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  • Time for a change?

    I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts, maybe get your opinion?

    I've been retouching for a while now, but at this point I feel like freelance rates are getting so low, it just doesn't feel like worth it to look for work at all... and I love my job. Like someone flipped a switch. I guess what I am asking is is this the freelance rate? 1$ an hour? I went from cleaning up images for 20$ to doing everything for couple of bucks. All the freelancing offers I'm getting are like a joke 10c per image path and things like that. I can't be doing terrible images for 3-4$, I just can't. It turns into less then 1$ an hour and even at that, I don't have enough work to sustain myself.

    I notice the situation is very different when working on-site and i am seriously considering moving. I'll go into driving a truck or being a flight attendant if this is where retouching has gone.

    Do you guys work freelance?
    Have rates gone down considerably, or do I suck this bad?
    Have any of you moved for work? I see that even retouchers with no experience earn more than a good salary?
    I really feel terrible when I see Indian companies that do horrific work charging 5-10$ an image and here I am about to get evicted.

  • #2
    Re: Time for a change?

    I love it how I try to answer everyone, but no one thinks it's necessary to answer me.

    Reminds of me when I donated to the site, but never became a patron. I guess I should've payed an entire week of my income, not a day.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Time for a change?

      I thought about how to answer this one. I have no idea what Europe is like. In the US, I wouldn't suggest it in California. Your major markets have inflated a great deal relative to salaries. It would make sense to move if you think you can obtain work there, meaning that shops in a particular area are actively looking for people and they pay out rates that support their cost of living.

      As I recall, your work became quite good. I don't know what the overall portfolio looks like, but I would never recommend the nonsense of freelancer sites as a business model. For what it's worth, inflation is likely to kill off the business model used by those Indian sites.

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      • #4
        Re: Time for a change?

        I really don't care what the destination is, as long is it is a civil country. I do not consider UAE to be that, but if there are no other options... too bad Canada has no retouching market what so ever.

        I think people try to live the good life. I have no intention of buying a new car, drinking coffee or dining out, and things like that... I am used to not having that. I find it hard to believe that you have to watch out for every penny like you do where I live. Sure, cost of living is higher, but the biggest difference I can spot is the rent. 3-4x of what it is here. But then the salary is much bigger? 500 compared to 3000 is a huge difference. And the tax is lower on top of that.

        I've had a response from this e-comerce company based out of Philly, but I guess my offer of 2500$/mo was more than they are planning to spend. I couldn't possibly survive on less. I'm not sure I'm good enough to get employed with Trump and everything.

        So many "Is". Argh! A terrible way to start a sentence, but it is what it is.

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        • #5
          Re: Time for a change?

          Those market options sound terrible. They don't have enough shops. You could get there and find nothing. It might not be as bad as it is there. I'm not sure. Shoku can comment on San Diego if he pops in. I'll give you LA as an example. Most of the retouching places are toward West LA with a few (not many) closer to the Hollywood area. They (or at least most of them) are not growing. If you don't have growth, it's a bad market.

          I would suggest that moving to do the same thing is useless unless you have a well thought out business plan in place.

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          • #6
            Re: Time for a change?

            I wouldn't move unless I get an offer, there is no point in just sitting around. Besides, I can't just walk into the country. Do you know what is the salary for a beginner retoucher in LA area?

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            • #7
              Re: Time for a change?

              Originally posted by skoobey View Post
              I wouldn't move unless I get an offer, there is no point in just sitting around. Besides, I can't just walk into the country. Do you know what is the salary for a beginner retoucher in LA area?
              It's not a market that I would recommend to anyone. I'm going to guess $45k or less starting out. It doesn't matter how much you think that is. You would have trouble finding a place to rent if you are coming from outside the US. Figure you would need to keep rent below $900 while having a reasonable commute to shops that are mostly based on the west side, which means multiple roommates.

              The biggest volume is likely to be among the various retail brands. That seems to pay anywhere from $35-50k/year. Again though, it's a terrible idea. NYC probably has a healthier market in spite of more people, and they actually have public transportation.

              Ultimately I would say that there are better occupations. There's no growth in that area, which is fine if you have the right niche (recall what I said about a business model and plan). Otherwise it's not very good.

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              • #8
                Re: Time for a change?

                Well how many careers does one need to be proficient at before he finds employment? I'm an architect, and a furniture designer, and a photographer, and a retoucher, and I'm learning 3d modeling. I get what you are saying(go where the money is), but when do I actually get paid?

                Obviously someone hired those people selling kitchen appliances, working in boutiques, working in restaurants? When do I become qualified for any of those?

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                • #9
                  Re: Time for a change?

                  Originally posted by skoobey View Post
                  Well how many careers does one need to be proficient at before he finds employment? I'm an architect, and a furniture designer, and a photographer, and a retoucher, and I'm learning 3d modeling. I get what you are saying(go where the money is), but when do I actually get paid?

