The Business of Retouching

The Business of Retouching

There is greater demand for retouchers now more than ever, yet the lack of business and pricing information leaves many photographers and retouchers unsure of how to price for retouching, how to estimate and bid on commercial jobs, and how to communicate with clients and ask the right questions. This lack of confidence and understanding of the business of retouching leaves many photographers and retouchers burning themselves out, losing time and money throughout multiple rounds of unnecessary revisions.

In this comprehensive business tutorial, commercial retouchers Sef McCullough and Earth Oliver unpack their proven business workflow and strategies from client inquiry to final delivery. You will first build a foundational knowledge of the retouching industry, then follow along through a case study of a real life commercial retouching job as Sef writes emails to clients and assesses, estimates, prices, and bids on a project from start to finish.

Then take your knowledge of the business of retouching and join Sef and Earth as they talk with other working pros of the industry including professional retouchers Lisa Carney, Jordan Hartley, and Peter Hunner, and photographers Clay Cook and Rob Grimm. We’ve never put so many industry pros in one tutorial!

Throughout the tutorial you will learn:

The Retouching Industry and Retoucher Personas
How To Start A Business and What It Takes To Be A Retoucher
What Gear You Need To Be A Retoucher
The Industry Language and Standards of Commercial Retouchers
How To Communicate with Commercial Clients
How To Price for Retouching
How To Bid on Commercial Jobs
How To Create Formal Bids and Work Agreements
Business Strategies to Maximize Profits and Minimize Revisions
And Much More
Included Documents:

Retoucher's Gear List
Everything retouchers need to get started and stay competitive
Business Workflow Guide
A start-to-finish roadmap for communicating, pricing, bidding, and producing commercial jobs
Client Questionnaire
Everything you need to ask clients to accurately price and bid jobs
Job Calculation Worksheet
A tried and true formula for pricing ANY retouching job
Sample Formal Work Agreement
A working template to use for commercial retouching jobs

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The Business of Retouching

21 Videos

  • Introduction

    Welcome to The Business of Retouching with Sef McCullough & Earth Oliver. In this course, follow 2 seasoned veterans as they describe and define the business of retouching. Identify 5 retouching personas, examine client management and communication, and define a set of principles to guide your re...

  • Retouching Personas

    To begin this course, learn how to identify your persona as a retoucher. Retouching involves a vast skillset with a variety of positions and opportunities across the photography industry. Develop a clear understanding of those positions and their hierarchy to help quantify your skills. Build a so...

  • Retouching Essentials

    With a solid foundation on what it means to be a retoucher, build on your persona identification. Learn about the essential tools and necessities that a retoucher needs to be successful within the industry. From hardware, software, accessories, client communication tools, file transfer and backup...

  • Business Workflow

    After identifying a persona, a retoucher’s toolset, and a direction for your career journey, build a workflow for business communication and client interaction. Learn the importance of client communication, ongoing dialogue, and setting specific expectations to define a project scope. Learn how t...

  • Client Inquiry

    It’s time to get more specific. Dive into a case study to examine the process of winning work, to final project completion. Follow high end retoucher, Sef McCullough as he examines a potential client project via an e-mail inquiry. Learn how to examine the inquiry, assess client needs, and positio...

  • Gathering Primary Information

    Client management is not an easy task. Learning to master creative and technical skills takes time, patience, talent, and a willingness to never stop learning. Business interactions are no different. Learning to communicate with your clients is essential. It’s not just about winning work. Managin...

  • Client Response

    After sending a first email response to the client inquiry, learn how to evaluate a client response. Take a detailed look at how to assess the information a potential client gives you and measure your response. Evaluate project parameters and continue to refine your questions to get as much infor...

  • Project Assessment

    With a good base of information, you can begin to develop a sound estimation for a bid. Follow Sef as he uses a custom job calculation worksheet. Implement a solid and tested method of calculating your time and cost to price your work with confidence. Learn how to build an accurate pricing model ...

  • Gathering Secondary Information

    Having a built a solid bid estimate, learn the process of responding to the client and continue to ask key questions to create clear project expectations. Clarify asset quality, project timing, legal considerations, and establish the primary points of contact for the review process. Learn to ask ...

  • Preliminary Bid

    Evaluate the client’s response to your questions for secondary information. At this stage, identify the project look, deliverable assets, finalize legal parameters, and learn the main points of contact for the project review. Also, identify the client’s target budget to assess if that matches you...

  • Formal Work Agreement

    Congratulations! You’ve won the client. But just like details matter in any retouching workflow, the same is true for business interactions and agreements. At this stage, learn how to finalize the formal work agreement. Define the importance of having this type of agreement, what it contains, and...

  • Lisa Carney Part I

    You should now have a firm foundation in building a business workflow for retouching. Make the transition with us, into a series of sit down interviews with some of the industry’s most tenured and exciting new faces in the world of retouching. For this first interview segment, join retouching art...

  • Lisa Carney Part II

    Join photographer, Rob Grimm, and retouchers Lisa Carney, Sef McCullough and Earth Oliver as they continue to discuss industry dynamics. From communication, to fixing mistakes, to the different perspectives of production vs. post-production. Learn about how to navigate managing client expectation...

  • Lisa Carney Part III

    For this final segment interview with retoucher, Lisa Carney, hear her insights about breaking into the retouching industry and winning new work. Listen as she addresses the importance of gaining a visual vocabulary of the environment you want to work in. Gain a proactive approach for effective i...

  • Peter Hunner Part I

    Transition to another industry perspective with New York based agency principal, Peter Hunner. Listen as Peter discusses his industry experience from higher education, to starting as a digital tech, working his way through the personas to become an agency principal.

  • Peter Hunner Part II

    Continue following industry voice, retoucher and agency principal, Peter Hunner with insights about what it takes to be a working retoucher. Hear about the value of having an eye for design. Understand the importance of both creative and technical skillsets to be an effective retoucher. And build...

  • Peter Hunner Part III

    For the final segment with retoucher and agency principal Peter Hunner, listen to the ebb and flow of agency growth and contraction as the business model continues to evolve. Hear the value of finding balance in your personal life and creating fulfilling work. Learn what factors defined the decis...

  • Jordan Hartley & Clay Cooke Part I

    In the final series of industry voice segments, join retoucher, Jordan Hartley and photographer Clay Cook as they discuss their professional partnership. Hear how Jordan began his career as a retoucher, developed his skillset and began winning client work. See the perspective of an entirely self ...

  • Jordan Hartley & Clay Cooke Part II

    In this second segment of industry voices with retoucher, Jordan Harltey and photographer, Clay Cook hear about the prospect of working as a remote retoucher. Listen as they discuss working together across national borders, how often they can collaborate on set for a production, and how having a ...

  • Jordan Hartley & Clay Cooke Part III

    n this third and final segment of industry voices with retoucher, Jordan Hartley and photographer, Clay Cook, listen to their strategies for finding new clients and work. Here how Jordan, developed a portfolio from online raw resources, and devised an initially broad but progressively more curate...

  • Closing Thoughts

    Congratulations! You have completed The Business of Retouching with Sef McCullough and Earth Oliver. By now, you should have a solid foundational understanding of what it takes to work within the retouching industry. From agency personas, to business workflow, to core communications skills, to pr...

  • The Business Of Retouching Support Files.zip

    35.6 MB