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Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

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  #1  
Old 11-28-2007, 01:28 PM
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kevin thompson kevin thompson is offline
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Question Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

These questions are directed more toward members working in NYC. I am interested in a retouching job in the city but I am having a hard time figuring out the type of job and how much to ask for.

I have been working for a newspaper in NJ for over 20 years. 10 of those have been photo retouching for newsprint and glossy. The other 10 is a mix of that and ad design.

I make 43k now and cannot see me going much higher here, The newspaper business is hurting and I am told I already make to much.

I do not have a 4 year degree in art or loads of freelance experience. My resume is not extensive. I have been loyal to one company for a long time. I also do not have an extensive portfolio because most of the pictures I work on are shot by non caring photographers. Or I am fixing bad PDF photos sent in from agencies. Or I am dealing with photos from sales people that are pre-screened or taken off the web. I have the technique to fix and/or improve anything from very poor to high-end photos but I do not know if that is enough to make any more than what I get now.

Sending a resume to all the shops I can get an address to doesn't seem like it will work. Knowing someone would help but I am 2 hours away by train and cannot find anyone to help. Is applying to places on line my only option?

What is the difference between ad-agencies, magazines and high-end shops? Do all of them do the same type of photos and the time expected to do them is different?

Even with 10 years of experience I am not sure I can put 45 or 50k as a salary requirement and get any interviews. I need at least that to cover other expenses. What is stopping companies from just hiring kids out of school for 35k and training them to be what they want. Just how valuable is experience?

Any opinions are appreciated?
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Old 11-28-2007, 01:56 PM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

experience is a must to be even considered for an interview, most places will give you a test and will base their hiring decision on how well you do...
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:01 PM
Ant Ant is offline
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Re: Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

Kevin,

Retouching in the city pays much more. I wouldn't worry about making less than you are currently, at least not for long. Put together a website of your best work. Apply for Junior Retoucher positions. Have an 11x14 portfolio of perfect prints ready to bring to the interview. Be prepared to take a test. Answer craigslist ads, check with creative employment agencies about contract work. The kind of retouching work in the city is ads and editorial fashion and beauty. There is plenty to go around and the range of what type of work is as vast. I'd suggest looking at a pre-press operation and/or a lab that offers in-house retouching to get a foot in. Experience is valued, but the work is the most important. Kids out of school generally can't do squat, but many retouchers 'come up' by learning from the ground. In a few years, they end up making money.
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:56 PM
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Re: Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

i spent alot of money on printing up a fancy portfolio, $400 give or take, and ended up getting alot more work out of posting before/after rollovers and just emailing a link with a resume. or at least more callbacks for testing, which eventually led to more work

in the end, like the others have mentioned, it'll come down to how you deal with your test image. employers can see everything they need to know about you from that
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Old 11-28-2007, 03:53 PM
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Benny Profane Benny Profane is offline
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Re: Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

Well, I may surprise some here with this advice, but you should contact Quad Graphics about a position there - it would be a perfect next step for you, because you'll start seeing a lot of new work that a newspaper environment just doesn't give you. They do pre press for a lot of magazines, and some surprisingly high end retouching work for Conde Nast and Travel and Leisure, among others. You won't get paid a lot, but enough, and you'll learn a lot if you look at it as a training ground. If Quad doesn't want you, find a business that just does a lot of different kinds of retouching - don't limit yourself to one "genre". Beauty, cosmetics, still lifes, illustrations, grab it all and learn.
In your free time, get a portfolio together by finding only high quality images for before and after examples. A printed book can contain images lacking "permission" from the source, but, be careful, don't use the images or display them in any other way. I suppose a lawyer would advise that this isn't safe, which is probably true, but it seems to be Kosher among the people in the biz.
After a year or two, start looking around the higher end houses. And remember, when approaching a problem - nothing is impossible. If you can't figure it out, somebody else will.
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Old 11-28-2007, 08:59 PM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

we used to do some of the conde nast work till AGT outbid all of us....did Quad buy AGT or did they bid even lower to get some of that work?
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Old 11-28-2007, 10:38 PM
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Benny Profane Benny Profane is offline
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Re: Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

They bid low, low, low. They give away the prepress cheap to get the printing, but, in this case, they didn't even get the printing. And now printing is super competitive with a lot of overcapacity. Tough biz. But Quad does it lean and mean.
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Old 11-29-2007, 01:25 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

Thanks for the answers people!

A couple of questions though:

What is a good number of examples to have in a portfolio for an interview or on the web? Having more doesn't mean better right? What about a CD or thumb drive to show the layered steps you did?

Everyone menchoned a test image. Is there a spacific type you are usually faced with or does it vary depending on the place?

Finding high quality images for before and after examples is not easy. I suppose you have to do the best you can with what you can find.
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Old 11-29-2007, 01:45 PM
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Re: Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

IMO a perfect portfolio would include skin, hair, and product example. one of each would be fine

layered files are unnecessary, the end result will show if you did things the right way or not

test image would depend on the place, either the same nightmare image they give everyone to see how you handle it, or a sample of whatever they're working on at the moment to see if they can't get some free work out of ya
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Old 11-29-2007, 02:26 PM
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Re: Questions about retouching jobs in NYC

oh yeah, and a composite image is good to have too
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