If you’re in a situation where you hire a photographer but may not like the finished product, then you’re in a spot where you can ask them to adjust photos. Most photographers don’t mind doing edits but this can be accomplished in many ways.
Before you ask your photographer for an adjustment of some photos, check if your contract or agreement already covers such a request. Make sure to address the issue promptly with specific and realistic requirements and be prepared for some additional costs if the work will add up.
This guide will walk you through the process of having photos edited so you can end up with a great final product.
What Is Retouching?
Retouching or editing photos is almost always required. There are a few common areas that photographers can almost always fix as a part of their services.
For example, they typically use photoshop to remove people in the background or items that are undesirable such as garbage cans or trash. They may also remove light switches or other distracting elements. They can also adjust photos for light/dark and highlight certain areas.
You may not always see that the photos have been retouched. You should be aware that photo editing does take a fair amount of time though.
There are two types of retouching used today: extensive and minor.
Anything that’s an extensive change can take 10 minutes to an hour or possibly even longer. Minor retouching should only take the photographer a few seconds.
This can be removing certain items and correcting color fringing effects or lens distortion.
Extensive retouching can include wardrobe retouching, skin smoothing, altering light, and recovering highlights as well as others.
Review Your Contract
Before moving forward with the request, it’s usually best to first review the agreement that you’ve made with the photographer. Larger or significant photo shoots have the clients sign an agreement. This may specify how much editing they will do as a part of the package and may also specify how much you can pay for additional services.
A photographer will likely be willing to do minor adjustments as a part of their package. Even the best photographer knows that a few edits are almost always necessary.
If you’re incredibly forward-thinking, then this is a good area to discuss before hiring a photographer.
Ask them how much editing they will do as a part of the package. Some photographers may be willing to do more extensive adjustments than others.
Ideally, a good photographer should only need to make a few changes but you should be prepared to discuss what extent they will do as a part of their pricing. If the photographer doesn’t want to provide this service, then you may want to find a different professional for the job.
Make the Request Rapidly
Once you’ve received your photos, you may find that you have some additional retouching requests. This may lead you to ask the photographer to make changes. Most photographers are going to be willing to work with clients.
Depending on the changes you’d like, they may be able to do these changes for free or for a small cost.
However, regardless of the request you’re making, it’s always best to reach out as quickly as possible for the request.
Photographers will assume that you are happy with your photos usually about a month after the images have been delivered to clients. They won’t leave your file open forever and will close it and move on to other projects.
At some point, the photos that your photographer didn’t deliver are going to be deleted. While you may have digital copies, having to provide them to the photographer for additional edits is going to be more challenging.
Since the photographer wants to make you happy with the final product, review any photos that are provided promptly and then reach out for requested changes as quickly as possible.
Be Realistic With Requests
When you approach the photographer with your requests, it’s always best to come from a positive view. The photographer wants their work to be appreciated.
Unless you’re completely unhappy with the photos, you should make your request in a way that is positive.
Consider that their work is being evaluated. While a seasoned photographer won’t request edits personally, they will be more willing to do the edits for you if they understand that their work is appreciated.
Reach out to the photographer and mention that while you enjoy the photos, you’ve also noticed that they would benefit from some editing. Depending on the photography package, you may have already had an opportunity to request edits. If this has occurred but you didn’t make the request initially, apologize for the late notice.
You can make your request but take note of what is realistic vs unrealistic.
For example, adding highlights or fixing colors are edits but they can be done fairly easily. If you want to make any major changes, be aware that this may not be possible or, if possible, the photographer may have additional fees for you to pay. If this isn’t in your budget, then you may have to search for other options.
Another option is to limit the editing you’re requesting. For example, a photographer may not mind editing five photos, but will probably want to charge you for a significant number.
Consider choosing the top ones that you want to be edited and leaving the rest for later.
When you have the request, reach out to the photographer and be as specific as possible.
A photographer is a professional but not a mind reader. He or she can only work with the information that you’ve given.
For example, if the photo has red-eye, then you can point this out and ask the photographer to edit it. Some qualities of photos may be more challenging to describe.
However, work on trying to be as clear as possible in your requests.
After you’ve explained the desired edits to the photographer, he or she should clarify any areas that don’t make sense.
This will also provide the photographer with a chance to give you an idea of what they can and cannot edit. If your request simply can’t be done, then they should tell you this right away. If the request can be done, the photographer will be able to give you an idea of what to expect and the time frame to complete the edits.
Remember that photographers often have a busy schedule so you shouldn’t expect this to happen overnight.
Be Flexible with Pricing
Depending on your contract with the photographer, you’ve probably already paid for a certain amount of editing and retouching with the cost of the shoot. Most photographers include this in their fees but may have limited edits specified.
This may mean that if you’re requesting additional edits, then you need to be willing to pay for this additional work.
If the photographer has already made the specified edits, then be willing to request additional ones for a certain fee.
This may be based on a per photo fee or an hourly cost. Depending on the amount of retouching needed, it’s hard to say how much you can plan to be charged.
It’s likely that if the photographer does charge you for these edits, you can expect to pay slightly less than if you were simply getting the edits done on your own. Remember that their time is valuable and any additional work should be compensated.
Consider Alternate Services
Although your photographer is probably the best person to edit the photos, that’s not the only option you have if needed. A photo editing and retouching company is also an option.
You can expect to pay more for this service but consider using this if you have difficulty with your current photographer.
Many people find that while they liked the photographer they used, they aren’t satisfied with the editing process and even with discussion, can’t seem to end up with a desired final product.
If you’re struggling to communicate and get the results that you want from the photographer, it may be best to move on to another professional. Ask family or friends for recommendations in your area and then check out these alternate professionals.
They may have higher costs since they didn’t take the original photos. You may want to do this if you only have a few photos that need editing as it can be an expensive process.
If you’re not sure that the company is right for you, make an appointment to discuss the desired changes. They should be able to tell you whether they can make the edits, the time frame to do so, and the cost of those edits.
Enjoy the Photos
Once you’ve had the photos edited, then you’re all set. Most people like keeping the original and edited photos handy. This will be a good idea if you have any additional changes you want to make or find out that you may have enjoyed the unaltered ones best.
Once a photo has been retouched, it’s difficult to reverse so keep both copies handy.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.