40% of my business income comes from renting equipment to productions (so in 2022 is was around $74,000).

In 2022 I had 3 months off on maternity leave.

80% of my days are for on set retouching, 10% working as a capture tech, 10% hourly rate retoucher.

Majority of my work is for a local Fortune 500 corporation which shoots 90% of their packaging and editorial content in town. On average I have around 4-5 smaller local clients which tend to have smaller projects or just retouching needs.

I have a home office so there is no need to rent space to store equipment. General overhead is fairly low but I do like to stay up to date on equipment so frequently update and replace gear. I spend and average of $24,000 on computers/monitors/accessories (think capture cables/hard drives/dongles/cases). Other expenses come from multiple seats of necessary software (~3,500/year) insurance (~1,000/year) and expenses for being a S-corp (~1,200/year). My partner covers health insurance so I’m lucky I don’t have that expense because I’m sure it’d be a lot.

For retirement I contribute to a SIMPLE plan with a 3% match from my business.

I worked 149 days in 2022 (31 jobs). 98 days so far as of 8/9/2023(21 jobs).

I also provide long term backup and file storage for a fee and charge a flat hourly rate for file retrieval if it becomes necessary.

Larger productions include sitting on on pre-pro calls to understand the scope of the project about a week in advance. Prep days I’ll drop gear and setup all the EQ. Most of my jobs require 2 workstations as well as one on set retoucher station. Make sure all crops/decks/sessions are set-up and ready to go for the shoot day. Once on set I work with the photographer to make sure filenames and crops are correct. Often I’ll do that while also retouching the files in real time for the client to approve. Normally the turn-around time is the Friday of the job so it’s important to stay on top of their needs and to make sure the photographer is being supported also.

Best jobs for me are multi-week packaging productions for our local major corporation. With equipment these jobs can average $10,000 per week.

I am pretty selective about which projects I’ll take on. My rate is mostly non-negotiable but some jobs do need more time than the client is willing to offer so there are times that I’ll have to squeeze in extra work after hours and overnight. I always bill an overtime rate but the physical toll can be a lot (12+ hours retouching for multiple days is hard).

When I first started out I made an effort to really get to know all the producers working in my market. Worked well to get into the last minute/small jobs other digi tech’s didn’t want to take and allowed me to get to know a lot of the photographers in town.

Be kind to everybody on set. You never know what role that person may step into later on in their career. Make it a point to know everything but don’t feel like you need be a know it all (that’s nuanced…. but important). Don’t gatekeep tips or tools that would help out fellow crew members. I think that the first and last points are the most important. It’s a team sport and we all need to be here for each other!

We are in in this together. I’ve found that the more collaborative a set is the better the deliverables look in the end.

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