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I just graduated with a degree in Fine Arts

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Old 08-13-2006, 07:25 PM
muffintop muffintop is offline
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Location: Midwest
Posts: 3
Thumbs down I just graduated with a degree in Fine Arts

and an emphasis in Graphic Design.

My last year of college, I was tired of taking classes that didn't interest me, so I asked my teacher if I could do an independent study which incorporated web design with photo retouching since there were no classes dealing with either (turns out our art program was lacking). I created a fake business and retouched photos of family and friends then made a website for the business. It was so much fun and I felt like I was pretty good at it.

Since then, I've had a friend ask me to retouch her wedding photos and other friends ask me to remove zits and stretch marks (ha). I never took it serious. The thought that you could get paid for doing it didn't even cross my mind. I mean, is it true? Can you actually be a photo retoucher AND pay the bills?

I guess I'd just like opinions on where to go from here. Should I simply treat it as a hobby? Offer to retouch people's photos for free until I make a name for myself? Do I try to find a photographer in town and work for them? Should I master webdesign so I can make myself a snazzy little website and hope to get things going once I have that?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-13-2006, 10:33 PM
DannyRaphael's Avatar
DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Near Seattle, Washington, USA
Posts: 6,300
First of all congrats on graduating. That in and of itself is a major accomplishment. Secondly, finding something you enjoy doing is a real plus. A+ on that, too.

I have two kids who will be going to college someday -- too soon, I might add -- so I'll give you my 2 cents based on that perspective. Here's some food for thought. Perhaps others will jump in, too.

re: Pay the bills?
It all depends on how much the bills are, IOW what your standard of living is (or will be). There's a world of difference between buying gas, making car and insurance payments on a new Corvette vs. an older Honda Civic. Housing/food expenses would probably be less by living in a house with few friends vs. getting your own place and paying for everything yourself. Do you have to have the latest cool clothes or tech gadgets? Those can take a pretty big bite out of ones income.

[I'm not accusing you of over indulgence or extravagance... I don't even know you. My point is "how much one needs to earn" will to a large degree depend on lifestyle and, if applicable, other income sources, e.g., a second job, help from parents/relatives, loan, trust fund, whatever. The math is pretty simple: If monthly expenses exceed net income, something has got to change. It might sound trite, but I'd do some research on basic budgeting, aka a "spending plan," if you've not done this sort of thing before.]

* $40K / year = approx. $20/hr
* $50K / yr = ~ $24/hr
* $60K / yr = ~ $29/hr
...and that's for an 8 hr/day, 5-days/week, 52-weeks a year job. And don't forget health and dental insurance.

I'm sure your friends appreciate your comp. services. (Mine do, too.) In fact just about anyone likes/is amazed by digital imaging magic. But toss in, "Yeah, I'll do it... for $20/hr." and see how many are ready to shell out that kind of dough. Sure, some would. But would there be enough to pay the freight week after week?

Honestly I cannot fathom anyone starting out with a sole proprietorship retouching business and knocking down wages anywhere in those ranges those right off the bat. It would take time, perhaps years, to build a clientel and/or reputation for repeat business.

So, your idea of getting plugged in with a local photographer (or two or three or four) to futher hone skills, get more experience with 'real world work' and, more importantly IMO, make other professional contacts is a good one.

Beefing up your website building skills/getting more experience in that regard would be a good thing, too. Maybe you could find local photographers who don't have websites yet. That would be a double-bonus.

If you haven't yet, get this book and learn as much as you can from it. It's w/o a doubt the best of its nature on the planet. (Read the reviews at

Do some more net research. Here are a couple links I found from a quick Google search:

I'm not saying, "Don't pursue your dream." I'm saying move forward with your eyes open and with realistic expectations. Asking other folks for ideas is a good approach. Take advice with a grain of salt.

Good luck moving forward.


Last edited by DannyRaphael; 08-13-2006 at 10:43 PM.
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Old 08-14-2006, 01:44 AM
muffintop muffintop is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Midwest
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Thanks so much for your reply and the book reccomendation which I'm incredibly excited to read.

You made some really good points.

I want to invest in something that I'll be able to eventually raise a family and live comfortably on. I'm 23, unmarried, and don't have children now, but perhaps in 10 years all of that will change. I know I can always change my career down the road, but I'm worried about getting into a profession that'll put me in the poor house if I do ever want kids, vacations, and cars that run. I don't want to depend on a husband's salary if I should ever get married.

Right now graduating with an art degree has been quite frustrating because the jobs I've been able to find do not pay well. It's sad when high schoolers can make more money working at a call center than I could make doing a job I spent the last four years of college preparing for! It has made me question whether or not I should go back to school for a completely different area of study or what.

Thanks again for the reply. It was very helpful.
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