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  • Rates for portfolio work?

    Hi,

    I had an inquiry from a photographer asking me for my rates for non-commercial/portfolio work. I'm not sure what to respond. My portfolio is already pretty decent. On the other hand: there's always room for improvement, and I wouldn't mind the odd attractive job that may boost my retouching portfolio further.

    My standard rates are already pretty competitive, and not as high as they used to be a few years ago. (Recession hitting everyone's budget).

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but... Regardless of how good a project (and the resulting before & after in my portfolio): working for free should not be an option I think. Clients just don't take you serious. And one never knows if "portfolio work" becomes commercial at a later stage...

    What should I answer to the photographer?
    "Depends on the job & how buzy I am at the time" (so I can judge for myself if any given project is attractive for my portfolio)
    Or should I charge, say, 25% less than I would for commercial work?

  • #2
    Re: Rates for portfolio work?

    You know, photographers do a lot of free work for themselves, so, try to get into that mindset before responding back. During down times, they should be tackling projects that (a) build their book, and (b) hone their skills and develop ideas. I'm not telling you to do work for free, but, it's all about networking in today's world, so, a few hours spent doing free to cheap retouching may pay off well in the future. Of course, if your schedule is full, and you're making your top rate at the kind of work that really engages all of your skills, well, no, don't do it. But, if not, consider it an investment in your future.

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    • #3
      Re: Rates for portfolio work?

      Thanks for your thoughts on this. Yes, I know photographers do free work for themselves - and I'm not at all annoyed about that photographer's request. I fully understand.

      Turning the question the other way round: How much do you think a photographer would be happy to spend on a retoucher for portfolio work?

      Should I say US$20 per hour (which I believe is ridiculously cheap for decent creative retouching), and if it's a REALLY stunning project which will push my own portfolio to new heights, consider working for free?
      And also: Should I stipulate that "for free" means I am allowed to display the BEFORE as well as the after on my website? (Obviously nicely worded... "symbiotic relationship", "benefit from each other's skill sets",... you know what I mean

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      • #4
        Re: Rates for portfolio work?

        Even established, in-demand photographers do free projects for themselves to build their portfolio and keep a fresh, innovative look so the clients keep coming. Joel Grimes is a great example. With that being said, whatever you decide to do is a business decision based on your current workload and financial situation. The bigger the names you do work for, the more in demand you can be and the more you can charge. There are plenty of hacks in every industry, especially the arts that will work for free. With Creative Cloud going to monthly payments to access all of the software, it will open up the door to more people than ever before to start retouching, therefore increasing competition and further driving down prices.

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        • #5
          Re: Rates for portfolio work?

          Not sure if I agree with the Creative Cloud thing you said:

          1) Pro retouchers (=my/our competition) would usually have full versions anyway.
          2) Photoshop is probably one of the most frequently illegally copied softwares

          Besides that – having access to Photoshop alone doesn't make someone a good retoucher. Same as a big camera doesn't make a good photographer. So, basically: increased competition? Yes, but not right now, maybe in a few years...

          As for the Adobe Cloud thing: 99% of my retouching (creative & beauty) can be done in Photoshop CS2 or even earlier. Last year I bought CS6 suite – good for another few years to come
          Last edited by Ikiri; 03-26-2013, 10:37 AM.

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          • #6
            Re: Rates for portfolio work?

            Originally posted by Ikiri View Post
            Not sure if I agree with the Creative Cloud thing you said:

            1) Pro retouchers (=my/our competition) would usually have full versions anyway.
            2) Photoshop is probably one of the most frequently illegally copied softwares

            Besides that – having access to Photoshop alone doesn't make someone a good retoucher. Same as a big camera doesn't make a good photographer. So, basically: increased competition? Yes, but not right now, maybe in a few years...

            As for the Adobe Cloud thing: 99% of my retouching (creative & beauty) can be done in Photoshop CS2 or even earlier. Last year I bought CS6 suite – good for another few years to come
            I can certainly see your point and can see how my statements can be deemed incorrect when looked at it from another view. Illegal copies are certainly a problem but wonder just what percentage of self proclaimed retouchers are using pirated software.

