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How Much to Charge to Edit Photos

Published: 17/09/2021

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Real estate photography is more than just shooting properties because you also need to edit them to produce better output. However, creating rates can be confusing when you don't know where to start. I'm sharing how much to charge to edit photos to beat the competition and attract more clients.

How Much to Charge to Edit Photos

When setting rates for photo editing, you can start with $2 to $10 per image or at least $20 per hour. You can also develop a package rate for bulk orders or repeat clients. However, you can still adjust the prices depending on the volume, timeline, and project management system.

Since there are various ways you can charge clients for editing work, let's first look into the typical cost of real estate photo editing.

Camera beside a laptop with Photoshop and Lightroom software

Cost of Editing Real Estate Photos

Photo editing has different levels, ranging from basic to extensive. The coverage of each tier may depend on your skills or how you want to market services to clients. Hence, photo editing prices can range anywhere from $2 to $10 per image.

Basic Photo Editing

As the name suggests, basic editing is easier, and you might even carry it out using free photo editing applications. In most cases, this will involve basic exposure and lighting correction. 

Basic 10-minute editing of an image can cost $2 to $3. It shouldn't take too much effort, although the alterations would produce a high-resolution picture. For real estate photography and landscapes, this usually involves cropping, straightening, modifying white balance, adjusting contrast, and resizing

Advanced Photo Editing

Advanced photo editing requires more technique and effort. While you may edit a photo for around 10 minutes, you can set the starting price at $5 because of more editing tasks. 

This level may cover tone balancing, removing blemishes, hair masking, skin smoothening, teeth whitening, and eye sharpening. Likewise, advanced editing may include changing lot numbers or removing the background.

However, unlike extensive editing, advanced editing is moderate and might not require lots of adjustments to make the photo look natural and realistic. 

Extensive Photo Editing

You can charge up to per image for extensive photo retouching. Even if it would only take you 15 minutes to edit a picture, you would be pouring more skills and effort to finish the task.

It involves complex edits requiring vast experience, such as compositional improvements and spot removals. The editing might also require the use of different high-end photo manipulation applications. 

An extensive photo editing is more challenging because you would try to transform an image to make it look perfect. For example, a client may request you make the body slimmer, add fancy effects, apply digital makeup, and add or remove phone lines.

Pricing Structures for Photo Editing

Photo editing can range from minor adjustments to extensive alterations. The way you present prices can influence whether a client will hire you or not. Hence, these are the ways you can offer photo editing services and their corresponding prices.

Photo Editing Charges by the Hour

You can start with $50 for hourly rates as long as you're doing basic photo editing. More complex tasks can go up to $120 per hour, which should also depend on the number of photos. The advantage is that you will earn what you think is a fair wage for your service. 

However, some clients don't know how long it takes to edit images professionally and may expect you to deliver hundreds of photos on a whim. You can use the following hourly rates depending on the complexity of the photo.

  • Extensive editing: Usually, you can charge around $120 to $150 per hour for extensive edits that require high-level skills such as compositing
  • Advanced editing: You can charge around $100 to $120 per hour for moderate edits such as the addition of the bokeh effect
  • Basic editing: You can charge around $50 to $100 per hour for basic edits that can be carried out on free photo-editing applications

Photo Editing Charges by Image

Setting rates by image is a clear-cut way that's favorable for both editors and clients. Per image pricing rates for real estate can range anywhere from $2 to $10, depending on the complexity, editing style, and scope of work.

However, this can sometimes be confusing for clients as you need to set particular prices for different categories. For example, background removal rates can differ from masking services. You can use the following breakdown to get estimated rates depending on the complexity of the edits.

  • Extensive editing: You can charge $30 to $50 per image for complex edits such as colorizing old black and white photos
  • Advanced editing: Although it can be challenging to determine whether the editing is extensive or advanced, you might need to charge $15 to $25 per image for the addition of basic effects
  • Basic editing: Usually, you will want to charge around $2 to $10 for basic photo-editing, regardless of how straightforward the adjustments are
A Canon camera placed on a computer desk

Photo Editing Charges by Project

If you're sealing a long-term photo editing job with a client, you can set the number of images per project. You can even offer discounts on big orders.

A per-project rate is only ideal if there's a fixed turnaround time, as this can be too time-restricting for rush orders. You can compute the final price through a per-image or hourly system. However, you can use the following price per project estimated rates to determine how much to charge for the project.

  • Extensive editing: You can charge around $150 to $250 to extensively edit photos of real estate projects depending on the number of images and the complexity of the edits
  • Advanced editing: You can charge around $100 to $200 depending on the number of images and discounts.
  • Basic editing: Keeping in mind that you can synchronize many of the basic adjustments across photos using an image manipulation software such as Lightroom, you can charge around $80 to $100 per project

What Is Included in the Photo Editing Pricing?

