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Work/Jobs Talk about the business side of things. Advice, questions, inspiration, and moral support

Anyone else struggling to find work?

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  #1  
Old 04-17-2005, 08:15 PM
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Imagepro4U Imagepro4U is offline
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Unhappy Anyone else struggling to find work?

Hi everyone. I just joined this group and find the threads so informative. I have been a professional retoucher for 22 years, first working in a photo studio as the "house retoucher", graduating to working on my own. Up until this year, I was extremely busy. I dealt mostly with professional wedding photographers and a local processing lab. Even with things going "digital", I still had a steady flow of "traditional retouching work", doing everything from enhancements,restorations and oil paintings. In addition to the traditional work, I also began offering "digital retouching", knowing that is where everything is going. The problem is that it seems far too many professional photographers are doing this work for themselves, even customers I have had for well over a decade. Many local labs have closed their doors because they can't keep up with the big chain processing labs, hence another blow to my business. My prices have always been extremely fair and my reputation as a top notched retoucher has been well known. I'm feeling very discouraged these days, looking for another part time job. I never thought I would see the day my phone would sit silent and I would pray for work to come in. What has happened out there? Any other experienced freelancer finding the market drying up? My customers (professional photographers) tell me that their clients aren't spending much money on wedding photography any more because of so many people having relatives with digital cameras doing the work. I need ideas to market myself. Please help. I don't want to lose something that has been a part of me for so long.
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Old 04-17-2005, 10:09 PM
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Legacy~Art Legacy~Art is offline
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Welcome to the forum hun!

Why dont you get together with other artists, set up a website and together sell your work, that is what a friend of mine did, she now sells her pictures at high price.

I am sure if your a member of art forums your find people interested!
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Old 04-18-2005, 01:14 PM
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grafx grafx is offline
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A website is the way to go. You might not have work in your local area, but you may be able to find clients over the web. Agressive marketing and once the word of mouth gets going you'll be fine. Its always feast or famine for me. I either am begging for work (pro-bono and freebies to get my name/work noticed) or I have too much to handle. Just don't give up!
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Old 04-18-2005, 02:08 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imagepro4U
Hi everyone. The problem is that it seems far too many professional photographers are doing this work for themselves, even customers I have had for well over a decade.

Many local labs have closed their doors because they can't keep up with the big chain processing labs, hence another blow to my business.

What has happened out there? Any other experienced freelancer finding the market drying up?

My customers (professional photographers) tell me that their clients aren't spending much money on wedding photography any more because of so many people having relatives with digital cameras doing the work.

I need ideas to market myself.

I don't want to lose something that has been a part of me for so long.
As one of those professional photographer you spoke of, let me give you a few thoughts as I see them from my side of the fence. I have kind of taken your post apart to get to the items I want to comment on, hope you do not mind.

When I shot film (either 35 or medium format) retouching zits or whatever was tricky to do, get the right color, just seeing the zit on the negative etc etc. But with digital, blow it up to 100 or better %, make a mistake, CTL Z and do over. And since most of us are doing some kind of enhancement work anyway, a few seconds on zits, scars or whatever is OK. Let alone the time factor and trying to get the image to you, through your workflo, then back to me......

Where I am, most of the local labs that have gone out of business have done so because of a lack of film to develop, and their inability to adapt to and afford the cost of new equipment that will handle digital images.

"What has happened out there?" The world is changing from film to digital. Things are still falling out. We know where it was, we can see where it is now, but we cannot do but guess where its going to end up.

Weddings are changing and quickly. Most of the photographers are hoping that it will be just a passing fad, if so it cannot pass to fast for me!!!! It seems that the high end weddings are still using pro's but the price break around here is around $4K or better, below they do it themselves, above the hire someone.

We all need ideas to promote ourselves

And your last point "I don't want to lose something that has been a part of me for so long." Let me tell you a story. My Grandfather was a big man, some 6'3" and about 250 lbs. He was in his mid 40's in about 1915 or so and he owned a livery stable which he had owned and operated for many years. He was quoted, as he was standing in front of his stable, his hands griping the straps of his overalls, "I cannot understand why anybody would want one of them noisy, stinking automobiles, when they could have a handsome team of horses". Within 6 months the Ford dealer opened for business in the very same building.