                  Obviously someone hired those people selling kitchen appliances, working in boutiques, working in restaurants? When do I become qualified for any of those?
                  Considering the quality of your work, the rates you stated are all garbage, and they do not provide a workable business model. The act of moving may or may not change that, but it's a lot more difficult when you can't ride some amount of industry growth.

                  You can be very skilled at something without the availability of work that is accessible to you. Any kind of major change really needs to involve both sufficient skill and a viable model. This particular area doesn't have a lot of growth potential, because the number of publications has declined. That tends to make things difficult for people entering a particular market.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Time for a change?

                    I can't find work for the death of me. I've had some people reach out after me complaining in other communities, I'll see if that leads anywhere(the rates these guys offered me are still low, but paid work is paid work).

                    What i mentioned is the kind of work I had access to. I even asked one of the members here, but he said I'm not good enough to work on anything he does. I feel like crap knowing that I've started to get good at something, and I see people making a living doing the same thing, but me not being able to find my market. As I said, I was trying to offer doing a decent job for 10$ per image but to no avail.

                    I understand that the market is shifting, I'm not stuck on fashion, I have no problem retouching whatever is paid. I guess the whole idea of moving is just linked to the uncertainty of living where I do and me not feeling appreciated what so ever. And trust me, I've traveled, you can't believe the insanity of living in a communist country, unless you've lived in one. All the things people take for granted... forget about that, it's a different system. Someone said in another thread that they worked on some easy retail for 8$ an hour. That is like a fantasy to me.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Time for a change?

                      I'm not sure this conversation makes a lot of sense. My impression is that you're understandably angry about this. The problem is that the kind of work you mention (working for a few dollars an hour) is very much of a temporary solution. I'm not there, and I can't advise you on that. I'm saying over the long term, that isn't a viable business model. Just talking about branching out from fashion to something else isn't meaningful.

                      Your long term concern should be on whether you have a viable business plan going forward. $8 an hour isn't part of a viable business model, because it means that your margins will be low and their margins will be low. That kind of nonsense isn't even close to a reliable source of income.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Time for a change?

                        And this is exactly why I feel like moving. I can't wait for random cheap clients to appear. Viable long term or not, I need steady income now.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Time for a change?

                          San Diego is another area that is not growing. There are shops that hire by season (Upper Deck), and a few very good independent retouchers who work with Photographers on an as-needed basis.

                          We had 12 retouchers in-house back in 2004 (not 2007 - checked my stats) and now have 3.

                          Like a photographer, independent retouchers need to promote the benefits they bring to the media. You need to determine your basic rate, back it up with quality samples showing before and after images, and then market your stuff to firms that require your ability. So before you do anything you need to research possible employers and find out what they need. That may be a time consuming process but it will be worth it in the end. And never say, I can't do that. Any good retoucher can figure out how to fix a car or a silk gown, you just need to dive in and do it. Which is why you might want to expand your portfolio to include subject matter you may not have worked on in the past. The more diversified you are the more offers you may get.
                          Last edited by Shoku; 04-10-2017, 06:42 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Time for a change?

                            Originally posted by skoobey View Post
                            And this is exactly why I feel like moving. I can't wait for random cheap clients to appear. Viable long term or not, I need steady income now.
                            Yeah I get that. I would probably suggest considering other areas as well, because as I mentioned, there isn't a lot of industry growth in this work. In your situation, my concern would be the state of the local economy. I offered one example of this. As I recall, you're in an EU country. Wouldn't it be easiest to go to another country within the EU?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Time for a change?

                              No, I am not in a EU country. If I were, I'd go get a job at a local H&M or McDonalds, get my 1500 salary and forget about studying and working this hard. Or I would be a retoucher... Do you know of any communist EU countries? lol People that are lucky enough to live in normal country just can't understand the "there is no job that will cover minimum cost of living". Average job = 250. Absolute minimum cost of living = 500 (no car, McDonalds, buying clothes and other conveniences). People get by because 2-3 generations live together, but living alone is a real commodity where I come from.

                              I get what you are saying that this isn't the field with a big growth, if any, but it never was a mass market job. I just want to get paid as much as a regular Joe if I can't be paid as much as someone that is American or EU, or Australian or Canadian, or Chineese, or Korean, or Japaneese, or New Zeelander, or Turkish, or Russian etc.

                              Relocating is mandatory. I am left with no options. It's not that I hate my country, there are bad and good people everywhere. I'm more interested if I can be hired at all in the developed world? I could prequalify yet again and become a truck driver or a flight attendant or something if working as a retoucher I can't make minimum wage.
                              Last edited by skoobey; 04-10-2017, 01:40 PM.

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