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Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

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  #1  
Old 04-05-2010, 03:23 PM
Shorty80 Shorty80 is offline
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Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

Hi all,

I've been reading through threads trying to find answers, but I'm having trouble. I'm trying to get into retouching (specifically beauty & fashion). What I need and want is a paid apprentice / training position at a studio, where I can earn some money and get hands-on experience in a real world setting. I'm not advanced enough to jump into a junior retoucher position, and I can't really teach myself anything more advanced. I took a couple courses at SVA, but I can't afford to take any more and I'm hitting a wall in terms of learning on my own. I need professional guidance and experience. Basically I want to get my foot in the retouching door, even if I'm at the very bottom of the ladder.

Where and how do you find this sort of position? I look on craigslist a lot (everything seems to be experience required or unpaid right now). I googled retouching studios in NYC and emailed a bunch to see if they hire this sort of position. I did get two responses which haven't materialized into much yet. Is there a better way to go about this?

I live in central NJ so I'm looking in NYC right now. I do want to relocate to southern California at some point, so I casually look in the LA area as well, although I'm not quite ready to move out there yet, but I figure it's worth looking into that area as well.

Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 04-05-2010, 04:06 PM
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Godmother Godmother is offline
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Re: Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

Why would they pay you if they are teaching you?

It doesn't make sense.
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Old 04-05-2010, 11:30 PM
whiteyanderson whiteyanderson is offline
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Re: Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

hey shorty, i've been a lurker here for awhile and this is actually my first post. i live out here in L.A. and it's not much easier here to find what you're looking for. sometimes you can find a photographer assistant job but, the pay won't be much at all and the hours will be small. i speak from experience here my wife is an agent who reps a couple very well known photographers and she advises me on certain things as i have just started to launch a freelance business.

i understand exactly what you're looking for- an education that pays. you may not want to hear this but, i cut my teeth in the adult industry for the last 5 years. no it isn't glamorous and a lot of times isn't "real" retouching but, you do learn by picking up little things here and there and it pays fairly well if you find the right production company. i always considered it paid training at 50K a year. the thing with MOST adult companies is the emphasis on speed so you have to be fast. but, it pays the bills and affords you time to master any newfound skills during your time off.

i'm still far from great but, i'm pretty good i guess. with my wife's career her photographers "lend" me a few images here and there to practice on and once i reach the caliber they expect (and it is high), they will slowly begin to slide me some work.

so, you know, a lot of people scoff at adult retouching. i say again, it's a paid education and if you have the passion you will take what you can learn from it and use it to your advantage. as mentioned i have just started my own business and have become "good" enough to get a few small jobs from smaller photographers here in L.A. on the other hand i've just landed a job with a hollywood adult production company that will pay me around 12K ovewr the next 5 weeks with even more to come. it's a ton of images and real quick touch ups and light corrections, etc. so that is my bread and butter as i try to get more "real" business or rather, business i can be more proud of. in the meantime i practice as much as i can to get to that level.

sorry for the long reply. and excuse any typos- i JUST got one of these apple bluetooth keyboards to make more room for my wacom and it's taking a bit to get used to it. this keyboard is TINY!
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:38 PM
Shorty80 Shorty80 is offline
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Re: Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Godmother View Post
Why would they pay you if they are teaching you?

It doesn't make sense.
Guess I wasn't clear enough here. I am not completely inexperienced. Just not experienced or quick enough to be a junior yet. I can do some things fast, others I cannot. Some things I haven't learned yet. I interviewed with a studio that had a full time salaried position where they hire a novice who is good enough to do the easier jobs, and train them as they go, and show them the way they do certain things (like their standard masking methods, etc). I retouched a test image, which I did well on. I don't need an entire education, I'm just still a newbie. So apparently paid training positions do exist, you just need enough Photoshop skills to get one, which I do have. I also don't expect a lot of money. But I can't afford to work for free in Manhattan. A train pass plus parking at the station for me would be almost $400 a month. The only way I can do this is if it is a short internship, say 3 months. I'm not opposed to this though. But yet again, where do I look?

whitey, thanks for your answer. I would have no problem with doing that kind of retouching to start with. I actually saw an ad on craigslist for something like this in NYC last month. Is it simple enough in the beginning that someone new to the field could do it? I've become pretty quick at basic retouching, like skin cleanup and color correction.
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Old 04-06-2010, 02:13 PM
whiteyanderson whiteyanderson is offline
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Re: Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

shorty,

ha i just logged in to check on this thread to see if you had any questions and here you are. i'll try to be quick as i have work to do.

