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Making retouching a profession

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Old 07-04-2006, 02:42 AM
Gigadals Gigadals is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Philippines
Posts: 54
or maybe i should spend more time retouching, and less time on my job?
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Old 07-04-2006, 07:20 AM
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NancyJ NancyJ is offline
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with regard to your portfolio firstly - get it off geocities as soon as you can. If you're serious about going professional you need a more respectable place to show off your work, preferably you own domain.
Secondly, you're not going to be able to charge the big bucks if it appears you've only been doing this for 12-18 months. I wouldnt state when you started until its at least 5 years. You want to give the impression that you're experienced and have plenty of clients - this gives you the upper hand in business - you have to make them need you more than you need them (or at least make them think that is the case) This is ofcourse for high end fashion markets, if you're wanting target the 'home user' then you will have to be competing on price and service to stay in the game because the average person will not be able to tell the difference between 'ok' and 'amazing' retouching. Particularly at the resolutions/sizes they will be viewing at.
Your example pictures need to be larger (in dimensions not filesize - filesize needs to go down a few notches). Its not possible to see the fine detail of your work with such small images.
It also lacks focus, each image is a different style, standard retouch, arty, world of warcraft, magazine cover etc... If you want to diversify your market you need separate portfolios for each style, with only your VERY BEST work.
Your portfolio is like a sales pitch, if your pitching at a top fashion photographer they dont necessarily want to see your cars or montages. They want to see work thats relevant to them.
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Old 07-05-2006, 10:23 PM
Gigadals Gigadals is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Philippines
Posts: 54
thank you Nancy for the advice, I would follow your advice and redo my portfolio.

re: geocities.
It's a free site, I'm running it as test, would you happen to know any other site that would be free and doesn't have all those ads?

re: diversify my portfolio.
yes, yes. that's a great idea, I would separate my porfolio into something like covers, comics etc..?

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Old 07-06-2006, 10:20 AM
recrisp recrisp is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 53


I wrote some stuff below that I hope that you find helpful, and it's just my opinion, and it's really long, so I hope that you take it like it was meant, in a helpful way, I'm definitely only trying to help you in some of this, not slam you.
I agree with what's been already mentioned to you. Like NancyJ. said, you really, REALLY need to get your own hosting site, and it's not that much at all after the initial set-up costs, and some aren't even that much then... All free sites will have ads, that's how they support the sites, so you'll have to pay to get away from that.
I went to your site and looked at it, and again, I agree with NancyJ., while it's 'O.K.', it's not of a professional caliber. I'm not being rude, but truthful, if you're serious about trying to do this full-time, then you need to hear the good with the bad, and take everyone's suggestions and weigh them and see what you think objectively. You do 'pretty good' work, but in this day and age, a LOT of people consider themselves professionals, and LOT's of the people I do work for even have Photoshop, they think they're pretty good, mostly because their friends and family are wow'ed by them. I have seen the "friend's and family' thing since I can remember, they aren't going to be as critical as any employer would, so while it's nice that they love what you do, you need to get good feedback on your stuff before you take yourself too seriously, 'cause an employer will take it very serious.

My first application for employment didn't go too well at all, I felt as though I was ready, but I wasn't, but it definitely opened my eyes as to what I needed to work on, which wasn't "eye-candy", but the basics of retouching. I had learned all (well, most) of the filters, and knew quite a bit, I was unemployed for a year and worked day and night (literally) up to 18 hours per day, 'cause like a lot of people, I was in love with Photoshop. Had I not gotten a break from a friend of mine, I may not have ever gotten the job I did when I did either, so while I knew quite a bit, if it weren't for him opening a door for me, I may not have had a chance. I made very good money doing Photoshop later on, and I'm self-employed now, and although it's really a nice thing, I make about 1/5th of what I did, but I am happier, but it ain't for everyone...
Most companies aren't looking for a person that can do manipulations like magazine covers, those things are usually left up to people that have been in the business for a long time, they will be 'usually' looking for someone that can color-correct, and literally just fixing images, not making them into something they're not, like magazine covers, etc. Most retouching is so that the final image looks un-retouched, not unreal, the "un-real" stuff 'can' come later on as your
skills improve, and if you work at a place that recognizes that, your name will precede you in your work, and those jobs
will be there for you... maybe.
Normally, artists do all of the really fun stuff, and retouchers usually are doing menial things like masking, color-correcting, and clean-up, not anything glamorous at all. Although, as one's skills are learned at work, there will be times that a person that has shown their merit will get some of those jobs, but usually it takes time. That is a very useful thing in learning though, do it all, you will learn stuff by playing around in that sort of thing, but as a resume type thing, they more than likely won't be impressed by 'just that' alone. Take for instance the Flare Filter in Photoshop, that's a very neat little filter, but it was so overused in the beginning, and still is today, but thankfully not as much, but it's a sure sign that person doesn't have the true design skills they 'might' think. I'm not saying that about your stuff, I didn't see it, but the point is, people try to wow others with stuff that is actually more distracting than attractive.
Your car image has a reflection on it, while some will see that as a good thing, in this case it's not, the reflection is not realistically correct, and it literally kills that effect that you went for. Look at reflections and see how they work, they are always directly inline with the above image, they are never either left or right, always directly below. (Some instances 'may' change that though, but it's rare) So in other words, if you haven't the knowledge of something, it's best to leave it off rather than show it, 'cause someone will pick it apart, and if that someone is a prospective employer, that can't be good. Good constructive critiscisms are worth their weight in gold, and it needs to be by someone that knows good from 'just O.K.', like in forums that deal in imaging.

