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Photo Retouching "Improving" photos, post-production, correction, etc.

Master Retoucher

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  #71  
Old 09-12-2007, 11:01 PM
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SteveB2005 SteveB2005 is offline
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Re: Master Retoucher

I wanted to add a few things about getting into the high end retouching world. The only way I could even be interviewed and tested by a big production pre-press house was by a referral and direct phone call to the shift manager. A contact I had in pre=press had seen some of my work, felt I might be ready, tried to set me up with some mock up tests in Quark, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Two of his contacts he referred who had been in the trade for years both flunked the test, even though they had worked in several shops for decades.

First, he scared the living daylights outta me on what he thought would be on the tests. So I prepared for a month or so in my free time. Finally it was test day, so the manager interviewed me and led me into the dark huge production studio with a hundred Macs all over the place, sat me down and then sent over one of his top ladies to also scare the daylights outta me, breafing me on what they wanted me to do and gave me 90 minutes to do it. Basically they gave me this insane "defective" file to make it press ready, mask, color correct, retouch, precise selections, tweak it in Illustrator and Photoshop, then send it into Quark and make sure it would RIP ok. I thought I did alright, finished up and the manager said to call him the next day for my results. I shook in my boots, called him the next late afternoon, and the man went over the test with me on the phone. he told me I did above average, better than some that he had come in that week, but not 100% required to get hired. He also said he couldn't take the time to train an 85-90% "there" guy, so that was that. I heard he finally hired someone already between shops who passed the tests.

I felt I was "trainable", but this shop was a doozey to get into, even with guys already in the trade and some of them couldn't even cut it.

steve
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  #72  
Old 09-13-2007, 01:47 AM
ftp-Jeff ftp-Jeff is offline
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Re: Master Retoucher

I have been retouching since 1973...... A lot of you guys are calling yourselves " master retouchers" Then you go on about using Quark and other page makeup programs..... Then one guy goes for a "test" for a job.

SOMETIMES I DESPAIR!! I'll be glad to get out of this trade, and get back to my airbrushing. You lot are welcome to this, what is now a shitty trade. Not an art form anymore.
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  #73  
Old 09-13-2007, 07:37 AM
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cricket1961 cricket1961 is offline
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Re: Master Retoucher

FTP-Jeff

You sound a bit bitter there and a little discouraged.
While I have been retouching "only" about 10 years less than you, it does not mean that it makes us obsolete. I know nearly nothing about quark or indesign or illustrator. I have had my ups and downs in this trade.
But you know what? It wasn't even a trade I wanted to get into. I started college out with years of private drawing and painting instruction under my belt. I paid for my first two (and nearly only two) years of college as a commercial art major by selling stuff I had done while in high school. Only to be told after two years in college that I had no talent and should think of another career. So I became a acting (yes I was the FIRST Tarantino in the acting business, not my cousin or that other Chris Tarantino) and a dance major. I had been a professional Saxophone player from the age of 15 and anything to do with the arts were my first love. But I was well rounded, also being a great athlete having had martial art instruction from the age of 5, 12 years of soccer, 12 years of wrestling , including trying out for and making the 1980 Olympic wrestling team only to break my neck in the final cuts. I then got out of the arts and made a living on 3rd shift as a plastics extrusion operator. Somehow I met someone who needed a place to live, but didn't want to move in with me because I had stairs and she had a older dog. So I moved in with her and she taught me in 10 minutes how to do a hand-toned cromalin. From there I learned how to wet etch, then dry etch, then scan, then self taught photoshop. HTe ONLY thing I know well, besides my music and art, is Photoshop. And lucky for me people noticed.
My first big job out of the prepress world was for a company called Brann, who called me out of the blue. They were at the time even bigger then Grey Advertising. They wanted someone to handle all of their Connecticut based advertising retouching and color management. I knew nothing about retouching for advertising because I am creative only when I am putzing around, but I knew color management having worked with Apple to develop colorsync. A year later IBM, their largest client decided that they were going to clean house with their advertisers. They tossed out the best shop and the worst shop. Brann was their best and I got laid off along with 95% of some immensely talented individuals, most of whom went on to work for Tracey-Locke. Me? Unemployed with a house a wife who doesn't work at a outside job and three little boys. Tow months of shitting bricks on what to do. Couldn't go back to prepress. got to used to the better money and hours.
All of a sudden I get home one day and some nutcase left a message on my machine. "I am calling from a hi end retouching shop in NYC and we would like to hire you.By the way your phone number is wrong on your resume so we had to hunt you down"
I had never sent out resumes so who knows where he got that one. So I bundled up(it was the middle of February) and hopped on the train and walked from 42nd down to w21st and entered into what I thought was the dirtiest and ugliest retouching house there could ever be (by the way, the commute for that was 2.5 hours each way). I sat down and did his test in about 2 hours and ten talked to him for about a half hour. I had never done hi end beauty work before so I can imagine what it looked like to him. I never heard from him for two months again. Then he called and wanted me to start the next week.
As it turns out my test was"So Bad" that they had to do it all over because the shop never does sharpening and I had done some sharpening.
But I had the job, and a year later I was teaching this leading retouching shop how to do beauty retouching and other hi end photoshop manipulations using parts of photoshop hey had never touched. That was ColorEdge when it was still good and I lasted 5.5 years. I think that most of you know my history form here.
My point is I never reached out to anyone for a job, but got in. And I have never considered or called myself a master retoucher. Heck I would rather be doing my music over anything else. Not that I don't love what I do!
But perseverance and a willingness to learn will get you more than a recommendation into a shop. Even if you get that recommendation you still need to show you can do it. And knowing all the technical aspects of Photoshop isn't enough for some shops to hire you. But doing you work in a way that shows that there will be minimal training needed helps. And the only way that is going to happen is if you show some good aesthetics in your work so that even if the work is poorly done at least they can see where you were going with it. Someone who is excellent at retouching is a harder buy than some one who has a good eye because it is harder to "retrain" them to that shops way of doing things.

