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How Much to Charge for Photo Retouching

Published: 03/09/2021

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Real estate marketing doesn't end at taking pictures, as you also need to edit photos to ensure they look spotless and appealing. However, the prices should be different from the actual shoot. I'm giving tips on how much to charge for photo editing tasks, including rate considerations and pricing structures.

How Much to Charge for Photo Retouching

You can charge the most basic level of photo editing anywhere between $80 and $100 per bulk. However, some agents would look for additional forms of editing, and you can charge up to $200 for that. However, the overall cost depends on the quantity, complexity, skills, and delivery.

Real estate photo editing improves the property's overall charm, attracting more buyers to seal the deal. Let's go over how you can develop photo editing rates to prepare for the next time a client wants to hire you. 

Cost of Retouching for Real Estate Photography

Beautiful images are essential in any business, especially real estate. These visuals must capture a buyer's attention and get that SOLD sign removed from the property. You can charge basic real estate photo editing up to $100, whereas extensive retouching may reach $200 per project.

Person retouching real estate photos using her laptop

Retouching refers to the post-production technique where you manipulate or alter a photo or some parts of it. Since photo retouchers from different photo editing facilities have varying skill levels and services, it's crucial that you first consider what kind of photo retouching you can offer to realtors.

Basic Retouching

Basic photo editing entails doing a simple edit on real estate images, to create high resolution pictures. Your photo requires basic retouching if you want to make a few adjustments in terms of color correction, changing the background color, stray hair removing and reshaping figures. 

It may also include putting models, removing artifacts, attaching furniture, and adding HDR effects. You can charge $ 0.5 to $1 per photo, then offer hourly or package photo editing rates depending on how many photos you are editing.

Moderate Retouching

In mid-level photo editing, you spend around 10 to 15 minutes on one photo. This level includes some photo editing tasks like stretching the picture background, removing glare on windows, blemish removal, teeth whitening and adjusting the white balance. With moderate retouching, the prices range between $2 to $3 per image.

Advanced Photo Editing

Advanced photo retouching comes in handy for wedding and beauty photography as you have to make sure that all people in the picture are natural. You should be ready to pay premium prices for high-end editing as editors may use a clipping path technique to process the photos.

The clipping path technique also comes in handy when adjusting shadows, swapping faces, image masking and background manipulation. Some clients may even request furniture editing, greenery placement, or 3D rendering. Due to the complexity, you can charge a minimum of $10 per photo

Types of Retouching That Can Increase Cost

A photo retouching cost may vary depending on the services you need per photo. The following are some advanced photo editing services that may drive the overall cost up:

  • Removing or adding people: As a photo editor, you might be required to add people in a group photo, especially if it was an important event such as a wedding and the person did not make it. Usually, you will need to use clipping and clone stamping techniques to remove a person in the photo, increasing the overall price.
  • Colorization of old photos: Adding color to black and white photos to restore the faded memories may cost much more money than color correction or simple edits, as you have to fade the background and brighten people in the foreground to balance the composition.
  • Compositing photos: Creating a clipping path allows an editor to composite the entire photo one at a time. The skill level and experience you require to make the correct composite can significantly increase the price. This kind of retouching needs a professional photographer, especially if the images require a background expansion, clean-up, and composition.
  • High-end retouching: Even high-quality images of models may require a bit of editing, particularly if your client expects flawless skin. Mostly, beauty photography will focus on blemish removal and smoothing skin. During the post-production phase, you can carry out some edits, such as adjusting the light, highlighting faces, adjusting the exposure, and whitening teeth, which may increase the overall cost of editing.

Pricing Structure for Photo Editing

The average income for freelance photographers is around $40,000 to $60,000 per year. The great thing about real estate photo editing tasks is that it opens a lot of opportunities to work with prominent real estate companies for you to earn more.

Photo editing for real estate can be time-consuming and tedious because you need to add certain effects on top of basic editing to produce a final artistic image. To make sure you won't sell yourself short, these are the various pricing structures you can use when charging for real estate photo editing.

