The age-old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is more relevant today than ever, with deregulation, zero hours contracts, outsourcing and competition from emerging markets pushing prices for services lower and lower.

Professional photographer Irene Rudnyk decided to investigate what this means for her industry, by logging onto popular freelance services website Fiverr. The community is useful for entrepreneurs who want to build the business on a budget, as well as freelancers looking to build experience and a solid portfolio. However the level of competition for retouchers is incredibly high, leading to some people offering their services for as little as $0.25.

“I had heard people mention Fiverr a lot on YouTube so I was really intrigued by the website,” Irene told Bored Panda. “When I realized that a lot of people on there offered retouching services I knew I had to try it out. It seems too good to be true because most people were charging very little for the retouch and almost everyone had five star ratings.”

“For me, retouching is very important,” she told us. “I like to photograph fantasy-like images, so I need to bring the fantasy-like element to them in Photoshop. I also have a very specific editing style that makes my images recognizable. And that is very important nowadays. Distinguishing yourself from ton of other photographers.”

Irene tested out 3 retouchers at different price points: $0.25, $5 and $10 to see what kind of results they would come up with. She gave them each an unedited picture along with this request: “I would like if you made this image very vibrant, warm. Clean skin, bright eyes, and make her hair look more red, so it matches the background. Also, I trust your judgment on making this image look beautiful.” 

The results were.. interesting. There was a clear jump in quality as the price point went up, as the wise old saying foretells. Irene doesn’t think much of the website as a source for quality work, and wouldn’t recommend it for other photographers looking for retouching services. “I am a perfectionist and it’s usually very hard for me to trust someone else with my Creative Vision,” she explained, while adding why she thinks that editing is an important aspect of photography. “I think most people tend to want to create something rather than just document the mundane everyday life. We like to look and admire extraordinary things that are beautiful, and editing help us create that and get closer to that Creative Vision.”

So while cheaper freelance help can have its benefits, there are definitely drawbacks too, particularly for the professional photographer. However it was certainly an interesting and eye-opening experiment! You can check it  out yourself by scrolling down the page, and let us know what you think in the comments!

This is Irene Rudnyk, a professional photographer from Canada. She always edits her own pics but she decided to experiment with the cheap freelance services on offer

She went to freelance website ‘Fiverr’ and found retouchers at 3 different price points. She sent them this unedited picture with the same request description

The $0.25 Retouching Job

The $5 Retouching Job

The $10 Retouching Job

Rudnyk’s Edit

She reviews of all the edits in an eye-opening video

Here’s what people had to say