            I think that my point is that those that may not have been able to pony up the money for legitimate copies of the software that they needed now find it more affordable under the creative cloud because monthly payments are initially easier to deal with then parting with potentially thousands of dollars that someone may not have, therefore putting the software into the hands (legally) to a broader audience.

            There will always be competition whether you think they count or not, (quality v quantity) however, supply and demand drives the market and can create a loss of market share.

            For those that are established with solid relationships, there should be no worries until the day your customer finds someone else who does just as good a job for significantly less. I believe that people will stick with a slightly higher price to maintain quality control but like everything, there are limits.

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            • #7
              Re: Rates for portfolio work?

              I try to spend around 2 weeks out of the year doing portfolio work, even if it is for free

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              • #8
                Re: Rates for portfolio work?

                I really can't see this Creative Cloud lease thing opening up Photoshop to new users much at all. Seems damn expensive to me. One shot at Photoshop can be good for three to five years, so do the math. Photoshop=$699. 60 months of Creative Cloud (single app) @$19.99 = $1200. 60 months of creative cloud = $3000.
                I'm worried that Adobe is just preparing us for this lease situation as the only option soon. Hey, that's what happens when you allow a monopoly.

                I am not impressed at all with PS6. Kind of wish I had 5 back, but, wasn't my decision or buy.

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                • #9
                  Re: Rates for portfolio work?

                  In almost all instances when I did a photographer a favor and did some freebie work, there was always paying work to follow. I treated the freebie just the same as if I was being paid, and they liked the results. I think a per image rate is a bit more palatable than an hourly rate, however, for future paid work.
                  Maybe you should ask to see some low res images first before committing to work on it, it only makes sense to do something free/lowered rate if it's on your level or can benefit you somehow.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Rates for portfolio work?

                    Originally posted by Benny Profane View Post
                    I really can't see this Creative Cloud lease thing opening up Photoshop to new users much at all. Seems damn expensive to me. One shot at Photoshop can be good for three to five years, so do the math. Photoshop=$699. 60 months of Creative Cloud (single app) @$19.99 = $1200. 60 months of creative cloud = $3000.
                    I'm worried that Adobe is just preparing us for this lease situation as the only option soon. Hey, that's what happens when you allow a monopoly.

                    I am not impressed at all with PS6. Kind of wish I had 5 back, but, wasn't my decision or buy.
                    All software will move in this direction for one simple reason: they can finally control it and clamp down on piracy. I predicted this move about 5 years ago.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Rates for portfolio work?

                      I did free work when I was starting, but be discerning. Not all free work is worth it. Vet who is asking you. 90% aren't worth it. I work in film and stills. The issue I had with free short films: very few directors were willing to spend a few grand submitting their work into a lot of festivals which equaled my work not getting seen. Bad deal for me.

                      As far as price goes, I don't compete on price anymore. Yeah, you have a smaller client base, but it winds up being the clients everyone *wishes they had*.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Rates for portfolio work?

                        Originally posted by cardmaverick View Post
                        All software will move in this direction for one simple reason: they can finally control it and clamp down on piracy. I predicted this move about 5 years ago.
                        It's not just for that reason. It's more basic than that, it's what Benny pointed out - they can charge a lot more via monthly payments than then can selling the software for one lump sum.

                        I used to be a NAPP member and before I left, Adobe announced this rental software idea. I posted a cost comparison for buy vs. rent over time, and 'buy' was the better financial option for the customer, hands-down, from a total cost of ownership basis.

                        Clamping down on piracy is the gravy, not the meat. Hackers will figure out how to pirate rental software, too, it's just a matter of time. But those monthly payments, that's the sizzle with the steaks for companies that do it.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Rates for portfolio work?

                          I will admit that I never paid for Photoshop until 5. I was always amazed at how easy it was to "borrow" a copy before that. No more.

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