All posts in Pricing

How to Tell Your Client You Won’t Do Extensive Photoshop Work for Free

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.

The Myth of “My Photography Pricing Has to Be Low…”

The Myth of Your Prices Have to Be Low“Everyone else in my area is priced so low, so I have to be priced low too.”

I see this time and time again, people lamenting about the other photographers in their town who offer $50 portrait sessions with all of the digital files included, and how on EARTH are they ever going to compete with that if they set their photography pricing any higher?!?

Easily.

You are not those photographers. Their business is not your business. You don’t know what else they have going on that allows them to charge such a low rate. They may not be making a profit at all. But you? You get to design the business YOU want to create! (Remember?)

Just because everyone in your area has low rates, doesn’t mean you have to. That is probably just the perception you have after seeing several people with low rates. Those photographers normally either end up building volume studio businesses or not surviving in business long at all. Some of them are hobbyists making a bit on the side with a full time job.

Personally? I don’t want to take any of those routes. I’ve never wanted a volume studio. It makes me exhausted thinking of doing 100 sessions a month. Someone told me at Imaging this year that they do 25 sessions a week and I wanted to cry. Not my thing at all. I also don’t want to have to take up a full time job so that I can afford to keep doing photography. Perfectly valid choice if you want to do it. I’d rather make a profit doing what I love, and only that.

There are likely other people in your area who are charging a lot more. Or the people in your area could be driving to other cities to hire more expensive photographers.

If everyone in your area is charging $50 for a session, you’ve got a great advantage if you charge more, because PRICE is perceived as being of higher value!

Target carries some nice, large purses. I’ve owned several of them over the years. Normally priced at $30 – $40, they do the job. They are large and roomy, tote my things around, and fall apart by the end of the season. I don’t expect much out of them because they were inexpensive. If they last two months? Well, I probably abused the heck out of them and got my money’s worth.

Kate Spade carries lovely, large purses. Leather, durable, handles that are comfortable for me to carry. Easily in the $300 – $400 range, they not only do a job, but they say something about me when I carry them. As a brand, they make a statement. I probably like things that are a little quirky, bright, colorful. I like classic pieces that are timeless and versatile and I can use year after year. Since they are leather, I can easily clean them. As long as I condition them, they will last.

There is room for both of these purses in my closet.

What if Kate Spade told herself, “I can never possibly charge $400 for a purse! I mean, Target sells perfectly good bags for $40?!”

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

You get to set the prices for your brand. You should know exactly what you need to make to turn a profit and to not burn yourself out. To build a business that allows you to be happy in what you are doing. This isn’t just a job, this is your LIFE. Make it what you want it to be.

Because I promise you, there are people in your area who are spending money on luxury items. Look at the large TV on their wall, the numerous game systems that they have bought for their kids (or themselves), the iPhone they have in their pocket, possibly with an iPad or other tablet device in their bag not 3 feet away, the designer clothes they are wearing, the brand of purse on their arm, and the luxury vehicle that they drive.

They will be glad that someone is out there that is more expensive, because they want nice things, and if it cost more, that is yet another differentiator that tells them that YOU are valuable to them.

What you don’t get to do is tell me how you simply can’t charge rates that allow you to be profitable because no one in your area will pay them. I don’t believe you.

* Of course, all of this requires you to take some decent photographs, and to do the leg work to build a brand. It isn’t impossible. It isn’t rocket science even. But it does take a bit of determination. I believe in you. You can do it! I’ll be talking more about resources that can help over the coming weeks — including Fight Club — the July 2013 Fight Club in Denver has ONE SPOT left, and I’ll be there as one of the coaches, helping the Fighters along their journey! Sign up for that last spot!

Preveal Sale & Giveaway!

Preveal App for Photographers

Now that we have talked about how I handle In-Person Sales Sessions, the timing could not be better to share with you that the Preveal app is on sale! Purchase it between now & May 24, 2013 and receive $25 off of the normal price.

Preveal brings the power of showing your clients their images on their walls to your iPad. With easy step-by-step instructions, your clients gather photographs of the places in their home that they would like wall art (or you go to their home and take the photos for them), and you can then show your clients exactly how the photographs will look in their home. You can show them a variety of wall gallery collections as well as showing them how single large outwork pieces will look. Ever had that client that wondered if an 8×10 print would look great over their fireplace? Now you can show them that it is too small, and what size will be more appropriate.

To go along with Preveal, make sure you get a copy of DesignAglow’s free guide for clients to photograph their home for the wall displays. The educational guide “teaches your clients how to take a well composed, properly scaled image of their home’s future wall gallery location.”

Not only is the app on sale, but Preveal is hosting a giveaway as well! You can enter to win a chance at over $1000 in prizes, including a chance to win a mentoring session with me! To enter, visit the Preveal blog and follow the instructions for the contest.

The goodies that are up in the contest that you could win?

Visit the Preveal blog to enter and win! But hurry, before the contest ends on May 24th! And don’t forget to pick up your copy of the Preveal App while it is on sale!