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  • Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital)

    Hello RP world!

    I just joined today and am in need of advice from anyone willing to give their 2 cents to a newbie (and I'm looking forward to becoming a regular patron). I mostly do freelance web and graphic design, though doing photo retouching is probably my more preferred type of work because I just love cleaning things up and looking at the before and after.

    Anyway, I hope my post here is not inappropriate to ask about and if it is, I apologize in advance. I have been given my first photo restoration project (well, I don't exactly have it yet, they want to know how much I would charge) and I was quite taken aback from how severely damaged the scanned portrait they sent me appears.

    The photo is attached and it's 11 X 14 (I already know it will have to be rescanned, it was only 72 dpi, but we have a mutual friend that can do that for them for free). At least they want a digital restoration only (that's all I know how to do). The client tried to take it to some places here in Nashville (I'm not sure what type of places, the mutual friend of the client is who I'm going through at the moment) but it was rejected because these places said they don't do anything larger than 8 x 10.

    So first I was sitting here trying to figure out how much of my time will likely be put into this so I can know what to charge. Then the more I thought about it, I decided I want to go with a flat rate so I can take my time with it because I'll likely be learning as I go on this one. I consider myself a pretty advanced and experienced PS user and have CS5. I just don't know what is too little to charge for a project like this (I've done this type of work before for free after the flood happened in Nashville last year - that was my way of volunteering to help - but even those photos weren't this damaged), and other than that I've only medium photo retouching for a country artist and charged per photo.

    They want to know an estimate ahead of time. Of course I did a google search and saw the low rates out there that I can't compete with. I know it's going to depend on the clients budget as well, I just don't want my estimate to send them running away because I really do enjoy doing this type of work and would like to do it more regularly.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and for any input you guys may have.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

    Firstly for the purpose of scanning yuo want a minimum of 300dpi scan but personally I prefer 600 dpi as then you can enlarge the photo for printing afterwards. as for prices I could not tell you as I live in the uk.

    I would class this as moderately damaged but is a great picture to work on as there is no full facial repair. If you use your normal photoshop tools you will be fine. As for pricing you want to be in the middle of the rate as charge too much you will scare clients off and charge too little and they think you gonna do a crap job. Concentrate on the rates from small businesses those corporate chains can afford to knock out at stupid prices but the little guy like us cannot. A small business is often favoured due to the personal touches you get which does not happen with a corporate chain. This photo looks scarier than it is have fun restoring this photo.

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    • #3
      Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

      Welcome here yesihave2.
      One of the things I always recommend is to start with easy projects. You'll do them right, you'll feel glad with your work and you'll learn little by little a lot of useful things which could help for the next jobs. Maybe low level retouch will not make you reach (for now) but will provide a solid flat to keep going and reach soon a better level of your retoucher skilness. This one is not an easy job to do, this picture is very damaged, spotted and dirty so it requires a lot of work experience for the workflow.
      Nothing worth than work with something which is beyond of our possibilities. Now, after 10 years of hard retouch, I still look a lot for every project I'm supposed to do and if I decide that it could not be done in the best terms I'm rejecting the offer. You know better than anyone if you'll be able or not to do it fine. I do not want to discourage you, this is not my intention.
      Some good retoucher charge $20-25 as his lower hour/rate. Low level retouch cost in the web is $5-15, mid level some $20-40 and high level could cost from $50 to $100 or more.
      Standard printing paper for the digital labs are (inch) 6x8, 6x9, 8x10 and 8x12. Some machines are printing big sizes, 12x16 and 12x18. Here where I live this is available (the 12x18) but I don't like the quality. The brand is Kiss (French) but Noritzu (Japan) have better colors. If not, look for an Epson plotter service and you'll have a great color quality and no size limits.
      I always think that retouching is an endless learning process, like a very high mountain we have to climb and climb. Every time when we reach a "station" (I think this is the name the people who is doing this call the points where they stop for a while) we can admire the beautiful landscape up there and look back, below, and count the not-so-beautiful things we left behind. Every step will bring you closer to the "top", to the perfection. Be patient and keep climbing
      Regards

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      • #4
        Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

        I would probably spend about 2 hours on that. I'd charge $100, plus GST. Could be longer, but that would most likely be due to me being picky/experimenting, not something I can charge the customer for!