Per hour

Establishing a per-hour rate makes calculating the cost for remote work or on-site work easy for you. Working on-site is advantageous to the retoucher as the firm can see the value of your work and pay for any associated costs like downtime. If the pricing goes higher than the calculated cost, the firm may be ready to pay because they clearly understand it.

With remote work, the rates per hour are fixed as it depends on the presented invoice. However, if you calculate the billing correctly, there are higher chances of earning a higher turnover as it depends on the number of hours you put to work. The minimum photo editing charges should start at around $15 and go up to around $120 per hour. 

Considering that it can take around one hour to edit a few photos, you can charge around $50 to $85 for simple edits, $100 to $120 for mid-level editing, and $120 to $150 per hour for complex retouching. 

The disadvantage with this photo editing rates is that the time spent on each image might be longer than expected. 

Per Image

Per-image photo editing rates are a great choice for advanced photo retouching since you'll most likely do many things in one photo. This enables you to calculate the right amount of time and effort for a single shot without affecting other pictures. 

However, after determining the fixed rate on each image you retouch, the price does not change even if you realize that you require more time on the images. The average rate per image goes between $0.5 to $10.

You can either consider computing a per-image or per hour rate for this.  The overall photo editing price may seem too expensive for some clients, especially if they ask you to work on hundreds of real estate photos.

Per Project

A per-project payment is common among fashion, product and wedding photographers since they work with plenty of photos.In this way, you can include every photo editing rates consideration into the final price. You can even include discounts if you want.This is a good way to market your image retouching services because realtors will know the upfront charges. 

Consider this if you're a freelancer or doing full-time photo retouching for a business, and you want to establish a long-term professional relationship with clients. If pricing per project, you can start with as low as $100 and go up to $ 200 per project. 

  • Simple edits: Depending on the number of photos you want to retouch, basic retouching per project ranges between $80 to $100
  • Moderate retouching: Advanced photo retouching prices for the product, beauty, or wedding images run between $100 to $200, depending on the complexity of the edits.
  • Complex retouching: Keeping in mind that this level of retouching is applied to model images, beauty shoots, and outdoor advertising images, these are more time-consuming and complex services, and their prices are higher. Depending on the complexity, you can charge around $150 to $250.

However, before pricing, you need to put some factors, such as turnaround time and the total number of files into account. The only drawback with this mode of photography pricing is that if the project takes longer than expected, you might end up losing some money.


This mode of payment is mostly used when the client wants more regular photo editing services. The client pays for the service in advance in order to ensure that the services are available at any given time. 

However, if you depend on one retainer client, you might lose money from other clients, so it is advisable to budget your time properly and fix some clients in between. Although the amount of money the retainer pays varies depending on the agreement and the client, retainer fees begin at about $1000 every month.

A cup of coffee and a camera beside a laptop


Most freelance photo editors and photographers prefer setting up packages for their clients to choose from. The services are grouped into different categories, For instance, the packages are from good, better to best, and the potential clients are able to choose what they exactly expect. 

Pricing Considerations for Retouching Real Estate Photos

Did you know that $16.63 is the average hourly wage for a photo editor in the United States? Fortunately, you can earn a bigger salary than this when you know how much to charge for photo retouching services.

With that said, consider these factors to ensure you can calculate the best rate that would make fair compensation for your real estate photo retouching services.


 Endless revisions are the bane of photo retouchers and so it's important to specify how many revisions or number of image editing rounds that you will allow per image and include this in the overall cost.

Delivery Method 

Are you maintaining an online gallery where the client can access the retouched photos anytime? Do you need to mail prints? Photo editors should apply additional photography prices if they have a special mode of printing, archiving, or delivery.

Experience or Skill Level 

Keep in mind that your client is also paying for your efficiency, and this work trait comes from years of experience and honing your craft. Photo editing charges may be higher if you have good skills and experience in a certain niche of photography. However, if you are a beginner photographer, its advisable to begin with basic pricing

Level of Difficulty

There's basic photo editing services, which usually includes color correction, cropping, straightening, or exposure adjustment. With advanced photo editing, you should expect to pay premium prices for high-end beauty and wedding photos because it ensures that all  people in the picture look amazing and natural. The rate should change depending on the retouching's complexity.


