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Work/Jobs Talk about the business side of things. Advice, questions, inspiration, and moral support

Making a living

View Poll Results: Can you make a living doing photo restoration?
Yes, I'm already doing that very thing 15 10.20%
Yes, I plan on doing that very thing 31 21.09%
Maybe, but I'd need a lot more jobs 75 51.02%
Can't be done, but it's still fun 26 17.69%
Voters: 147. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-04-2002, 07:12 AM
thomasgeorge's Avatar
thomasgeorge thomasgeorge is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,045
Salesmanship consists mainly of treating your clients and/or potential clients as you would want to be treated. By this I mean be honest, avoid high pressure type tactics, obfuscation and exaggerated claims. If you are genuinely interested in your clients, their photos and helping them preserve their treasured memories and project this by your atitude and demeanor, you will not loose many sales. Those who use any tactic to get a sale are better suited to Carnival midway type work than serious Professional type vocations. It takes time to build up a successful business and the best advertising is word of mouth coupled with some exposure in newspapers, flyers etc.. Telling yourself " I'm no good at this or that" is to be avoided. Rather, just resolve to be honest and friendly with your customers and they will respond. Just give it time. Integrity and honesty are your best advertising tools. Tom
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Old 05-04-2002, 11:02 AM
DannyRaphael's Avatar
DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Near Seattle, Washington, USA
Posts: 6,300

I agree with everything you've said here. It's based on time tested practices of successful businesses.

Just about everyone has heard of the Nordstrom success story. They built their business and reputation on truly exceptional customer service and a "no questions asked return policy." For example salespeople in the shoe department would greet customers "by name"; salespeople in clothing departments kept personal notes on customer preferences and (literally) sent hand written notes with notification of upcoming new items or sales. Now, that's service worth telling others about (and it worked).

If walk-in, word of mouth or traditional advertising are not sufficient to generate enough business to "make a living" and one wants to stay in business, then other forms of creative promotion and salesmanship are warranted. ("If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.")

I hope you didn't interpret my 4 a.m. rambling thoughts to suggest antics such as running in front of people, snapping a photo and shoving business cards in their faces. (After rereading my post, perhaps you [and others] did.) If so, those types of tactics would turn people off faster than a cold bucket of water in the face. (Wait a minute... water would cool them off... but you know what I mean.) Nobody would like to be treated like that.

If, on the other hand, you approched potential customers, introduced yourself and briefly explained a service that might be of interest to them and then offered a complimentary sample, that might lead to a business you wouldn't get otherwise.

Bottom line: Honesty, intregity and customer service are essential to succeed in any business. Thanks for sharing your wise words. I wish more of the businesses I normally deal with practiced what you preach, and I mean preach in the positive sense. Isn't it too bad these days that "exceptional service" is the exception and not the rule?

I think I'd have a heart attack if I pulled into the local 7-11 for gas and an attendant ran out, pumped my gas, checked my oil, washed the windshield and put air in the tires without being asked, without expecting a $5 tip and w/o paying an extra half buck a gallon. There I go dreaming again.

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Old 05-06-2002, 09:08 AM
Gerry Monaghan Gerry Monaghan is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Montour Falls NY
Posts: 51
The Courage To Go For It!

Yes, I am focusing on this business exclusively for my work. I am gearing my initial marketing towards individuals in my community & family. I see a tremendous potential revenue source in publicly funded photo archive preservation & restoration. In my area, the local historical society has a mountain of important photos that are being poorly preserved. I am in the position to grow this business slowly at first since there is so much to learn and to consider regarding all the aspects of a well run photo restoration service.

I am so interested in sharing and developing production strategies with all of you who have experience in film output and lab services. I think Giclee prints have great potential. And of course, I think this new Epson 2200 is going to be great.

RetouchPRO is certainly a fantastic resource. Thank You Doug for your tireless work. I hope you make millions of dollars doing this.

I kind of see a pie chart where photo restoration is a third, and my fine art print sales is a third, and a small framing studio all interact and thrive. I have worked in framing but it has been a long time. The hardest part for me is believing in my vision in the fine art realm. In the end, it is all the same. I have been developing a set of Botanicals two of which have apeared in the Members Gallery. More ways to make money than there is time to make it.


Last edited by Gerry Monaghan; 05-06-2002 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 04-08-2004, 05:25 PM
Chip Hildreth's Avatar
Chip Hildreth Chip Hildreth is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Hillsborough, NC
Posts: 131
For me, retouch and Restoration are a component...

My wife/girlfreind/partner and I have a small creative services business. She is graphic designer and I am a commercial photographer. Together we we offer a variety of graphic arts services including restoration and retouching. Our shop is in a small town historic district so we have a fair number of antique photos come in for copy and restoration. There is a pretty eclectic community of artists and authors here and we get some interesting ad work which usually involves photography, retouching and sometimes rather extreme manipulation. Some months we log $75.00 for a quick scan, clean and print and that's it; other months I sit here working on images non-stop and the invoices add up to $2000 or $3000.
The fact is, we can't make a living on JUST retouch/restoration but it is a significant component of our business. I didn't actually vote on this survey because my answer is, "Yep, sort of, but we have to do other related stuff too".
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Old 05-19-2004, 01:51 PM
CourtneyConk.Co's Avatar
CourtneyConk.Co CourtneyConk.Co is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 31

Funny this thread pops up today. I just today put in my notice at the photo lab I work to pursue my own interests. Im lucky enough that I have made enough contacts in the last 5 years that I hope I can make a go of this. I am glad I offered exceptional customer service, and most of my clients were very happy with me, and know me by name.