Damn, I didn't mean to ramble. Is the retouching scene difficult to get into? Yes it can be. Is it easier to get into if you know someone? Isn't that true of every business? Is it a shitty trade, as FTP-Jeff states? No not at all. But it is most certainly still an art form, and just because we use computers now instead of airbrushes doesn't make it any less so. It is just another tool in your arsenal.

More about me than most wanted to know I am sure, and there is a lot left out about this business. But that is better left to another time.

Stick with it people. It is only going to get as good as you let it.

Chris
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  #74  
Old 09-13-2007, 09:26 AM
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SteveB2005 SteveB2005 is offline
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Thumbs up Re: Master Retoucher

Quote:
Originally Posted by ftp-Jeff View Post
I have been retouching since 1973...... A lot of you guys are calling yourselves " master retouchers" Then you go on about using Quark and other page makeup programs..... Then one guy goes for a "test" for a job.

SOMETIMES I DESPAIR!! I'll be glad to get out of this trade, and get back to my airbrushing. You lot are welcome to this, what is now a shitty trade. Not an art form anymore.
Yes believe it or not, in the Los Angeles pre-press and art houses, they do in fact test you. And many of them expect you to do additional tasks even if your title is junior retoucher. I know several high end guys that took a bit of time to break in and places would invest in their training.

In smaller houses, the retouchers may have to Photoshop the files, run an image setter, know Quark/InDesign, etc. Now this isn't always the case in bigger shops where they have an "assembly line" workflow with specific jobs. Sometimes shop expect an awful lot of skill for low pay, but there are always exceptions

Don't let our experiences discourage you though, many variables about this trade

steve
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  #75  
Old 09-13-2007, 10:15 AM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: Master Retoucher

Quote:
Originally Posted by ftp-Jeff View Post
I have been retouching since 1973...... A lot of you guys are calling yourselves " master retouchers" Then you go on about using Quark and other page makeup programs..... Then one guy goes for a "test" for a job.

SOMETIMES I DESPAIR!! I'll be glad to get out of this trade, and get back to my airbrushing. You lot are welcome to this, what is now a shitty trade. Not an art form anymore.
it won't be long before the ad agencies move some of the pre-press work in-house, it's already starting to happen in Chicago....that should give an advantage to some of the people with an art background such as yourself, but even the agencies sometimes post a "must know everything ad"...
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  #76  
Old 09-13-2007, 12:09 PM
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Re: Master Retoucher

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Originally Posted by cricket1961 View Post
FTP-Jeff

