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Is it Time to Hire a Retoucher?

Is it Time to Hire a Retoucher? | Tracy Lynn Coaching | See more at

Is It Time to Hire a Retoucher in Your Boudoir Photography Business? 

Do you feel overwhelmed whenever you realize how many photos you need to retouch for your boudoir clients? I get it!

Retouching doesn’t seem so bad at first, but once you’ve been doing it for a while in one sitting, it can get tedious. But it’s something all photographers must do, so today, I’m sharing my secret retouching strategies that will save you crazy amounts of headaches and time! 

You’ll see how to do retouching on your own, and how to know when it’s time to hire a retoucher — and ensure they nail it every time. 

Are you ready to make this 10x easier so you can focus on other things in your boudoir biz (like scaling)? Then let’s dive in! 


If You Want to Do the Retouching on Your Own…

The first thing you want to do is wait to retouch until after your clients have purchased their photos. If my experience has taught me anything, it’s that retouching every single photo before the in-person sale session is a waste of time. 

If a client doesn’t purchase all of the images, there’s no need to put yourself through more work. Retouching only what they order will save you so much time and headache!

You can color-correct your images IF you want, but I don’t think this is necessary.

If You Think It May Be Time to Hire a Retoucher…

Repeat after me, “There’s nothing wrong with passing the plate to someone else.”

You’re running a business AND photographing. On top of that, I’m doing everything in between. If you can pass off part of the process to someone else, why not do it? It doesn’t make you a bad business owner or even a bad photographer — it just means you’re working smarter

I decided to start outsourcing retouching in 2018 when I noticed the amount of time I was spending on it. Tracking that made me realize I could devote that chunk of time to something that would help me grow my business instead of staying stuck in the weeds. 

But how do you know if you’re at the point where you’re ready to hire a retoucher?

The easy answer is when you can’t keep up with the work in your queue or deliver in a timely manner. But you also need to make sure your cost of sales (COS) is at a healthy level to support it.


Your COS should be under 25% of your total revenue. The difference between your COS and your revenue is your profit margin. If you want to know your profit margin, add up your total revenue for the month, PLUS your cost of sales, which is everything that goes into creating the product:

  • Your photography lab expenses (for printing)
  • Hiring a hair and makeup artist 
  • Hiring an associate photographer or session assistant
  • Travel to and from the session
  • Any client gifts or add-ons for a session (new props, etc.)
  • Literally ANYTHING ELSE that may go into the actual cost of photographing your sessions

Then, divide COS by your total revenue. You’ll be able to see if your COS is under that healthy 25%. 

Example: Your COS is $2,000, and you bring in $9,000 in total revenue. This means you have a 22% COS, so you would have room in your budget to hire!

If your COS cannot support a hire, it may be time for a price increase

How to Find the Right Retoucher

So, let’s say you’re ready to hire a retoucher. How do you find one? 

For me, I honestly just got lucky, because she happened to reach out to me on the right day. I was behind on retouching and struggling to keep up. It felt like a never-ending queue of sessions, and I would never get a break.

A good problem to have, but one I still didn’t want. 

So when she reached out, it was the right day. We scheduled a call, got to know each other, and have worked together ever since.

BUT if I were looking for a retoucher today, I would head to Instagram to search!

Be Confident Handing Off Your Photos

Now, you may be nervous about handing off your photos for retouching. 

I get it. This is your art. I was scared at first, for sure! But I’m going to give you some insight I’ve learned that I think will help…

First, you’re a photographer, not a retoucher. Your time is better spent photographing clients. You’re also a business owner, which means your time is also better spent doing business owner things. 

And two, your retoucher does this for a living. If you find the right person, they should be good at what they do. And no, your clients aren’t going to notice the switch. They don’t see those little things like you do.

You’re invested in your work; your clients are invested in getting a great photo! So as long as the retoucher does a good job and understands your style (it’s super important that they do, by the way), breathe. It’s going to be fine!

Is It Time to Hire an Associate Photographer? 

So now that you have some working knowledge about whether or not it’s time to hire a retoucher…you can apply the same logic to hiring an associate photographer!

But it’s about more than the money. If you feel like it’s time to make the leap of faith, check out the video below! You’ll get all my best tips for knowing if you’re ready and how to find the right person if you are. 


Tracy Lynn is a boudoir photogapher for brides-to-be in the St. Louis area, and a mentor + coach for photographers looking to level up their businesses with better systems and processes.


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