Things are changing for all of us, we need to learn how to go with the new flow, or we stand the danger of being wiped out by it. I really did not want to give up film and my darkroom any more than my Grandfather wanted to give up his horses. He fought the change and lost. He was never the same again. I am trying to learn from him and not do the same.

Good luck to all of us

Mike
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Old 04-18-2005, 06:26 PM
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Imagepro4U Imagepro4U is offline
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Hi Mike,
Thanks for answering my post. I agree with everything you are saying. Being a photographer, are there some retouch jobs you wouldn't want to do yourself? Granted, a lot of the more simple facial clean up can be done by almost anyone owning Photoshop, but what about some of the more difficult requests? The idea I had in marketing myself would be to seek out the "difficult" or "time consuming" work since I have the expertise and experience to do it and do it with a good turn around (something I always did as a traditional artist). The few clients I have left, I go to their studio to pick up the work, just for the added service of it all. I want to do a mass mailing, advertising myself to the local photographers hoping it would be worth it. I know the old days are gone and I have indeed become "digital" myself. I hoping that maybe not all these photographers have the patience and time to work through enhancing a wedding album. And with many of these photographers now needing a second job, I'm thinking maybe they really will be pressed for time in doing their retouching. I guess I will never know until I try.
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Old 04-18-2005, 07:16 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Some of the photographers that I know consider anytime at the computer is dead time, they only make money when they are behind the camera. So there are those that will hire someone to do PS work for them. I have heard of several that are using high school kids for a lot of the routine work. So there may be hope for you!!!!

Sending out a mailing is one way of doing it, altho I might get some samples and go door to door or maybe call for an interview then go to the door. I do not know what city you are in so I do not know how many studios there maybe in your area. I would try the bigger full time studios if I were you. Many of these studios have their "retouchers" work in house.

But there is also a bunch of us that have gone to the view that creating an image is a combination of camera work plus computer work. Kind of like custom printing in the film days. So of course we kind of like to keep our hands on the process all the way through. Thats most likely not what you wanted to hear.....

But I am sure that some where there is a niche for you and your skills, just keep looking and good luck!

Mike
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Old 04-19-2005, 06:36 AM
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cricket1961 cricket1961 is offline
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There is definitely work out there. I field phone calls on a weekly basis from top Beauty and Fashion Photographers.
I know you said that your name is pretty well established out there, but you have to renew your promotion. There are a lot of Photographers out there who want and need good retouchers. And a lot of them are willing to pay well for your customer beliefs.
I live in Ct and work in NYC. And most of the calls I get are from neither of those two states.
Hang in there. It'll happen!
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Old 04-21-2005, 12:10 PM
lens2art lens2art is offline
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Imagepro4U,

I have sent you a couple of PMs, one e-mail via this site and replied to your e-mails - the e-mail address you SEND with does not seem to receive replies, your host returns them as "User unknown" each time.

Please feel free to e-mail me again and, if possible, provide a different reply address (hotmail perhaps?) so we can talk.

Kind regards,
Nick
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  #9  
Old 04-28-2005, 11:43 AM
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margotshp margotshp is offline
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I look for new things to do everyday but it is not easy to find clients... at least here in London, UK ... no idea what I'm doing wrong

Last edited by margotshp; 04-28-2005 at 03:23 PM.
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  #10  
Old 05-14-2005, 04:40 PM
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Photo Grafix Photo Grafix is offline
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Keep trying different marketing techniques. Just try to avoid spending too much. Display ads are too pricey. Door-to-door and phone calls offering a no-charge trial are cheap and quite effective.

Don't let go of your talent of retouching and settle for something less. You will find your niche if you are persistant and always look at the glass half-full.

But all of that good feeling should not keep you from saving up a "rainy day" fund of 3-6 months of cash for living expenses. All of us have dry spells and must wisely prepare for the famine the moment our feast begins. So when things pick up for you, start preparing.

Eric
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