
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Nanls Nanls is offline
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Re: Help on appropriate retouching salary?

I also can't comment on the tablet; as it is not the one I use. I also think it depends on what part of the county, or what country you live in and of course your skill-level. I know a number of high-end freelance retouchers, besides myself in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas of CA. Average rate for product retouching for a hi-end freelancer is $65-$75 per hour. Fashion is more. As an employee you will not make as much, but that will hopefully be offset with benefits. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-27-2012, 04:52 PM
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Mike Needham Mike Needham is offline
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Re: Help on appropriate retouching salary?

The tablet is fine, it's a Wacom Bamboo (slightly older model).

About the $50, I would say work out the time spent, vs money earnt. 30 images, to me says about 2mins spent on each image.
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Old 10-27-2012, 09:49 PM
Aqua4ever Aqua4ever is offline
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Re: Help on appropriate retouching salary?

See that’s the thing, I would spend at least around 30 minutes or more on most of the images.
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Old 10-28-2012, 12:56 AM
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Repairman Repairman is offline
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Re: Help on appropriate retouching salary?

You have to charge for your time at a realistic rate or become a busy fool. As Mike says, work out your costs and come up with an hourly rate that provides you with a decent living and job pride. Per hour rates can always be adjusted if you think you've spent too long on an image whereas, burning the midnight oil on a 5 hour image for which you are being paid zip is the road to discontent! Unless you have a complete breakdown of all the brief I'd avoid doing it on a fee basis.
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:38 PM
RobertAsh RobertAsh is offline
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Location: Oakland, CA area
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Re: Help on appropriate retouching salary?

Originally Posted by Repairman View Post
...whereas, burning the midnight oil on a 5 hour image for which you are being paid zip is the road to discontent!...
That is absolutely right.

That said, please consider that I'm not a professional retoucher. I've been in similar-sounding situations for computer consulting and for photography products and services.

Regarding charging, is this your first time being employed as a retoucher? How much experience do you have? how good are you?

Pricing is tough because when you're starting out you have no experience base or basis of comparison.

Besides asking on this forum (very smart idea, by the way!) I'd recommend:
  • Do you know any other retouchers? if so then I'd ask them for some guidance once you get some images to retouch. Ask them "the photographer wants X, how long would that take you? how much do you charge per hour/job like this?"
    • Then time yourself doing the same work. That will give you a ballpark for the rate per hour that you're currently worth.
    • Reason being, your photographer friend probably knows what he'd be charged by a good retoucher for that job and you don't want to price yourself out of the job because you're not as fast yet.
  • Talk with the photographer and ask him what price range he's comfortable with. If your'e comfortable with it, great. If it seem low then ask him why. That can be valuable feedback.
In my experience, you have to start somewhere and you won't start at the top. Opportunities like this can be great learning experiences and could pave the path for something even better down the road. Being up front with him and negotiating something both of you feel comfortable with could be a win-win.
At some point as well, you'll get better, get more experience, get more jobs and command better rates. Hopefully you and your photographer friend can keep that relationship going and make it profitable for both of you for a long, close professional relationship.
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:45 PM
nancywilliams nancywilliams is offline
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Re: Help on appropriate retouching salary?

Any work we perform is based on the skills and dignity we use to do it. Its depend on your personal skills how much you can make an hour. work more earn more..
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