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  • Business Options

    Some folks are lucky enough to live in areas where the population is large and has a reasonable amount of disposable income and dont mind disposing of some it for restore/retouch work.
    Others dont have that luxury and find that getting enough business just to stay in business is a challenge in and of itself.
    Thus, diversification becomes more than an interesting topic of becomes a necessary part of the business model.
    What areas do you think, or would suggest, aspiring retouchers/restorers look into in order to keep a cash flow going which would permit living in something other than a cast off refrigerator box in a side alley and becoming a real " Starving Artist" ?...Tom

  • #2
    That is a very good question.

    One thing I would suggest is archiving and push to save them to CD.

    I've been pushing that here in Houston where we've had floods last year and have been getting some business from "just in case" scenarios as it is. Archiving costs little in overhead so you charge what the market can bear. In fact, I usually archive an additional copy of the CD so they can put it in a safe place <bank, distant relative, bomb shelter>.
    The one thing people have ALWAYS cried about are the photos that were lost in floods/hurricanes/tornados.

    They like the little "added" bonus that you give them. it costs little out of pocket and you're able to give them something most people need in these times. Piece of Mind when the unthinkable happens.

    actually, a nice bit would be to be a storage facility yourself. *I* can't do that, but who knows, someone else might?

    You might have to get rather anal when it comes to book and record keeping, though.

    Last edited by Rick; 07-09-2002, 09:23 PM.


    • #3
      Hi Thomas from small town central texas.

      Well as we've discussed before I think our areas are very similar. I've been tapping into the scrap booking groups of ladies around here stressing not to use the original pictures but get copies made so that has generated a little business there...also I've been contacting people who publish upcoming family reunions in the local little paper about getting copies made for family members of old pictures. Also, the local older ladies have a women's agricultural group that meets once a month and I've made a presentation to them along with samples of everything from colorization to manipulation to restoration and reproduction. That was a big hit as these ladies have tons of old pictures. Not sure what your local paper is like but for about 6 weeks I ran an ad in the local paper with a before and after of each area of digital, restoration one week, manipulation the next week and advertised that and that brought in quite a bit of business...once all this was put together it was just a matter of word of mouth and the work has been coming in pretty steady. These are just a few ideas also I had done a presentation at the local library answering questions as well as providing samples of the digital imaging work which the presentation was advertised 2 weeks prior in the local paper. Had a pretty good turnout, approx. 30 people which is a lot for this area. It's really just doing anything you can to get the word out and of course I can't really charge the big bucks like they do in the cities or these people would never be able to afford it...but I'm shooting for the "get a bunch of work at a little lesser price" philosophy rather than little work at a large price.


      • #4
        I must say that I feel I take it for granted that my business is centrally located in a big city. It sure does help with the cash flow.

        Here are a few sugestions:

        1) Advertise to professional photographers through mail outs and through the internet. Find the addresses of professional studios online to build a databese of addresses. Also, buy banner space from photographic organizations. Texas has a few large photographic organizations. Try Their banner space goes for $35 per month, and they have rough ly 200 members. We are doing both of these things world wide in an effort to find photographers that are shooting digitally and that can send their images to us through the internet.

        The are a couple of good things about having a professional portrait studio as a client. If they like the quality, turnaround, and price of your work then they are likely to send repeat business and secondly that repeat business will be predictable. Meaning that it will be shot in the same studio, under the same lights, and they will want the same type of retouching. And before long it should become rutine.

        2) Rick is right. Archive your images. We have archived every image that we have ever retouched to CD. When our clients want us to retrieve one of those imaes, it's a $9.95 charge, but we archive them for free. We have found that we have really created a small gold mine for ourselves.

        You see, with the introduction of digital retouching, the photographic retoucher was given a new product to sell. Reorders!

        But yes, you do have to catalog all of your images with a title. Here is how we do it. We use an app called CD finder. Very cheap to buy on the internet. I think $20. The second step is to title all of your files in a way so you can find them.

        For example:

        CA 34527 Jones A12

        CA = Studio Prefix (Carol Andrews)
        34527 = Studio Assigned session number (not all studios do this)
        Jones = the studios subjects last name
        A12 = Roll 1 frame 12

        This way we can look up our files by studio, or by session number, or by last name, and we can diferentiate between different neg numbers.


        • #5

          I have a question for you. It seems as though when you do a restoration, the client winds up with an image suitable for framing. Is that all they get? You mentioned that there is a $9.95 charge for accessing the image on the CD. That leads me to believe that the client does not get the image on a CD or other recordable media. Is that correct? Otherwise, why would they come back for you to access the image from archives?



          • #6
            When I first started doing retouching, I started in photo restoration. But now I am 98% photo retouching, and 100% of that is for professional photographers. I am a business to business operation.

            Each time I finish an order for a client they either get a final print. If the studio's client places a reorder, the studio comes through me to get another print, instead of how they used to do it before digital which was to locate the neg, card the neg, package the neg, and send out the neg. Now the studio just sends me an email and I look up the file on CD and hit print. I then charge them for an archive reteival and for a new print.

            The studio can also receive a digital file at the time of order completion at no charge via email or we can send it to them via FTP.

            Some of our clients want us to burn a CD of their completed work. In that case we have an extra hard drive that we collect their finished work on, and when the files go just over 600 megs of information we burn them a CD. We charge $50 per cd.


            • #7

              I checked out your website. Your work is incredible and fascinating.



              • #8
                I think a point I am forgetting to say is this. Even when one of our clients opts to recive the intial digital file of the completed work, or a CD of lots of completed orders, they still come back to me for the reorder. They come back to me because they are not a retoucher. They are photographers. They do not have time to locate, layout, and send their files out to a printer. That is not where they make their money. Studios make their money shooting more clients.

                So I can see why you would ask why do they come back to me for the files. And I guess my answer is convienince, turnaround time, consistancy, and reliability. they know that I have a system that works. In essance, I have become part of the studios production line.


                • #9
                  Thank you very much Sharon! Try not to make my head to big though.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the clarification Aric. That sounds lke a win/win situation for you and your clients.



                    • #11
                      I just remembered an attempt I made to start a digital imaging business.

                      About 1996 I moved back to Houston from Phoenix. When I got here I started to apply for digital retouching positions at different studios, but while I was doing that I had a crazy idea. Swimming Pools.

                      My grand mother had a pool and my mother didn't, but she had a yard big enough for one. So I photographed my grandmothers pool from many different angles and distances. I did the same to my mother's back yard.

                      you can guess the rest. I dropped the pool into her yard using Photoshop, and it didn't look half bad!

                      I then brought the prints I had made to different pool building companies and showed them what I had done. I asked them "would it be worth a $250 investment to help sell a $15,000.00 pool?" I waqs soon driving all over the city shooting pools that comapny had already installed. But just when I was getting started I got a job offer from Gittings Portraiture and I took the job.


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