My description might seem a bit abstract at this point, but I'm positive with enough initial interest that part would grow at least as fast as RP already has.
Just think "professional" (meaning in the business of retouching) when imagining potential features. This is not to be elitist, but rather to have features of tangible value to those who need them but no interest for those who restore or retouch for a hobby. New features of general interest would be made available to everyone.
I've already mentioned the competitions which would provide professional credibility to a website or brochure. Other potential services might be a professional directory where a client could find a retoucher close to them (or based on other criteria). Once a base was built up I could also see public-awareness activities to promote restoration and retouching in general.
Doug - I think I've said this privately before - a RetouchPro Association (open to all who want to aspire to be better at this) complete with ID card - a sign for your wall or portfolio and a low cost "fee" for joining and a coffee mug could solve the money problem. Braggin rights included! :-)
Langa lists and others use a system of perks that are nothing more than site blocking to some portions of the site - in this case you might want to limit the challenges or the Salon to members only, etc. etc. take your pick.
One that I think is a bad idea is "a RetouchPRO Certification of some sort" . That is tearing apart groups like the AIC (Amer Institute of Conservators) - simple reason is who is qualified to judge and who elected them as God? Some of us in that group have felt that our reputation with big name clients should carry as much weight as the opinion of someone that lands a job as a professor in a big name Eastern College. Many simply stopped supporting them. "Certification" in this case created the idea (right or wrong) that the real interest is in cutting people out. Creating an exclusive insiders circle (for purposes of obtaining grants?) rather than having a true association of professionals. I think you get the idea - "judging qualifications" can turn into an explosive issue and create hard feelings that cuts off the money rather than helping in any way.
If you go way way back - to the roots of the Photographer's Association (PAofA) with Charles Abel, it was much like this group only it centered around a magazine instead of a web site but he welcomed contributions from all and as he grew, paid a few cents to pro writers to compensate them for their time and brought the group up with an "educational approach" much the same as you are doing today.
My suggestion - start Association Membership at $30 to 40 bucks a year - only reason for doing so is that would put you in the same range as low cost software and most others offering - so the question is, if you could get $39.50 a year from about 60% of the people here - how far would that go toward solving the problem of financing the present site and giving you money to grow it? Apply for non-profit status then you too can qualify for bigger donations!
Timemark Photo Conservators
A Very Senior member!!!
(should be Gold stars after the Senior classification when you pass 75)
I missed all of this as the discussion happened while I was on vacation.
In my case, I donate to RP. I made my first donation fairly shortly after I'd joined, had used some of the techniques, posted to a couple of the challenges, and thought "this place is great". I've made other donations since then.
Had your sponsorship scheme been in place I wouldn't have donated anything. I would have got here, used some of the techniques, posted to a couple of the challenges, thought "this place is great", checked out the sponsorship benefits and decided that they weren't things I was bothered about -- and because you had the sponsorship system wouldn't have felt any obligation to donate money either. Also I have a twitchy reaction to "paid for" sites and virtually never take out a paid membership, while I have donated to several.
Is the amount of money you'd get in in sponsorship payments actually more than the amount you'd lose from people like me (I can't be the only one who thinks that way, surely)? My gut feeling, at the moment, is "no".
just some thoughts
since the majority of people who use this site work with adobe photoshop...would it be an idea to contact them and see what kind of support you can get?
I think if adobe knew what kind of high quality work goes into this site maybe they can sponsor us?
another idea that came in mind is to invite some high profile companies to post some photographs that need retouched, manipulated etc.
let all take a crack at it and the company chooses the best result and that person hopefully could get a monitary payment for there work and or a certificate from that company to take with you to job interviews etc.
Of course the company would use the edited photograph as reward for the payment they awarded
just some ideas. what do others think?
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