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  • Are my rates too cheap?

    Most of my clients live in England and that is the market I'm targeting. I currently do creative retouching for photographers part-time (but recently have had some commercial requests).

    A photographer friend advised me to charge around £12 per image for fashion and beauty. So this is approximately what I'm charging, but I spend an absolute minimum of an hour on a fashion image (usually average an hour and a half) and up to 2 and a half hours on a beauty image, but I don't think this is enough for my time or for my level of expertise. Here's a preview of an image in my portfolio from last year - looking at it now I can see areas for improvement, but nevertheless it should give you an idea of the level I'm at.

    Can anyone give me an idea of the actual market rate that I should be charging? It would be much appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Are my rates too cheap?

    Market rate? Depends on your market... Professional retoucher working for big company take $1000-$2000 per image.
    Retouching companies charge around $500/hour

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    • #3
      Re: Are my rates too cheap?

      Originally posted by Tulack View Post
      Market rate? Depends on your market... Professional retoucher working for big company take $1000-$2000 per image.
      Retouching companies charge around $500/hour
      Freelance creative retouching for photographers part-time, as I said.

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      • #4
        Re: Are my rates too cheap?

        Originally posted by sm00 View Post
        Freelance creative retouching for photographers part-time, as I said.
        It's not your choice. "Demand creates its own supply"

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        • #5
          Re: Are my rates too cheap?

          It can be really low or really high, depending on how good you actually are, what your market is etc.
          It doesn't matter if the photographer is from England or from Mars, if he shoots stock photography he will pay less then someone that's shooting for a major client.

          If you are getting fully booked, it's time to charge more.

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          • #6
            Re: Are my rates too cheap?

            Your location say London. This is not a viable business model in London. If your work is just sufficiently good, you would be much better off working for a shop at a junior level.

            It's important to have a good idea of where your speed and quality are at today. These vary exponentially between individuals. For example my judgement is reasonably good, but I'm not that fast. When I was doing this on a daily basis, I was definitely faster. Both are important though.

            You also need to consider your clientele. Someone will only pay you a certain amount per image or per hour on a long term basis if you generate sufficient value and you're good at client management aspects of the job.

            I also hope you come to realize that statements like this

            Originally posted by sm00 View Post
            Freelance creative retouching for photographers part-time, as I said.
            are completely meaningless. It matters what they will actually budget for the work, assuming you aren't going to track down a set of new clients at an updated rate schedule.

            I don't think you have a viable long term business model if you can't acquire jobs that budget a bare minimum of £100 per page and preferably more like 150. You would of course need to be able to get those jobs, but I don't see how you can live in London at lower rates after budgeting for the necessary equipment (displays, colorimeter, Mac, printer, RIP, etc).

            In the US you also have to deal with a slightly higher tax burden, because you have to cover both portions of payroll tax (employer and employee portion). Many freelancers also consult a cpa on tax matters, so it does add up. If you're charging something beneath a typical skilled wage and incurring the extra overhead, you don't have a viable business model.

            Depending on your state may also have to register with a specific board to collect sales tax on applicable invoice items. I would imagine London has its own set of headaches.

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            • #7
              Re: Are my rates too cheap?

              You have to be looking at least £25 per hour to make this worthwhile even as part time beer money. For a living you'd want at least £50 and upward. I can't judge your work because you may have been working to your own brief which is a different ball game to receiving a set of instructions that has to fulfil a specific brief. Avoid agreeing to set unit prices: therein lies penury!

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              • #8
                Re: Are my rates too cheap?

                All useful points to consider, thanks.

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                • #9
                  Re: Are my rates too cheap?

                  Originally posted by skoobey View Post
                  It can be really low or really high, depending on how good you actually are, what your market is etc.
                  It doesn't matter if the photographer is from England or from Mars, if he shoots stock photography he will pay less then someone that's shooting for a major client.

                  If you are getting fully booked, it's time to charge more.
                  The problem is that if I ever quote over £15 for an image, I never hear back. That suggests my work is horrible but it's actually not, I have done covers and editorials and stuff, and usually I'm very self-critical but it's at least as good as many other retouchers with good portfolios who I see getting paid work. Not sure where I'm going wrong.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Are my rates too cheap?

                    Originally posted by Tulack View Post
                    It's not your choice. "Demand creates its own supply"
                    It is my choice. Thanks.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Are my rates too cheap?

