No Photoshop Work for Free

Your client comes to you with a Photoshop request — or maybe a long list of them. They go far beyond what you normally do in your retouching process when you send their products off to print. How do you tell them that you will have to charge an additional fee without sounding like a jerk?

(PS – We are going to assume that if your photo is blue like the one above, you’re going to work on getting better colors in camera before you even take the photo, and that you’ll fix that for free before you show your client the proofs. M’kay?)

Setting the Your Prices & Your Scope

First of all, back when you set your prices for your products, you should have taken in to consideration the time involved in creating your products as part of the price. (Haven’t done this? Get your hands on Jamie of The Modern Tog’s Pricing Guide Workbook or Joy Vertz’s videos & course on pricing!)

In that process, you have to define your scope of what retouching you will do. For example, my printing includes minor skin smoothing – blemishes, cellulite – and retouching of indentation caused by wardrobe. Sometimes I have a client do a pose that looks amazing, but it causes a minor wardrobe glitch so I’ll retouch those. For wedding photography, I would remove those annoying white strings that are on dresses to help hang them on hangers, and “arm cleavage” from strapless dresses.

I will not do complete body reshaping. Women are beautiful as they are to me, and I won’t make them something that they are not. However, maybe that is your thing? So you make sure your pricing includes time for an hour of editing per photograph. Whatever you want to do? Make sure you have defined what your normal is for your work.

Setting Client Expectations

I’ll admit that I cringe whenever I hear someone say, “Well, you can fix that in Photoshop!” It isn’t always a quick and easy fix, and I’ll be the first to confess that extensive retouching is not my thing. Not at all.

It still happens though, and I respect the fact that my clients want these photos to be amazing to them because they will be looking at them a lot longer than I will. However, I’ll have to pay my photo editor more for the work because it is outside of our agreed scope as well.

I don’t want to tell them no, but I am going to have to tell them that there will be an additional charge.

Set expectations in advance. I have conversations with my clients before their session about the level of editing that I do. It is represented by the photographs on my website. I cover it again at the end of their session, going over what’s next (we only cull & color correct before their In Person Sales Session). At the In Person Sales meeting, if there is a blemish or something else my client is concerned about, I reassure them that we will take care of it.

Ideally, the additional Photoshop requests will come up in person, but I’ve found that most of the time they don’t come up until they proof their album. While it is a rare situation for me, I have received emails before with 17 different requests of things to do, including complete body reshaping. You know, it happens. Most of my clients aren’t photographers. They don’t know what is easy, and what isn’t. I get the reason for their requests.

How to Handle the Additional Work & Fees

First and foremost, I consider their request. I’ll talk with my photo editor and get an idea from her how long it will take. If it is something she says she can do in 10 minutes? They just spent thousands of dollars with me, I’m not going to ask them to pay for an extra 10 minutes of work.

Sometimes, what they want will take hours. Or it has to be done on 30 images. Whatever the case may be, sometimes? I have to ask them to pay more. Here is the core of what I send to them in response – feel free to save a copy of this in case you ever need it in the future!

My retouching of photos includes (list out here – mine is skin smoothing, and minor liquifying if wardrobe causes skin indents). I am happy to do this additional work as per your request. Retouching like this is more extensive, and there is an additional charge of $75/hour for the editing. This will also delay the delivery of your product by (amount of time).

I estimate it will take (however many hours); this is just an estimate and it may take longer. Please let me know if you would like me to proceed with list of edits that you sent and that you agree to the additional cost.

I sandwich that with pleasantries about how it is great to hear from them. I over estimate on the time, just in case. After all, if I tell them 3 hours and it takes 2? Awesome! If I tell them 2 hours and it takes 5? They probably won’t be so happy about that.

Once you send the email off, wait to hear back from them. They might decide that the edits aren’t worth it to them, or they may change the list.

(If you hate composing emails in tough situations with clients, Jamie of The Moderntog can help you out with that as well with her her Go To Guide for Client Emails.)

I Suck at Photoshop and Can’t Do the Edits They Requested

Aww… I fell your pain! Photoshop? Not my thing. You have a few options here:

  • Learn more about how to retouch. Take a class, get out there & practice. Many learning options are available, including an awesome one from my friend Nino Batista! All the details are at the end of this post.
  • Outsource it. For me? This was the best option. I don’t want to learn more about how to do it because it cuts in to my personal time, which is pretty valuable to me.
  • Tell your client you don’t offer retouching like that. It is ok to say no – but be nice about it!

What Do You Do?

Have you had this request come up before? How did you handle it? Did it work well for you, or do you wish you had done it differently?

PS – In perfect timing, my friend Nino Batista has kicked off Private Retouch Training! I’ve heard nothing but amazing things from friends that have attended his Masterclass workshop around the country, and it is an amazing deal! He is now scheduling for Summer/Fall 2014. Private, live, one on one retouching training in Photoshop via Google+ or Skype, approximately 2 hours of one on one time dedicated to advancing your retouching skills. This is one of his most popular services, and scheduling is limited due to his work, events & travel schedule. So get with him ASAP to book ASAP! A few July, several August & September dates are currently available. Contact him directly to book at 832-458-8954 or via email at ninobatista@gmail.com — even if your style of photography is completely different, Nino is a retouching master!

Nino Batista Private Retouching Training

Photo Credit – Top of Post, Retouching Example: benoitchampagnephoto via Creative Commons license.

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Christine

I am a business coach & photographer. My Superpower: Helping creative entrepreneurs grow their Confidence as they build a business based on unfiltered authenticity, using their blog and branding to become profitable. I live in Houston, Texas when I'm not traveling in my Mini Cooper. After all, Have Gear, Will Travel!
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