Photographer Tests Out Some of Fiverr's Retouchers, and the Results Are Hilarious

Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer are all companies that make creatives shudder as they lament the race to the bottom of the pricing market. But, when some photographers find that they've bitten off more than they can chew, are sites like Fiverr a realistic option to get some help with editing?

When starting out as a professional photographer or if one wants to earn a bit of extra cash on the side with their passion, these sites seem like a good idea. Their biggest problem, however, is the sheer volume of like-minded individuals. It's very difficult to land the first client in that sea of what seems like desperation. I should know, I've tried! Admittedly, I didn't put a whole pile of effort into it, because I just couldn't compete with the low prices of other retouchers from countries like India or Indonesia. 

At first, I saw it as a fantastic economic equalizer for people in developing nations, but after reading this article in The Atlantic, I'm not so sure. However, if you can offer better quality and your copywriting is on point, then there is money to be made, because if this latest video by Irene Rudnyk is anything to go by, then the competition isn't as strong as it initially appears to be.

Here is the other side of the coin. Sometimes in this industry, one can go from a drought to a flood of work in a matter of days. It's important to take as much of it as you can, but there's a fine line between optimizing your workload and becoming overburdened. This is where these marketplace sites can come in handy. Being able to let go of some creative control, is another story altogether.  

As Rudnyk explains in the video, she has never before let someone else edit her images. She is understandably excited, and it's a great idea for a YouTube video. I don't think I've ever seen another YouTube photographer try this before, so I was interested to see the results myself, especially as Rudnyk has a distinct, naturalistic yet fairytale style. The conclusion? A mixture of meh and yikes. Watch the video to find out what I mean.

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Alex Cooke's picture

While I wouldn't hire a retoucher on Fiverr, I did once hire a puppeteer there to read a script about why my horse is better than my sister's. Best $5 I've ever spent.

Deleted Account's picture

Well?? Don't leave us hanging! Why is your horse better than your sister's?

Alex Cooke's picture

I’ll let Professor Hans von Puppet explain:

Mike O'Leary's picture

This is why the internet was invented.

Simon Patterson's picture

Oh that is comedy gold! I'll keep that in mind for future opportunities!

Adam T's picture

Yeah, this wins the page.

Now I'm thinking about fiverr to see what stupid pranks I can play on people

Deleted Account's picture

Sadly, the original photo wasn't very good to begin with. Her edit was easily the best, but hard to judge on its own merit due to the scale at which it was presented, but I wonder how long she worked on it vs. the various retouchers.

Cherokee Lair's picture

Beyond frightening.

yanpekar's picture

What is the point in comparing cheap options? Just to say “I did a better job than them. All of them are rubbish and I am the best one”?.
What is the point in criticising colleagues and making it public? Most of those who provide their service at low prices are new starters, and there was a day when an experienced photographer was a beginner amateur. How would you feel if someone would criticise publicly your photos you took as a complete beginner? Yes, it is obvious that on some platforms like Fiverr there will be people providing cheap and unprofessional service, and it is clear that they should not provide a paid service if they are not able to deliver professional results. But if you care about photos that you deliver to your clients as a final version of a product, would you delegate retouching to a cheap service provider in the first place?

Motti Bembaron's picture

I agree with you regarding making the ID of the retouchers public. I think it was unnecessary. However, I believe the exercise was genuine on her part and was not to mock or laugh at anyone.

Many photographers, me included, from time to time, toy with the idea of hiring a reoucher. Wondering if someone can do a better job and relieve us from tedious work of retouching. I personally love the post edit work and well, I am also cheap :-).

If the results were good than it would be a great opportunity for others to join in.

I think it is important to keep identities secret and keep video like those a concept video and not a "let's have a laugh" video. Like you said, we all started somewhere.


yanpekar's picture

Agreed. We all started somewhere. I do not feel that it is fair to pick a few cheap "new starters" providers and make laugh of them and make it public. Most of amateur photographers who just start offering their services professionally do it at low prices, and in some cases, quality of their work is quite low. Does it give more experienced photographers the right or opportunity to criticise them publicly? You get what you pay for, and in most cases cheap services is associated with cheap quality. If it is already obvious then why to make it public and shame these people? Would the author of the video feel comfortable if pro photographers would criticise publicly and make laugh of her images that she created when she just started? Watching the video, the message I was getting was "I am the best one, and you are all rubbish"...

Irene Rudnyk's picture

did you even watch the video? All 3 editors had 5 start reviews and two of them were top selling on Fiverr. I expected the 5 start job , which i didn't get. If any of them felt like they couldn't finish the job, they had the opportunity to decline my order.
How would i feel if someone criticized me? dude, i get criticized every single day lol that's what happens when you put yourself out there on the internet. May i add that i wasn't even that harsh with my critique of these edits, they were truly bad, and were not worth the money they were asking for.

yanpekar's picture

I am sorry to hear you get criticised every single day. I believe we are grown ups to know by now that there is a variety of opinions - what is acceptable for one is not acceptable for another one. And today most people are ok with average results. For this reason, I would not trust "5 star reviews". Being a top seller does not always mean "producing high quality results". Yes, I did watch the video, and could not help but feel that the message was "you are rubbish, and I am the best". By the way, I would not call "dude" a person you have not met before, it's a bit rude. It would be much more valuable to many of us if you would find a great retoucher and write a review of how their work would be beneficial for us, comparing to publicly criticising a cheap service provider as it is already obvious that we can't expect a high quality results from.

