If you shoot a session, where the end product will have much exposed skin (face/body), how do you compose the price for the end product? Do you have fixed prices? Or do you calculate retouching separately from the whole post-processing?

I'm new in this business and would very like to know opinions of those who makes photos for life.

A variant appearing to me as logical, is:

  • client pays for the shooting on the hour basis, like hours amount X hour price,
  • client pays pays for the end product depending on how many images should be delivered, like amount of delivered images X average price for one completely retouched and post-processed image, because of retouching of each image could take different amount of time.

So the price formula would be like b hours X c $ (for shooting) + m images X n $ (for retouching/post-processing).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Commenting only because I have zero experience in commercial photography. But in my field, you build contingencies into quote such that if the worst case scenario occurs you still get paid what you are aiming for. However you can average that out over multiple customers such that the contingencies are a smaller part of each contract. Or in your case you could pad the per image processing fee to achieve the same thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 19:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? How do you determine how much to ask for when someone wants you to photograph a wedding? \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 1:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterM even though you have zero experience in commercial photography, your comment is still an answer to the question. Please put your answers in the answers section, even if they're short \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Peter M : per image processing fee is currently my way to go. But clients like this way lesser - tjey don't understand the difference between fast applying if Lightroom preset and manzal skin retouching. The want just see sharp images and never see efforts behind. \$\endgroup\$
    – Evgeniy
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ The other side of the coin: How do I work out what is fair to pay for photo editing? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


Usually re-touching is an add-on. Say something like this: basic retouching, included in a standard shoot, includes face retouching and global corrections, such as skin-tone or overall smoothing (or whatever you are fine with including). Additional retouching is $100/hr, rounded up to nearest half hour. Ask for an estimate.

The first question for yourself is what do you WANT to be doing as a photographer. The second is, how long would it take for a "difficult" photoshoot to accomplish that editing? Then budget accordingly, and specify to the client that things beyond those criteria are extra.

My shoots would fall in one of two categories:

  1. No editing - Client pays for my shooting time and gets all digital files unedited, or VERY lightly edited (delete blurry, crop a few key pictures).

  2. Budget hourly for X times the length of the photo shoot, where X is some function of how much editing is appropriate. A wedding, I'd say 3x the photo shoot length. A portrait shoot can be 2x. So I'd charge a wedding with 4 hours of photography, the price of 12 hours of labor. The 8 is pre and post production time, and I try to honor my time this way. A portrait shoot with little advance planning, and especially at my house/studio, might take only 45 minutes, and I'm charging 1.5h, making sure I only edit the entire shoot in 45 minutes. These are very global edits. Delete most pictures that are mediocre or worse. Batch color and exposure correction, global smoothing. Inspect each picture for a need for any major custom adjustments (e.g., one over-exposed picture), and fine tune 2-3 of the best pictures for showcasing.

In practice, I find its hard to stick to my time limits for editing, and I don't like charging too much, so most of the time I try to sell my clients on a 0-edit version. It gives me lots of peace-of-mind. These days of social media, most people are at least a little familiar with making their pictures look better, and I then don't need to carry the burden of 'how much is too much skin correction?'

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is one approach to the fact that you need a business model that provides enough revenue for you and that clients will pay for without getting so upset at the start they don't hire you or at the end they send other clients away. The model can vary greatly depending on the market you are in. Because you are a pro the client is expecting (much) better photos than people take on phones. You need to deliver that better at an acceptable price. How you compute the price is not so important for the client. It can be for you to avoid unprofitable jobs. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 1, 2021 at 3:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.