One thing I want to mention is that you need to size all of your images in a photo-imaging program, not in HTML, if you use HTML, it makes it appear to be sized. It's still the same file size, you're only affecting it visually, and not very good either, the images are distorted and pixelated (jaggies). This is a common mistake on web sites that aren't done by someone that knows HTML, and it's just one of the things that one learns when learning ALL of this stuff we need to know. I downloaded your "Barbie", the image size is 2160x2235, yet it's way smaller when viewing it on your site.
Your monitor's settings might not be like what the majority of your viewers too, so while the images might be fairly large, people that have their monitor's resolution set at a higher setting might see a really small image. Most people's settings today are 'at least' 1024x768, and every day that goes by people are setting them to a higher resolution, all depending on who your viewers are, and what they do. People that know photography, Photoshop, or play games will usually have a much higher setting than 800x600. Although I prefer a much higher setting, I keep my resolution set at 1024x768, but I know that's what the majority of my customers use, so that's what I use.
Like what was said, one should charge for what one knows, and charge accordingly, it'll affect your business either way. I saw that you said that you have 'mastered' Photoshop, while some people might agree, mostly people that aren't that familiar with it, it takes years to master Photoshop, or Illustrator, you really never stop learning, even if you use it every day of the week, all day long. I've been using Photoshop for 11 years and I don't feel as though I have mastered it at all. I make a living doing it, and I know what I'm doing, but even though I am skilled, I am not a master of it. My family thinks I am, but my friends are those in the field mostly, and if it's not up to par, they'll let me know, and if I value their opinions, I'll do whatever it takes to rectify the problem. (Our families love us, employers could care less if they hurt our feelings, there's too much at stake) I only say that so you might consider rewording that on your site, although we all need to show ourselves as competent, nothing should be stretched either.
I would suggest that you look at other's sites and see how they portray themselves, it can help you in deciding how to let others see you, and your work.

Back to the images, if a person sells shoes, they need to be shiny and pretty, dull ones won't sell as well... heheh If you do images for a living, or want to, you need to show what you can do fairly large, otherwise your efforts won't really be seen, which is a must in this field. Personally, I believe that all images need to be at it's highest setting as a .jpeg, if not, it degrades the images just enough so that it distracting to a point where it can make it, or break it. That's just my personal preference, not all believe that. I usually use small icons that go to a larger image on another page, the large image is just that, large, but I always try to keep in mind who's viewing if I can too, meaning that it's not so large that one has to scroll over or down to see it. Even though you use the roll-over method in .jpeg's, it should be large enough that we can actually see all of the hard work that went into the making of it, and even though 'some' customers won't know what they're looking at, they'll at least know what they like, and it can't hurt there. Rather than the roll-over method, it 'may be' better if you did a side-by-sidecomparison on another page altogether, just a thought, that's a personal preference though.

Lastly, I have 2 friends in Malaysia, although you're in another country, my friends said the same thing, they felt as though they are in a third-world country, and they are both outstanding in their field, in Photoshop, sculpting, 2-D art, and 3-D. They were doing some really high-end work in 3-D, they were getting paid hardly nothing, they couldn't afford to hardly keep a job, so they both quit and started their own company, and are actually doing better even though they don't have any benefits, which were already more or less non-existent in their 'real' job. They also did free-lance work on the side, and although they did enough of it, they weren't paid for what they were worth, if they were here in the U.S., I told them they'd be living the good life, because their work was really that of a highly paid professional. I say that to say that while you may want to do retouching, it may not be as viable as you might hope, it may not pay the bills, but it might be a very good way of continuing your learning process. I'm just guessing here, and I went on what you mentioned about a "third world country". If your surroundings aren't that of people that need Photoshop retouching, you may be looking at just doing it through the internet, not locally at all, which I'm sure you already know.

Anyway, I know I went on and on, but it's hard to say all of this without going into great depths, at least for me.
I hope that you took this as I said, I'm only trying to give you some thoughts, it doesn't mean I am right.
Good luck on this too.


