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Frustrated...finding work

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Old 09-05-2006, 09:09 PM
1STLITE's Avatar
1STLITE 1STLITE is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Mississippi, USA
Posts: 346
Frustrated...finding work

I have been so absent, I know. I had a few things to say and figured I'd get it all out at once here, since I am having an issue and would love to hear from you all on it.

First I want to say how very much I appreciate how much everyone here has helped me learn and grow as a digital artist. I feel I have found my true love, and it started here! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart! I thought and you all thought I was just here learning about restoring and retouching photos, but it has turned into me finding my true love creating my own images as a photographer. I still have so much to learn about photography, and my business it just barely getting off the ground, but the props are turning at least. I owe you all so much!

Now, for the issue at hand - I am truly becoming so frustrated. As I work toward getting my photography business off the ground, I would love - and NEED so much to be working. I want to be able to get some work retouching. In these 3-4 years I have not been able to figure out where or how to find work. This is where I have become frustrated. Where on earth do I go about finding legitimate work? How do I go about pricing my work? I would love to market my skills to other photographers, but I honestly do not know what to say when they ask me "how much?" - and this has be paralized in the whole process.
Another thing that I think is holding me up is that I got taken - Yes, I trusted a photographer to pay me, and he stiffed me on it. He is even now using my work in his portfolio, and hasn't paid me a cent. He was all talk I suppose, had all these great projects going and was so glad to have foudn me to retouch for him- blah blah. This was a while back, so there is at least a scab on the wound, but I am afraid of the next time.
Seriously I need help here - badly. Our financial situation is so terrible right now, and I want to be able to contribute something - I want to feel as though I have accomplished something in the 3-4 years I have been learning retouching and restoration. I don't want to have to go spend my days lugging boxes in the local dollar store if I can help it, but it may be coming to that.

I just do not know where to begin... Please, if anyone has any input I woudl be so grateful If you don't feel comfortable discussing it in public I would love an e-mail. I know you all have done so much for me already, but please know I am truly grateful. I hope that what I am asking is not too much.

Thank you so much in advance!
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Old 09-06-2006, 02:24 AM
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NancyJ NancyJ is offline
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First thing I would do is get a debt collection agency (or a friend pretending ) onto that photographer who didnt pay you.
You will not survive long in the business if you just accept non payment like that
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Old 09-06-2006, 07:50 AM
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1STLITE 1STLITE is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Mississippi, USA
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It wasn't much money. Only $40. But I know what you are saying, NancyJ. It is still the principal of the thing. What do you suggest I do in the future to avoid this - watermark like crazy til I'm paid, basically, huh?
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Old 09-06-2006, 09:12 AM
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Janet Petty Janet Petty is offline
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I'll probably get flamed for this but I'm going to say it anyway.

You asked about price setting. I have friends who are professionals that charge what I consider an arm and a leg (overpriced) for their work; and I'm not talking about just photography and related subjects. They get what they ask because they have a quality product AND they live in an area of the country that can and does support a different economic structure than where I live. When they sell in a different locale, their work is priced according to what the economy can bear, sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes not much is sold because the vendor read the market wrong and items are wrong for the area, economy, etc. It is very disappointing when that happens. And businesses fail because of it all the time.

I don't know where in Mississippi you live; but if it is anything like where I'm at, the economy is poor with the average income barely above or at what many consider to be poverty level. Yet, people have adapted; prices for goods and services are lower as a general rule. For the retouching and artwork I do, I have to price accordingly or I would put myself out of work in a hurry. I also supplement my income, such that it is, with a real job that pays the bills.

In other words, you can't count on a full time retouching business to bring in money unless you are willing to do what it takes. The fact is that most people would rather have a snapshot than pay the money for a grand photo. I've seen people drool over something they wanted and then check the price and move on with a sigh because they weren't willing or couldn't part with the money for a quality product. I'd rather make a sale with a small profit than overcharge and not sell a thing.

In dealing with the public and others, a written contract, a quality portfolio, and lots of "word-of-mouth" advertising will go a long way to helping out your situation. I too got "stiffed" by a dear friend that I trusted. Next time you can sign me...

...learning from my own mistakes. Good luck,

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Old 09-06-2006, 10:05 AM
Cassidy Cassidy is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,104
Need to say what needs to be said Janet

We are not in an affluent area, and despite our govt talking up how great our economy is, we are hurting, husband taking up casual work to fill in the gaps has gone from $25 per hr to $16-17 per hour (just what market is bearing atm). It is all relevant, however, do not underestimate yourself nor your ability, somewhere in the equation you have to value yourself as worthwhile which also has to be appreciated
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Old 09-06-2006, 11:09 AM
emarts emarts is offline
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Northern, NJ
Posts: 135
As far as getting stiffed is concerned, I always ask for money up front with a new client. For $40.00 I would have asked for all of it. Larger projects, I usually ask for 50%. And then I don't hand anything over until I get the final 50%.

As for trying to get work, you could try what I've started to do. Work for tips. See my website for more information:

Basically I wrote a press release (I will be sending them to local papers soon) and sent it to everyone I know asking them to pass it along. It's scary to offer work for tips, but I'm brand new at this also and needed some marketing hook to capture some attention. I'll let you know how it goes after a few weeks. BTW, this is just for portrait work for consumers. B2B work I get paid well for.
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Old 09-06-2006, 05:18 PM
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1STLITE 1STLITE is offline
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Location: Mississippi, USA
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Janet, you really have hit the nail on the head in alot of ways, especially as far as local charging. For my photography business it is not really an issue, easy to know what to charge based on everyone else around here. For retouching and trying to do that for local (and non-local) photographers, it is another story. And as I said there is then the issue of how to get and where to find jobs in retouching. Is there even such a thing? At this point I seriously wonder.

Cassidy - Thanks for the pep talk. I need it right now.

Emarts - Very interesting idea you have there. Definitely let me know how that goes for you. Seriously the more I read and think about it - that is a realllly good idea.

Anyone else have any ideas?

Last edited by 1STLITE; 09-06-2006 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:50 AM
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jenniferfrances jenniferfrances is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: New York
Posts: 40
Re: Frustrated...finding work

i know this was posted awhile ago but here are my 2 cents.

I live in NJ. I am a full time online catalog retoucher in the fashion industry.
For this work I am paid $15/hr. I generate on average of about 80 images a day...some images take 2 mins to retouch, others take about 15 mins.

When i do freelance work on the side I charge more. ($20-$35/hr) .some people also choose to be paid per image. ive heard quotes range from .50 to $2.00 per image.
when i agree to do work I have a contract signed for a set # of images.
and i always get 50% upfront.

hope this helps
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