If not, at least I can plan on working temp work until I get enough business that I can work at home.

The lack of health care, and the amount of taxes I will have to deduct from my profits is scarey, but Ive been itching to do this for over a year now. And I hope the time is ripe enough.

Im just lucky I can photograph, retouch, restore and even throw in graphic design and web design... So Im hoping something will pay off.

Wish me luck.

THE SCAREY THING!!!! And this is important. One of the MAIN reasons I am leaving. Kodak has come out with facial recognition software and has incorporated into an AUTOMATED facial retouching program. ITS IS CRAP!!! And my employer has bought it hook line and sinker. I have seen it, offered advice, and no one ever listened to me. So today as they bring in some mega computer that can barely run the program, I put in my notice. BEWARE PEOPLE!!! BEWARE!!!!!
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Old 05-26-2004, 02:38 AM
GeoM GeoM is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3
That's my job!

My boss takes pictures, and I restore them to a saleable product.
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Old 07-20-2004, 12:21 AM
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wtimmer wtimmer is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Portage, IN
Posts: 10
Work at home

I too work from home part-time retouching but I work full time in the field of photography, right now I work for 3 or 4 photographers commercial and portrait doing image enhancement and retouching. I can honestly sat that this year 20% of my total income will be from part timing it. I believe that I would easily be able to change to full time (and have considered it seriously) but honestly.... growing up in a family that owned its own business, It makes me balk at the idea of doing that to myself. It means even longer hours, late nights and more headaches. Do I think I could love doing it full time? yes. Do I want to take that responsibility on at this time in my life? not particularly. In the future? who knows.

Oh and I almost hate to say this.... but the software that was spoke of in the thread, the one that auto-retouches images? Well I know that software pretty well as I am one of the people that assisted Kodak in the beta test. Do I honestly think that KPARS (Kodak's Professional Auto Retouching Software) will take all of the jobs from the retouchers out there? I really doubt it.... As was mentioned in a previous post, the software is not perfect by a long shot. Its main intention was to do mass amounts of images at a time (and I mean hundreds upon thousands) you really don't have the control over the images that you would doing them one by one but when your faced with retouching 1000 kids from the ages of 5-15 it can be helpful in softening lines, removing light blemishes and really thats about it. It has problems with doing multiple heads and heads that you can't make out all of the features i.e. one eye covered by hair etc. So yes the rumor is true, is it as bad as it could be made out to be? Personally, I don't think so..... after all a machine cannot produce art.... it is a tool, the artist produces true artwork. People used to complain about us "digital" retouchers, that we weren't true artists... it wasn't until they understood the tool (and some still don't) that they could see the value of it.

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Old 07-20-2004, 08:05 AM
rondon rondon is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: north central florida
Posts: 470
for shame

I think you've missed the harm caused by automation.. it's the perception that restoration and retouching can be done quick and easily by machine.
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Old 07-20-2004, 08:48 AM
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wtimmer wtimmer is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Portage, IN
Posts: 10
for shame??

Well i'm sorry I didn't bring that across the right way (I guess) I didn't mean to "endorse" auto-retouching software in any way. The only thing I was trying to say was that automation is here and places that do a high volume of retouching (i.e. a school lab) will jump all over this software. No I don't endorse it.... its just a fact. I never said that automation could replace an artist, NOT EVEN CLOSE.... No I don't see this software pulling off headswitches, artwork, restorations.

And when I saw the post I figured I would put my two cents in (for what its worth) since I have worked with the software first hand. And being one of the team of decision makers for my place of employment, I know that the software cannot replace ANY of my artists..... not even one. Nor do I want it to, I am a retoucher/artist myself and would hate to see even one person lose their job because some software package does it better (and thats a funny thought in itself..... just think, an algorithm that reads the contours of the face actually doing a better job than the human eye? Again, its not happening.... at least not today) than they do (and again that is a looong way off) but the value that I do see in it? It will bring in more business that I didn't have before, allow me to do jobs that I wasn't able to do before (for the simple fact that I didn't have the manpower) and provide a service to my customers (again we are talking about grade school kids.... by the thousands.... I don't have the manpower or the funds to take that work on right now, but I DO have customers that want us to do the work.)

Believe me I have had to re-assure several of our retouchers about this, I don't enjoy using the software in question....... but I will tell you that I am not ashamed of what I have posted, it was meant to be informative...... to possibly reassure the artists out there that in my opinion (again for what its worth) will not just be thrown to the wayside.

Its just another tool, thats all nothing more.
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Old 07-21-2004, 02:48 AM
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redmaccat redmaccat is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Colorado
Posts: 7

We not only have technology, but offshoring to worry about as well.
My understanding is that some of our local camera stores and photo labs will take your print, scan it in the store and ship the file to S. America and are able to charge a flat fee of $50. If I understand correctly, the restored images are given back on a floppy - not sure how good of a quality that would be given the limited file size the floppy takes.

I would really love to do this full-time, but I'm kind of a shy person and not very good at marketing myself. Also, it would be a big leap of risk as I have worked for a fairly large corporation (non-photo related) most of my working career and have not had to worry about liability and actually running a business. I've always had a steady income, so that part frightens me a bit. I am seriously considering doing restorations on a part time basis and also have a steady income from another part time job...kind of easing into it I suppose. Right now it all hinges on how fed up I get with my current employer and all the politics that go with a corporation.
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