Keeping in mind that those are average prices of photo editing per hour, per image, or by project, the main determinant of how much you'll charge for the photo editing is the complexity of the photos and the retouching it requires. 

The following are some common photo editing and retouching services that you might need to include in your pricing plan.

Removal or Addition of People in the Photo 

Real estate photographers will be more likely to capture people they don't intend to capture, especially when shooting real estate exterior photos using a drone. However, it is not advisable to print or post the photos on online platforms with people's faces without their knowledge and permission, as it can lead to legal issues.

Also, sometimes people miss group photos, and they want the photo to be edited so they can be included. In most cases, you can do this using the Clone stamping and clipping feature in photo manipulation applications. 

Color Correction 

Many real estate photographers fail to capture accurate colors, especially when capturing exterior photos in broad daylight or when shooting interior photos in low light conditions. As a result, different elements in the photo look discolored and inaccurate.

The photographer might also want color adjustments to bring out different moods, such as a warm color to evoke emotions. Your work will be to improve the contrast, hue, tone, and saturation of the photo until it achieves the color and mood the photographer is looking for. 

Colorizing Photos

Real estate photographers might want different elements in the photo colorized. For instance, the photographer might want to improve the green appearance of a lawn or backyard, or even improve the looks of the paint.  

Usually, this is one of the most challenging jobs that can significantly increase the editing costs as you will need to work with the real estate agent or the photographer who made the actual shots to be able to add more accurate colors. 


There are many events and situations where people can't skip photos simply because they have blemishes and won't look appealing in the picture. For instance, people can't skip a wedding photo because their teeth are not white enough. However, they might want the photo edited and improved to make it aesthetically appealing.

Real estate agents might also want photos edited and imperfections such as glare on windows and shiny objects or dents on paints and walls removed. People might also want you to add effects such as sun rays in the photo

You can beautify the photos and make them appealing by adjusting the light, fading the background, and brightening the main subject or elements in the foreground using clone stamps, layers, and masking techniques. 

Compositing Photos

Compositing photos is the merging of one or several photos to create a new one. Sometimes you might even need to combine multiple digital effects to make the photo aesthetically appealing. 

Although it might seem like a simple job, it can be challenging, especially when working with complicated photos. In most cases, compositing photos is classified as an extensive photo-editing service as it's time-consuming and requires experience and skills to make the final photo look realistic and natural.

Things to Consider When Charging for Photo Editing

There's an expected 4% decline in the employment of photo editors from 2019 to 2029. While this mainly applies to photo editing jobs for print and publishing, the real estate market continues to open opportunities for editors.

To ensure you can grab as many photo editing jobs as possible, it's vital that you consider these factors when setting rates. 

  • Industry: Beginner photo editors make the mistake of not targeting particular sectors. If you're more of a real estate editor, you can likely edit photos in this category more efficiently. While you can try other niches, it's possible it would take more time to adjust and finish the work.
  • Location: Location is another crucial factor when charging clients, as average wages vary in different places. For example, photo editors in California earn an average hourly salary of $24.14, whereas editors from Iowa get $15.04. Targeting locations with high average incomes gives you better chances of increasing rates.
  • Skill level: Photo editing is a highly competitive field, as amateur editors can't charge the same prices as seasoned photo editors. The competition can either drive rates up or bring them down.
  • Property type: Real estate photo editors can work on tiny homes to multi-story property buildings because the market covers a broad range of property types. Consider that you may need more time and skills to work on large furnished properties with several features than a small unfurnished house.
  • Time: Avoid underselling yourself and don't charge below $2 for a single photo. Even if it only takes you 5 minutes to edit a picture, keep in mind that clients would be paying for your training and years of experience that led to you being an efficient editor.
  • Equipment: Investing in the best monitor, CPU, or laptop requires money. As you'll be using such hardware for editing, it's important that you earn enough for maintenance. 
  • Project Management: You may feel like $30 for the bulk project is enough to pay for your services. Wait until you have to pay for online storage space, client management software, or photo editing program. Make sure to include these expenses so you won't have to pay for them from your pocket.

What Is the Difference Between Photo Editing and Photo Retouching?

Although many people use the terms photo editing and photo retouching interchangeably, the main difference between photo editing and photo retouching is that photo editing is fairly straightforward compared to photo retouching.

Generally, photo editing means more noticeable elements in the photo need to be removed, included, or adjusted. It is also possible to synchronize most photo edit adjustments across images using a photo manipulation application such as Lightroom.

On the other hand, photo retouching involves adjustments amateur photographers might not even notice. Photo retouching adjustments require skills and advanced photo-editing applications such as Photoshop. Generally, photo retouching can be classified as extensive photo editing. 


It's essential for photo editors to learn how to charge the right prices to make the business profitable. I hope our tips can help improve your real estate photography rates. The next time a client asks for your rates, you can send a price quotation that would benefit all parties.


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