it really all depends on the company to answer your question. some of the big companies like vivid for example are more demanding. on the other hand they don't pay as well as smaller companies and they have an alarming turnover rate. why that is i don't know but, i've never worked for them. i imagine it is because they are pretty demanding and don't pay accordingly for unrealistic expectations on their demands and figure some people will do anything and take their BS just to work there. and there are people out there that will just to say they're involved in the industry. why? i have no idea i've never been a huge fan of the adult industries product but, some people will sell their souls just to be involved in it and i know plenty of them.

but, yes a lot of the work is removing blemishes and color correcting. i call it quick and dirty editing. emphasis is on quick though. when a client hands you 5000 images you better get busy and you better do it right the first time. most of time for this stuff i work directly on the original image, meaning i rarely use any layers or masking except on facial close ups. on standard shots there is a bunch of healing and smoothing and adjusting color and light levels then onto the next one.

again, many people will laugh and call this "fake retouching" anx in a way it is. but, i say this: where else can you LEARN THE BASICS and get paid enough to actually live, eat, have some spending money, buy a car to meet potential clients and invest in a better setup to hone your skills for the real deal? some of us have to work while we dream of the next step.

don't get me wrong this is HARD WORK. and it can be a huge test on patience. in the adult industry you have to figure that many of the photographers and models are in adult for a reason: they're not quite good enough to be mainstream or, at least that is my view.

so, where a high per image paid retoucher may get one or two beautifully taken images of a beautiful model that they can retouch and add their vision to, you may get 100 images of a horrible lighting with massive color corrections needed and a model that is riddled with blemishes. you need to work fast, and you need to get them looking good. i don't know which is harder since i do both they have their trade-offs.

so yes if you're pretty good at basic corrections you could do it.

theres a couple of important things to note if you land a gig like this:

1- learn while you're on the job. there'll probably be someone there who knows something you don't. learn what you can.

2- if high end retouching is your goal then PRACTICE all you can at home on your off time.

3- when you learn something new at home take that knowledge into work and see if you can apply it to your already fast workflow. it makes you faster and better.

4- NEVER get comfortable or think you're the real deal because you're making a "living". if you do, you lose the hunger to learn and you'll be there forever.

5- NEVER let anyone tell you what you're doing isn't legit. i know plenty of people who are starving because of their idealogies. i used to be like that. remember you have the opportunity to earn WHILE you learn. a lot of people i know raise their eyebrows because i accept a quick and dirty job from a client. then they piss and moan and can't get make any progress because they're depressed. they can't pay their bills and are too busy scrambling for rent to further their learning while i just landed a new client.

6 - you have to hustle here in L.A. and i know in NYC too. but, there are plenty of opportunites if you put yourself out there. that's the KEY you have to go get it. no one is going to give it away. there are plenty of adult companies, up and coming photographers, models, actors, whatever that may need something done. it may not be the best work and it may not pay the most but, if you put yourself out there and figure out how to earn and LEARN and KEEP PRACTICING you can cobble together a living and earn a reputation.

sorry long response again!
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  #6  
Old 04-08-2010, 09:19 PM
Shorty80 Shorty80 is offline
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Re: Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

Thanks again whitey, I really appreciate all your info and advice!
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Old 04-10-2010, 04:17 AM
zganie zganie is offline
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Re: Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

Shorty I think I would agree with Godmother on this.I thinl you wont find anyone wanting to pay you while you learn or at least it would be very hard.
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:26 PM
Shorty80 Shorty80 is offline
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Re: Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

Yeah, I'm not surprised it would be hard, but so far I know of at least two studios who do offer exactly this. Of course you have to have enough skills to at least do basic retouching, and they'll have you do things like maintain the printers. I was actually a little surprised that this position does exist, but since it does that's why I came on the forum, I thought maybe someone knew how to find more.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:33 PM
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Amanda_Lauren Amanda_Lauren is offline
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Re: Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

Its college graduation season (in may), summer internships are in abundance this time of year. Plenty of studios in NYC offer paid internships, or photographers that are looking for assistance. Although, usually you will be expected to do clerical work as well. Even some studios will hire you but just pay on the low end of the spectrum as long as you have the basics down, and will train you in the process. You just need to know where to look. Craigs list believe it or not is a great place to start, and if you are in college or an alumni of a college, most colleges have a job board/career center where they can guide you in the right direction. Think positively, you'll find something.
Good Luck!

Salut,
Amanda
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:41 AM
Shorty80 Shorty80 is offline
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Re: Paid retouching apprenticeships in NYC? or LA?

Thanks Amanda
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