Motti Bembaron's picture

You have a point, however, the video would be as effective if the ID of those people would not be mentioned. You did great testing them with a simple photo and NONE really delivered (in my opinion).

I see this video as more about what happens when you choose a cheap option then specific vendors. You could mention that they are rated as five stars so we would know not to trust those ratings.

We are all being criticized from time to time of course. You were not mean or tried to mock them, you were fair in your assessments. But, still, I feel for those who just start and really try.

It seems the first one and the worst one, put more work than the other two. Full credit for effort.


Lee Christiansen's picture

If someone is providing a service for which they charge, then it is a professional service. This was a review on a selection of professional services - just like we'd expect a review on TV's cleaning or taxi services and it is fair to name the paid suppliers.

Pros wouldn't go to cheap services (I hope), but I get emails all the time from cheap services offering retouching.

Joe public is always looking for a bargain and needs educating on the differences. I charge between £50-£70 for an average headshot retouch which some clients think is a lot, and I'll bet some would be tempted by a $5 retoucher, (my contract says they can't).

This video simply gives us background info on the cheaper competition that we can pass on.

David T's picture

Natascha Lindemann uses cheap retouchers and they are pretty good.

Motti Bembaron's picture

When you opened the first image I honestly thought is was a joke. What a disaster.

For the second image, you said it was not bad however, as you mentioned the model face is unrealistically flat and smooth. Your lighting had depth, the retoucher took it all off.

he third one was OK but her skin looks like fake tan you get from those machines.

Your retouch work emphasizes her bone structure (and hers is quite unique) and depth to her face in general.

Thank you for making the video, great lesson to all of us. I also never hired any outside retouchers for exactly the two reasons you did not :-).

I personally would not recommend these services to hobbyists and armatures. I strongly believe hobbyists should work on their own retouching and editing skills, it is essential to a photographer as a good lens.

Radoslav Katanik's picture

Hard to believe that 1st edit is legit. Most probably we are being manipulated for entertainment purposes.

Irene Rudnyk's picture

trust me, I was shocked when i opened it. My guess that someone either trolled me or maybe it was someone really young? i really don't have an explanation for that edit lol.

yanpekar's picture

Irene, some (if not most) pro photographers would be shocked if they would see the photos created when we started. We all started somewhere. Becoming more professional does not give us the right to criticise our "new starters" colleagues (which is always a bad practice anyway) publicly. It is clear that in most cases cheap service means cheap quality. If it is so obvious, what is the point in criticising those people publicly? Just to show that "I am the best, and you are all rubbish"? Sorry but this was the message I got when I watched your video. There are more professional people than we are, and our work may seem rubbish to them. Does it give them the right to criticise us publicly? How would you feel if a pro photographer would criticise publicly (and ruin or harm your career in the process) your photos you created when you just started?

Irene Rudnyk's picture

I bought a service on a public website and I am giving it my review, just a video form.

yanpekar's picture

This is fully understandable. Maybe your level of expectations is too high, expecting a full high end retouch from a cheap service provider is probably unrealistic. One of the questions is - would you feel comfortable if a more experienced photographer then you are would criticise and shame you publicly? I am not expecting any answer, it is a question you may consider asking yourself before criticising your colleagues (or anyone) publicly. All the best.

Irene Rudnyk's picture

If someone is putting up their services for sale, they should expect a review and a critique from a client. Case closed.

yanpekar's picture

It does not give other person the right to be disrespectful and publicly criticise people who just started offering their services. Look at the first photos which you charged for, and the photos you create now. You can't expect a high quality results from a low cost service. "Expect less and you will be less disappointed". It would be much more valuable to many of us if you would find a great retoucher and write a review of how their work would be beneficial for us, comparing to publicly criticising a cheap service provider as it is already obvious that we can't expect a high quality results from.

Mike O'Leary's picture

Yan, these people were charging for a service. As a client, Irene is completely justified in her criticism. It doesn't matter how much they are charging. They are effectively running a business. Yes, we are all pretty bad when we start out, but I didn't charge people when I had no idea what I was doing.

Imagine hiring a brick layer or a plasterer to do a job on your house. If they botch the job and mess up your new extension, are you going to just let them off because they didn't charge you much? At the very least, you should expect something reasonable. A simple contrast adjustment would have been fine, especially compared to what was delivered. It would have taken less than a minute, and that would have made sense in context of the low charge.

Roberto Adrian Sanchez's picture

First retouching must be a cruel joke, he/ she turned that female model into a man with a wig.

Dan Lubbers's picture

She expects a full retouch for $13 to be perfect, really? IMO you do not get perfection for the low low cost of $13 for a full image retouch. What she got was exactly what you would expect for a $13 image. The first image, should obviously be reimbursed.

Irene Rudnyk's picture

The image i provided didn't need that much retouch, 10-15 min tops, The model already had great skin (skin tends to be the most time consuming)So i thought $10 for 10 min is actually not bad for someone that freelances on Fiverr.

Doug Stringham's picture

I agree... it looked like a fairly straightforward retouch.