How Much Does Retouching Cost?

When we talk about the cost of photo retouching, there are no fixed rates for an image. The prices usually differ from editor to editor, and they are kind of secretive about the way the rates are decided.

So it becomes complicated for individuals who are aspiring to have a career in photo editing to determine the photo retouching rates so that they can get an idea of how much they will be able to earn from it. Similarly, the companies or organizations also find it challenging to know the rates before pitching a proposal to the photo editors they want to hire.

If you are also one of such people, then your confusion ends right here! This article will explain how the photo retouching rates are decided and what it costs to get a photo retouching done. Read on!

Common Methods Used By Professionals To Set The Photo Retouching Rates

To determine the cost of photo retouching, one should be aware of the methods used in calculating it.

Most editors usually determine their photo retouching rates based on one of the two most commonly used methods: by hour method, known as hourly billing, or by the project method, known as project billing.

So, without further ado, let's discuss these two methods in detail.

1. Hourly Billing

Charges can range anywhere between $15 to $500+ per hour.

Using the hourly billing method is one of the easiest ways to determine photo retouching rates. Charging on a per-hour basis makes it convenient for the editors to calculate both the on-site work and the remote work. It also gives them a clear idea of the number of hours they need to work and the amount they'll make in that period.

As the rates are pre-decided and additional hours are billed accordingly, it leaves little to no room for confusion for both parties involved.

The Positives:

One of the most significant benefits of using the hourly billing method is that you can easily make extra bucks by putting in additional work hours. It also gives you the freedom to work according to your choices as you control the number of hours you want to put in for every project you take up.

The Negatives

However, most clients do not prefer the hourly billing method as the hours estimated by them usually differ from that of the freelancers. If you cannot complete a task in the given number of hours or if there is a miscalculation on your side, you'll need to put in extra work hours without getting paid for them.

2. Project Billing

Charges can range anywhere between $5 to $100+ per image.

Project billing is a method in which the retouching charges are predetermined based on each image or project. The charges are decided based on the complexities in an image, the number of photos to be edited, etc.

Clients highly prefer this method as they get a fixed figure for their proposal. No matter how long it takes, they know that they will get X number of retouched images for Y dollars.

The Positives

Charging with the project billing method clarifies both parties as the rates are fixed before the photo retouching begins. This ensures that both the client as well as the freelancer are on the same page.

The Negatives

Though the photo retouching rates are fixed in the project billing method, the work quality usually becomes a topic of confusion. This is because clients usually demand several edits before giving the final thumbs up. This results in you putting in an additional amount of time and work without getting a single dime for it.


Although there is no fixed rate for picture retouching, it depends on several factors like the type of retouching, time to retouch, software used, complex objects in the images, and the specific rates of different professionals. The methods used to set the photo retouching rates generally boils down to the two methods we discussed above.

So whether you are a freelance photo editor who wants to start earning from photo retouching or a company/individual who wants to hire a professional for editing your pictures, we recommend you clearly understand all the aspects of your project before deciding on a price.

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