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        • #5
          Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

          Well, if I'd do this it could spend more than 2 hours. It depends how deep you are ready to go. I'm painting all the image when I'm dealing with that tough project. Plugins use is so reduced here and painting needs more time. At least is the final resoult what it worth here. For 100 bucks must deliver a high end work. If you can do this in only 2 hours it's really great!
          Regards

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

            I could write a book about the art of underquoting. So often I receive scans of images via email at a low res which look like they may only take an hour or two, but once I receive them and scan them at the required resolution, I realise that restoration will take much longer. I have learnt the hard way.

            Whenever I deliver a quote (for an image that I will later scan myself) I explain that it is an estimate only and that an accurate quote cannot cannot be provided until I have examined the original.

            It is difficult to tell from your low res images but I imagine that the most time consuming part of the restoration would be repairing scratches, spots, etc. I am based in Australia and would most probably quote approx A$150-$165 for this restoration. If it takes less time than expected, the customer will not be charged as much.

            If the customer thinks I am too expensive they will go elsewhere. That is fine with me. I would rather have customers who value the quality of my work rather than just shop around for the best price.

            I often provide quotes then never hear form the prospective client again. Bad business? I don't think so. Whilst I am busy and have a continuous flow of work, I would rather not have to bargain for a good price. I don't earn enough for that! Lol.

            If you are just starting out and feel that the experience of restoring the image would be of greater value to you than the $ then of course, offer a better price.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

              I love that photograph I would give my right arm to spend around 12 hours on it, however that isn't going to keep you warm and dry. As you astutely point out your clients budget is really the only important factor here, ascertain that and your job is done, you can tailor your work accordingly. I would want around £180-£250 for the work, but would probably in reality spend a lot more time on it than the payment, as like all retouchers I'm a perfectionist. Price also depends upon who is printing the image or if it is supplied in a digital format, so price that in or out accordingly.

              Try to get added value for yourself, ask if you can feature it in a portfolio for example, ask them to recommend you. If you are happy and don't feel shafted that is the important thing, as you are not 'pro' don't get too hung up on the money. Repeat business can be a great thing too.

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              • #8
                Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

                Originally posted by Carol Heath View Post
                If the customer thinks I am too expensive they will go elsewhere. That is fine with me. I would rather have customers who value the quality of my work rather than just shop around for the best price.
                ..........If you are just starting out and feel that the experience of restoring the image would be of greater value to you than the $ then of course, offer a better price.
                Great advice IMHO. As you can see I particularly like the value and quality aspect

                If you are happy and don't feel shafted that is the important thing, as you are not 'pro' don't get too hung up on the money. Repeat business can be a great thing too.
                Again very sound advice.

                As expected Florin's insight into this very valuable - although I had thought he has been restoring since God was a lad

                I do hope the OP revisits this and lets us know how it turned out.

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                • #9
                  Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

                  I'm not so old, Tony! Just 58

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                  • #10
                    Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

                    Just reaching your prime then like me Florin . Glad you took the comment in the spirit of fun as intended - had some concern after sending it just in case it could be taken the wrong way. I was going to blame the rather nice couple of glasses of Rioja I had just had if it had been.

                    Regards
                    Tony

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                    • #11
                      Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

                      Originally posted by TPF View Post
                      I would probably spend about 2 hours on that. I'd charge $100, plus GST. Could be longer, but that would most likely be due to me being picky/experimenting, not something I can charge the customer for!
                      In these 2 hours, is a color recovery included?
                      Last edited by chillin; 01-16-2011, 09:52 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

                        I still do not beleive this could be done in 2 hours. I'm working pretty fast and estimate some 6-7h at least. Remember that charging some $150 or more oblige you to deliver a first class retouch. If not...client
                        Last edited by Florin; 01-15-2011, 07:06 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

                          "holl here do not to business"...

                          We are not bidding, just changing opinions regarding the working time and so on. This is another guy's work, dear devil.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

                            I agree, that's a wonderful old photo. Perhaps my expertise is lacking compared to some of the posters, but I know I myself would be on the project most of a day due to the extensive damage. Also, African-American skin color can be tricky to get right as it varies considerably, if it's a color image. Is it sepia, or just that discolored? As someone else stated, there's no serious damage to critical areas though, so it looks like a great project I would heartily welcome. Enjoy the work!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Estimate advice for photo restoration (digital

                              I'd charge about $50 CDN for a photo like this, and it'd probably be done in about two hours.

                              The only real questionable part about his picture that could make it more difficult is the stain over the eye-- eyes are usually the hardest part to repair, and that's why I'd estimate two hours, because I'd be spending at least 20-30 minutes trying to fix that eye properly (my weakness).

                              The rest is pretty much easy fluff.

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