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Greetings from NYC

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  #1  
Old 02-13-2008, 10:25 AM
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abenormal abenormal is offline
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Greetings from NYC

Hi everyone. This is my first post here but I've been lurking around for a few weeks. This looks like a great bunch of people!

I've been working as a full time retoucher for a little over 4 years, before that I did it freelance along with building mechanicals, comping, etc. If you read magazines or drive past billboards you've probably seen my work. I've done ads for Johnson and Johnson, GMC, Electrolux, Nokia, Snuggle, and many more. I got laid off January 1st when the company I worked for was dissolved by the parent agency (StudioPSD was the company, Lowe New York is the agency), so I'm currently looking for work. I have my portfolio together in a book and as a PDF, but I haven't put it online. If prospective employers ask for it online I post a PDF with a password just for them. Am I being too paranoid? I'm not really worried about being sued by a photographer or a celebrity, I am a little worried about having my images "appropriated" by internet dwellers (not by anyone here though!), but mainly I want to be courteous to the photographers whose work I've handled.

I do have a small online gallery of work that I did start to finish, both the photography and the retouching, that I can show you. It was work for hire so I don't technically hold the copyright but at least I don't need to worry about the photographer stumbling across it and suing me. Since I put this together to promote photo services within the agency I didn't show the befores. Also, the contact info is obsolete. The J and J stuff was shot/retouched to match the look and feel of the existing campaigns, the deodorant was supposed to look "bad" since it was representing the competition, and the Snuggle stuff was a look I developed working with the art director.

http://www.abenormal.com/Photography/

Well, I suppose that's more than enough of an introduction. Now that I've made my 1st post I'll try to take part in some of the fun stuff.
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Old 02-13-2008, 04:28 PM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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Re: Greetings from NYC

Hi Abe...

Welcome to RP. Your product shots are very impressive. I hope folks check out your link. This type of work takes considerable skill.

When it comes to a multiple product shot, what influence does the photographer have on what products go where (left to right, front/back) or are those types of decisions pretty much at the discretion of the ad agency or...???
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Old 02-13-2008, 06:00 PM
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abenormal abenormal is offline
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Re: Greetings from NYC

Quote:
Welcome to RetouchPRO. Your product shots are very impressive. I hope folks check out your link. This type of work takes considerable skill.
Thanks, that's nice to hear. I'm really not a photographer, I picked it up about a year and a half ago as an aid to retouching and I'm still trying to learn as much as I can. After I fixed a few problem images and gained some confidence, and seeing how bad some of the photography was that came in from outside, I started pushing to offer a digital imaging service through our retouching department. I feel I was lucky to get to do the shoots that I did before the company folded.

Quote:
When it comes to a multiple product shot, what influence does the photographer have on what products go where (left to right, front/back) or are those types of decisions pretty much at the discretion of the ad agency or...???
Hmm. The client has final say, but the art director comes up with the idea and drives the creation of the images. The art director will have to please the client, but the photographer (and moreso the retoucher) will have to please the AD. Some ADs know what they want, some rely more heavily on input from people they are working with. A lot of time they will choose a photographer because they want that photographer's signature look, then the client will balk and it will come into retouching to have that signature look eradicated.

In the Snuggle example on my site the blue bottle was designated the "hero" by the client and was going to be front/center for every shot it was in. Other than that it was up to the art director, but she only had vague ideas when I started shooting. The art director brought me some reference scrap, mostly product shots she thought were bad to serve as a guide what not to do, then we played around a bit in the (makeshift) studio I had set up. She did some sketches of possible arrangements and I did a round of test shots including a variety of arrangements. I edited, she looked at the ones I chose and said, "I like the boxes in this one, the bottles in this one are close, this arrangement is too wide, the bear needs to show more on the boxes..." etc. I set things up more carefully for the chosen arrangements and did the "real" shots, this time with a round of retouching before showing her

Being a retoucher and not a photographer I wasn't even going to try to get everything "in camera" in one shot, so even my first round shot of the hero bottle was a composite. That way I could deal with shadow and reflection problems without driving myself insane trying to light it. The highlight on the bottle is one shot, the label is another, the area under the handle a third, all shot with the camera and product in place and just moving the lights to emphasize different areas. Obvious problems like plastic burrs and label imperfections needed to be removed this round as well.

The big family shot is composite of about 10 or 12 shots, the bottle labels are shot separately so they can show through the handle holes without shadows or reflections, the holding shadows are mostly fake, the bottles are masked layer sets so they could be color corrected individually and fine tuned for position. The boxes were prototype packages so they had to be straightened and cleaned up, but they reflect into each other a lot more clearly so they had to have some shots close to their final position.

After about a day and a half of shooting and a half day of retouching and I'm "done" and the AD sees them and has comments and I do another round of retouching, a few more comments, another round of retouching to address those comments, etc. In this case I think I was done in maybe 3 rounds after the first showing, actually a lot faster than usual. Start to finish we were done in 3 or 4 days, including solo shots of all the products that didn't get more than their RAW settings tweaked and minimal retouching like minor straightening and a clipping path.
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Old 02-13-2008, 08:58 PM
smak smak is offline
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Re: Greetings from NYC

Nice colors and processing on all, especially the Snuggles. The auto-moving to the next image, though, kept me from looking at the images for too long.
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Old 02-16-2008, 08:12 AM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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Re: Greetings from NYC

Facinating...

It's extremely interesting to read about the ins/outs and experiences from a pro's perspecive. Thanks, Abe, for sharing your insights. They made me appreciate even more the folks who earn their living doing this sort of work.
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