                      Originally posted by sm00 View Post
                      It is my choice. Thanks.
                      If it's your choice, why are you asking us? Choose whatever you want.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Are my rates too cheap?

                        You're in danger of earning less than minimum wage for your efforts sm00. Personally, I wouldn't want to hear back from someone who considers £15 a lot of money - about 2 hours work at a supermarket till. There is far more non fashion/beauty work around that pays better than that so it may pay to develop that side first!

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                        • #13
                          Re: Are my rates too cheap?

                          Originally posted by Repairman View Post
                          You're in danger of earning less than minimum wage for your efforts sm00. Personally, I wouldn't want to hear back from someone who considers £15 a lot of money - about 2 hours work at a supermarket till. There is far more non fashion/beauty work around that pays better than that so it may pay to develop that side first!
                          Pretty much spot on as a supermarket cashier typically earns around £7.50 hour in the UK.

                          The National Minimum Wage is I believe £6.70 per hour.

                          So I think that if your work is acceptable standards you are undervaluing yourself regardless of amateur or pro status.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Are my rates too cheap?

                            Originally posted by Tony W View Post
                            Pretty much spot on as a supermarket cashier typically earns around £7.50 hour in the UK.

                            The National Minimum Wage is I believe £6.70 per hour.

                            So I think that if your work is acceptable standards you are undervaluing yourself regardless of amateur or pro status.
                            It's much worse after you budget for equipment and add in the accounting costs of self employment. I know it's different there, but it can't be identical. Here my insurance costs were significantly higher, and I had an extra (approximately) 7.5% on the first (approximately) $105k gross. This is equivalent to the employer portion of payroll tax in the US, although the limit is higher now. The accounting is also annoying, and a decent cpa runs ≥$100/hr here (assuming you just need them a few times a year).

                            Originally posted by sm00 View Post
                            The problem is that if I ever quote over £15 for an image, I never hear back. That suggests my work is horrible but it's actually not, I have done covers and editorials and stuff, and usually I'm very self-critical but it's at least as good as many other retouchers with good portfolios who I see getting paid work. Not sure where I'm going wrong.
                            There are multiple concerns wrapped up here. First if you don't hear back specifically because you priced yourself out of the market for that client, then that isn't really a potential client. As I mentioned £15 isn't a feasible business model after amortizing your costs of doing business, and existing clients are likely to accept an 800% increase. You won't have sufficient cash flow to cover bad months/years if you treat that as a business model. In your situation it would probably be beneficial to work for a bigger shop that handles retouching for a list of clients. This would afford you a stable income and exposure to jobs that are better than those you could bring in on your own.

                            As for the results of others comparable to yourself, you misinterpreted them. Those guys have some rapport with their clients. If your work is about on par with theirs and a client already knows and works well with them, they are a better fit.

                            You don't always know what the images looked like before retouching. There may have been some ridiculous removal of background objects or a swap of someone in a group in some of these shots. Those things aren't always obvious later on compared to something like beauty retouching. In my experience (which is a couple years out of date at this point, I do nerd stuff now) it's a lot easier to get clients by referral or bring on a client who started as a client of a photographer you work with if they liked your work on a particular job.

                            Lastly on the point of being self critical, you need another pair of eyes. You should also focus on where you can improve rather than whether it's good enough. Good enough is usually helpful when it comes to retaining work, but I don't think it helps acquire new work when the amount available is finite. This is kind of the nature of service based work compared to something production based where you may have more elasticity in demand.

                            Originally posted by Repairman View Post
                            You're in danger of earning less than minimum wage for your efforts sm00. Personally, I wouldn't want to hear back from someone who considers £15 a lot of money - about 2 hours work at a supermarket till. There is far more non fashion/beauty work around that pays better than that so it may pay to develop that side first!
                            I suspect London has some work in other types of retouching where the pool of competitors is smaller.
                            Last edited by klev; 11-24-2015, 04:15 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Are my rates too cheap?

                              For every retoucher making bucks on glossy magazine covers there are a hundred more doing model cards and photographer samples for pennies. IMO you make more money out of putting right what someone else got wrong than you do making good stuff look great and there is plenty of the former out there to fix. Often it's a lack of commercial nous rather than ability that holds retouchers back.

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