You sound a bit bitter there and a little discouraged.
While I have been retouching "only" about 10 years less than you, it does not mean that it makes us obsolete. I know nearly nothing about quark or indesign or illustrator. I have had my ups and downs in this trade.
But you know what? It wasn't even a trade I wanted to get into. I started college out with years of private drawing and painting instruction under my belt. I paid for my first two (and nearly only two) years of college as a commercial art major by selling stuff I had done while in high school. Only to be told after two years in college that I had no talent and should think of another career. So I became a acting (yes I was the FIRST Tarantino in the acting business, not my cousin or that other Chris Tarantino) and a dance major. I had been a professional Saxophone player from the age of 15 and anything to do with the arts were my first love. But I was well rounded, also being a great athlete having had martial art instruction from the age of 5, 12 years of soccer, 12 years of wrestling , including trying out for and making the 1980 Olympic wrestling team only to break my neck in the final cuts. I then got out of the arts and made a living on 3rd shift as a plastics extrusion operator. Somehow I met someone who needed a place to live, but didn't want to move in with me because I had stairs and she had a older dog. So I moved in with her and she taught me in 10 minutes how to do a hand-toned cromalin. From there I learned how to wet etch, then dry etch, then scan, then self taught photoshop. HTe ONLY thing I know well, besides my music and art, is Photoshop. And lucky for me people noticed.
My first big job out of the prepress world was for a company called Brann, who called me out of the blue. They were at the time even bigger then Grey Advertising. They wanted someone to handle all of their Connecticut based advertising retouching and color management. I knew nothing about retouching for advertising because I am creative only when I am putzing around, but I knew color management having worked with Apple to develop colorsync. A year later IBM, their largest client decided that they were going to clean house with their advertisers. They tossed out the best shop and the worst shop. Brann was their best and I got laid off along with 95% of some immensely talented individuals, most of whom went on to work for Tracey-Locke. Me? Unemployed with a house a wife who doesn't work at a outside job and three little boys. Tow months of shitting bricks on what to do. Couldn't go back to prepress. got to used to the better money and hours.
All of a sudden I get home one day and some nutcase left a message on my machine. "I am calling from a hi end retouching shop in NYC and we would like to hire you.By the way your phone number is wrong on your resume so we had to hunt you down"
I had never sent out resumes so who knows where he got that one. So I bundled up(it was the middle of February) and hopped on the train and walked from 42nd down to w21st and entered into what I thought was the dirtiest and ugliest retouching house there could ever be (by the way, the commute for that was 2.5 hours each way). I sat down and did his test in about 2 hours and ten talked to him for about a half hour. I had never done hi end beauty work before so I can imagine what it looked like to him. I never heard from him for two months again. Then he called and wanted me to start the next week.
As it turns out my test was"So Bad" that they had to do it all over because the shop never does sharpening and I had done some sharpening.
But I had the job, and a year later I was teaching this leading retouching shop how to do beauty retouching and other hi end photoshop manipulations using parts of photoshop hey had never touched. That was ColorEdge when it was still good and I lasted 5.5 years. I think that most of you know my history form here.
My point is I never reached out to anyone for a job, but got in. And I have never considered or called myself a master retoucher. Heck I would rather be doing my music over anything else. Not that I don't love what I do!
But perseverance and a willingness to learn will get you more than a recommendation into a shop. Even if you get that recommendation you still need to show you can do it. And knowing all the technical aspects of Photoshop isn't enough for some shops to hire you. But doing you work in a way that shows that there will be minimal training needed helps. And the only way that is going to happen is if you show some good aesthetics in your work so that even if the work is poorly done at least they can see where you were going with it. Someone who is excellent at retouching is a harder buy than some one who has a good eye because it is harder to "retrain" them to that shops way of doing things.

Damn, I didn't mean to ramble. Is the retouching scene difficult to get into? Yes it can be. Is it easier to get into if you know someone? Isn't that true of every business? Is it a shitty trade, as FTP-Jeff states? No not at all. But it is most certainly still an art form, and just because we use computers now instead of airbrushes doesn't make it any less so. It is just another tool in your arsenal.

More about me than most wanted to know I am sure, and there is a lot left out about this business. But that is better left to another time.

Stick with it people. It is only going to get as good as you let it.

Chris
That's a long...and inspiring story, Chris. I knew that the day I received my BFA was the day that I started learning. Looking forward to your class in Vegas.
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  #77  
Old 09-13-2007, 12:19 PM
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Re: Master Retoucher

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveB2005 View Post
Sometimes shop expect an awful lot of skill for low pay, but there are always exceptions

steve
Unfortunately, many retouchers in L.A including myself are on that boat. I gave up living on the westside and moved inland for some alleviation on the rent.
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  #78  
Old 09-26-2007, 05:21 AM
ftp-Jeff ftp-Jeff is offline
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Re: Master Retoucher

Just got back from a 8 week vacation.... So I missed all this! Yeah, I am pretty disillusioned with retouching right now! But if that is what you want to get into... go for it. Never thought of teaching people before! S'pose I could do that?

NAH!...


Anyone want to buy a company here in the UK?


Jeff
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  #79  
Old 09-26-2007, 05:49 AM
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superkoax superkoax is offline
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Re: Master Retoucher

CHRIS: Thanks for your story here! It's nice to get a picture from peoples past experience!


Gerry
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  #80  
Old 09-26-2007, 08:12 AM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: Master Retoucher

Quote:
Originally Posted by ftp-Jeff View Post
Just got back from a 8 week vacation.... So I missed all this! Yeah, I am pretty disillusioned with retouching right now! But if that is what you want to get into... go for it. Never thought of teaching people before! S'pose I could do that?

NAH!...


Anyone want to buy a company here in the UK?


Jeff
i have a hard time getting back to work after a 2 week vacation, and you've increased that by a factor of 4....welcome back, where did you go btw?
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