The number of pictures would significantly impact your speed. How many images do you need to edit? Is the client requesting 2 images per room or hundreds of photos for a large-scale property?

Turnaround Time

Typically, the faster the client requires the editing done, the higher the charges. Considering that different photos do not take equal editing time, before you start working on any project, it's important to know your client’s timeframe so that you determine the pricing. 

Real estate photography usually demands a quick turnaround time, like deadlines of 24 to 48 hours. However, you can increase the rate if your client is asking for rush delivery.


Do you offer editing services using free photo editing software, or do you have an Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom subscription? Maybe you're also using a Lookup table for special purposes. You should also consider these aspects when determining your photo editing rates.

Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop

Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop are cloud-based software that works on mobile, desktop, and tablets. Lightroom is ideal where simple edits such as color correction are required, while Photoshop provides you with more complex options. 

You may choose to buy Photoshop on its own or a plan that combines Lightroom and Photoshop together. Lightroom and Photoshop combination plans go for $19.99 per month. On the other hand, the Photoshop cost as a single application is slightly cheaper, costing around $9.99 every month.

Luminar AI

Luminar AI is an Artificial intelligence-powered photo editing software that provides you with quick and hassle-free photo editing solutions. This software utilizes the latest Artificial Intelligence technology to help you apply changes and effects to your photos with just a few clicks.

With this software, you do not need to sift through tweaking levels, menus, or meters, you only select a certain template, and your image applies the changes. Although you can get a seven-day free trial to find out whether the software suits your needs, you will have to pay full price depending on the Luminar AI plan you choose.

Luminar provides you with three varying packages that you can choose from the master pack, which goes for $79; the expert package for $148, which consists of a Luminar license; and an Aurora HDR, which gives you control over every photo editing aspect. Finally, the guru pack goes for $207, including the license, Aurora HDR, and an annual subscription to Luminar X membership.

Affinity Photo

Affinity photo is an image editing software that offers an appealing balance of professional-level features and affordability. Purchasing this software goes for $ 49 on Mac or Windows and $19.99 on an iPad

Types of Images

Photo editing prices also vary depending on the kind of photo you are editing. For instance, you cannot edit product photos the same way as real estate photos. Music, sport, and other forms of event photography require you to have a better understanding of the coverage trends and culture, as some techniques in these niches seem out of date. 

With product photography, you need to put into account the current fashion and technology and give every image a unique feel. Real estate photos require knowledge about the market, as you cannot present an office space the same as a luxury single-family property.

 As you carry out your pricing calculations, it's advisable to put the time and expertise you require into consideration.


The geographic location of the client plays a major role in pricing. Some states, such as South Carolina, West Virginia, and Arizona, have low average incomes, while New York, California, Washington DC, and Massachusetts have the highest average income.

Therefore, when setting your photo editing rates, it's important to put into account the average wages of the target locations. If you target the right industry and location, there are higher chances of growing your photography business.

Client's Budget

Knowing what kind of budget you are working with helps you determine if the rate, including any outsourced photo-editing work, is worth your time. Also, before letting the client know your rates, it is advisable to know their budget, as it offers you time to determine whether to go lower or higher.

This helps you retain the client for longer. However, if the client's budget is far lower than your normal rate, you can politely let them know and, if possible, refer them to someone whose rate is closer to their budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Free Tools That I Can Use to Retouch My Photos?

Yes, there are free tools that you can use to retouch your photos, such as GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). Typically, GIMP is a free, high-quality image manipulation program that allows you to edit images of a wide variety of formats using complex editing tools and features. It allows you to perform tasks such as enhancing the image composition and adjusting color balances.

What Are the Basic Edits I Am Expected to Do on Every Image?

The basic edits that you are expected to do on every image include cropping and getting rid of distracting background elements so you can improve the photo’s overall composition. You might also need to adjust the white balance to eliminate unwanted color casts that may make an image appear unnatural and then do a color correction to darken, brighten or saturate the colors


So, how much is the charge to edit photos? Real estate photo editors and professional photographers charge anywhere between $80 to $200 for every photo retouching project. The photo editor can even go higher if a client has more advanced retouching requests per image set. Remember, know your worth, and don't undersell your hard-earned photo editing skills.


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