Last edited by recrisp; 07-06-2006 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 07-06-2006, 10:52 AM
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PatrickB PatrickB is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Munich, Germany
Posts: 301
Red face

Amen Brother,

well that was one hell of a long post

What I would like to add is this:

At the very first beginning of my retouching stuff I was convinced that as soon as I "master" Photoshop I'd be good. But that is not true!

Photoshop is a tool, just like a hammer or a brush. The beauty and perfection of the image comes from your heart, your brain and your eyes. People honestly won't care shi... about how you achieved what you've done. They'll look at the image and say "WHOA, that girl is making me combustion hot, where's my cold shower!" or "Hey, that image in that ad really makes me interested in the product!". So sooner or later you should develop some feeling for an image and see behind it, feel and realize the overall atmosphere and focus of the image, rather than doing color correction and sharpening, blemish removal and stuff.

And this is what makes you an artist. I'm sure you know the painter Bob Ross. Look at his paintings closely. He's no good in using brushes and things, his techniques were pretty basic and nothing to be really excited about. But he painted with such imagination, love and passion everybody loves his paintings. Including me

When you've achieved those skills, looking at an image and sucking in the atmosphere and having a certain image developed in your mind and then taking an existing image just like a painter does with a white canvas and making it the image in your mind, then you're an artist.

that's what I say in my selfish and ego attitude.

Mastering Photoshop is nothing. Whether you pain a portrait with this or that brush doesn't matter, the outcome is what counts


PS: I was just browsing your site while typing this. And that:

Sorry, this GeoCities site is currently unavailable.

The GeoCities web site you were trying to view has temporarily exceeded its data transfer limit. Please try again later.

is horrible!

But from the images I've seen I can only beg you, remove those fake ad's and newspapers! They do not just look a bit ridiculous (sorry), but you can also run into serios copyright issues!
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Old 07-06-2006, 12:06 PM
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soleah soleah is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Guam
Posts: 170
Yes, Stan. I am very much Pinoy, born and raised. Here in Guam, who doesn't know about Manny Pacquiao?!! I belong in another profession which I love and retouching/restoring is a hobby for me.

Just be persistent in your job hunting. I've been in your position before and I know how it is back there. The thought that kept me going was "Maybe of the 100 jobs that I applied for, there is one that is perfect for me." Keep honing your skills too, even if you have your dream job already.
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Old 07-06-2006, 04:24 PM
Texas Dave Texas Dave is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2
Knowing Indesign and illustrator is a big plus. If you can do all three well, you'll find work, but experience is a big plus. I've found that retouching is just part of it, having a strong background in color theory is the other half of being a asset as a photoshop guru. It's all about knowing what your images are going to look like once their printed. Most small shops can't keep a retoucher or staff of color retouchers busy throughout the entire year, so if your looking for work, you would do yourself a big favor by adding that your proficient in the desktop side and be able to back it up. Problem is, learning everything you need to know is almost impossible without learning it on the job. You would be amazed at what clients don't know and you have to figure out on your own. Not to mention the fresh recruits of designers that come out every year thinking that the latest plug-ins will make thier designs amazing. Well, not all pre-press shops can handle and rip what the latest features in illustrator and indesign have to offer, so your stuck rebuilding stuff in photoshop just to get a print run. lol. headaches for everyone. Anyway, this is my first post here and I'm glad to be here. Hope everyone finds the job they want, but be ready, it can be as fun as you want it, and at the same time, a real pain in the butt!
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Old 07-07-2006, 01:34 AM
Gigadals Gigadals is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Philippines
Posts: 54
wow, i don't know what to say.


You don't have to worry on being harsh to me, it took me awhile to decide if I am going to seek people's advice on my work, and i am glad i did.
When I uploaded it, I was only thinking of getting people to see my stuff, I didn't get into so much details. Now I certainly will, thanks much.

About mastering photoshop, I know it is impossible to master it, I just wrote that to pull me up a bit, I would have to rephrase that.

Thank you for your reply.


I certainly would remove the fake ads. Thank you for telling me.
Thank you for your reply.

It's nice that you guys took some time to say something, and this is very much appreciated. Thank you

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Old 07-07-2006, 04:12 AM
Mary Heinz Mary Heinz is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 5
Patrick, interesting web site...and wanted to say how much I appreciate
your comments about becoming an "artist" and how you do that...that's
how I "heart" is in my work...I see it...then it goes to image
form....I see the photo...then take the photograph...or I envision the
collage, etc...then create it....I'm new in the photography business and
have always loved photography but until I got serious a few years ago....
until's very nice to view my own improvement and enjoy the benefits
of things I've learned seeing them in my own creations...

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Old 07-07-2006, 04:17 AM
Mary Heinz Mary Heinz is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: North Carolina
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Thank you for your view on becoming an "artist". I totally agree...and feel
I "see" the photograph or created image my heart...and mind....I recently started FamilyTies Photography and it's interesting to see my own
improvement since I really got serious a few years ago...
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