Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Put down the mouse, and step away from your computer!

Now more than ever, photographers need to spend their valuable time photographing their clients, or marketing and networking to find new ones. It's more profitable to outsource the processing of your files to another visual professional. Dept. of Corrections will edit your shoots, correct and convert your RAW files, and perform retouching and pixel editing; freeing you to shoot more, market more, or just chill out more! This blog will describe the services in detail, and their fees. You'll also be able to view some retouching samples, read a little bio, and find contact info (see the profile to the left.)

Let's start with image culling. This involves editing your take from a job to an appropriate number of images for proofing. Using a program like Adobe's Lightroom, images which are technically beyond salvaging or unflattering to the subject will be deleted. So will excess duplicates of similar photos. The approach taken will insure that the story of your project will be told, with particular attention paid to retaining the seemingly odd or quirky image that makes each job unique. Your photographic style will be respected.
How it works: You request a desired range of images you'd like to show your client. The charge is $.10/image times the total number of images in the batch. Example: 1000 images = $100.00, regardless of whether 350 or 700 images make the cut.

The next step in the workflow is to correct and convert your RAW files. This is my most popular service. Using Adobe's Lightroom or Bridge/Camera Raw software your selects will be density, contrast and color corrected. Then they'll be batch renamed using your naming protocol (if desired) and output to your preferred file format. If you'd like
to process out the files yourself, the xmp files containing all corrections can simply be e-mailed to you. The goal here is to create files of at least sufficient quality for proofing. And these images will provide a solid foundation on which to apply your artistic vision when creating final print/album photos. If you're not doing a lot of retouching or stylizing, you should be able to make final prints without any additional work.
How it works: FTP your files, or send your RAW files or Jpegs on DVD, small external drive, or even a CF card. Pricing is broken into three tiers depending on number of images submitted, and level of correction required. High Volume/Wedding rate is $.32 per RAW file. Portrait/E-Sessions--Fewer than 200 images--$.40/file. Low Volume/High Attention Sessions--Fewer than 50 files--$1.00/file. This fee applies to very small jobs, usually commercial work, that requires extra special attention, typically numerous local corrections like brush work and gradients, and extensive lens corrections. An example of where this fee would apply would be interior photos of a commercial or residential space, or other architectural work.  

Dept of Corrections also performs a wide range of Photoshop pixel editing.

This is broken into two tiers, depending on the level of retouching needed. The less
expensive tier is $30.00/hr (1hr minimum.) This level of service would be appropriate to make images suitable for final prints; either a loose print order, or album prints. Image density, contrast, and color would be optimized.
Sensor dust and MINOR blemishes and red-eye would be removed. B&W and sepia conversions would be made (you may supply your preferred methods, actions, etc.,) and noise reduction and/or sharpening would be applied as necessary. The above fee is based on expecting a few hours' worth of work, the type of which 10-12 finished images can be completed per hour. In other words, a typical album order or large loose print order, where most of the images need just a little clean up and tweaking. The cost per image of this service is actually quite reasonable.

The upper tier service is $50.00/hr (1/2hr minimum, billable in 15 minute increments,) and would include all the lower tier work, plus significant pixel editing of an image. Included here would be beauty retouching of wrinkles, smoothing skin, liquifying and reshaping of body contours, replacing of heads, eyes, and the like. Before any work commenced we'd discuss the issues with the image, the desired result, and the budget for the work. Typically, only a small percentage of an album or loose print order would receive this treatment. If you click on the "Doc Samples" link in the Cool Stuff on the Web section at the top right, you'll be able to view a small sampling of retouching. I must give a shout out to my colleagues Mike Kehr and Michael Leslie for letting me post samples of my work on their images. Thanks guys!