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Needs: Starting Out Advice/Business Idea Feedback

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  #1  
Old 06-08-2015, 04:59 PM
alreese83's Avatar
alreese83 alreese83 is offline
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Location: Boynton Beach, Florida 33472
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Needs: Starting Out Advice/Business Idea Feedback

***Seeking some advice. The text above the line are the thoughts I could totally use some wisdom on. The text below the line is a little back story on where I am coming from. ***

1. My photography skills have never been too great; to what extent is training in photography necessary to be a professional retoucher? I know the principles of photography.

2. Is there a steady market for retouching services on Main Street?
Outside of fashion, retail products and weddings, is there a market for retouching images: like family snapshots, community groups, graduations, youth sports, local media, mom & pop business advertising, small scale local events, selfies, student or emerging actors / artists portfolios, etc. not living on 5th Avenue?

3. Senior Citizen Niche?
So, I live in the senior citizen Mecca of the USA, South Florida. Thinking about providing services for senior citizens where I:
  • Do in-home consultations and culling
  • Digitize their photos or pull them from whatever new smart device that exceeds their tech abilities
  • Retouch / Restore / Optimize for the web and / or screen use only
  • Provide Delivery options as - individual files, digital photo album, slideshow, DVD; and also physically transport their images back home to them
  • In home tutorial to setup them up on emailing and posting images via social media
  • Is this a realist venture? Could this be profitable service?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

During the early part of the year a large (for me large) retouching project fell into my lap. The organization where I volunteer asked me to cull/ edit 300+ photos destined to be a printed photo album gift for a retiring manager. I had mentioned that I had some Photoshop experience from my days in college (New Media Arts / Documentary Film concentration), and from some small gigs here & there; so I said yes to the project. I’m a intermediate-beginner Photoshop / Lightroom user, but I had never done a project like this before.

In the end, everyone was pretty satisfied with my work for the office photo album. It was a little challenging (but totally enjoyed) for my rusty Photoshop skills, being that 99.99% of the images were Average Joe shot with various (and numerous) technical issues. Also, I could only edit during the two / three days of the week that I volunteered in the office (I had a 3week deadline), software used was Photoshop 6 for Windows (I’m a Mac user). The organization was the public arts department of the county I live in, it’s run on a super tight budget.

I have always like “editing”, whether it be a video project or someone’s term paper; troubleshooting, esp. creative troubleshooting, gives me a total buzz. The office photo album project sparked a number of thoughts; the most important thought being a want to turn this retouching “buzz” into something more professional, more businesslike, say an in-home or online business because I’m a caregiver for my elderly mother.

At current, I’m strengthening my PS / LR muscles via the likes of - video tutorials & book tutorials on PS / LR; books on photography & digital color management / correction; books on makeup application both digitally and in the real world, lighting books, etc. etc. etc. I have PS 2014, LR 5, and a Wacom Cintiq. Yeah, I know all of this is going to take some time to learn, a lot of time; but, one can simultaneously learn and move from side hustle to an established business or professional retoucher career, right (?), even at a late stage in life like early 30-something (?).

If not all, I hope some of this makes sense!
Any & All Wisdom Welcomed.

Cheers,
-ar
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2015, 10:39 PM
Tulack Tulack is offline
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Re: Needs: Starting Out Advice/Business Idea Feedb

Photoshop 6 is 15 years old. May be you mean Photoshop CS6 (which is Photoshop 13)

From my experience, your skills doesn't matter. Knowing right people is everything.
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  #3  
Old 06-08-2015, 10:58 PM
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alreese83 alreese83 is offline
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Re: Needs: Starting Out Advice/Business Idea Feedb

Not a mistake or typo, my only option was Photoshop 6 not CS6; but, hey, all the tools I needed were there, among some of the "challenges" of this project was (re)adjusting to the Photoshop 6 interface One of the many takeaways from studying film in college: use what you got to get what you want.
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  #4  
Old 06-09-2015, 12:59 AM
iodine iodine is offline
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Re: Needs: Starting Out Advice/Business Idea Feedb

Couple points of advice -

a). Training in photography isn't necessary. (On set I've literally had to ask the photographer how to remove the memory card from pretty common camera models).

But….

Some type of training/ foundation in visual arts is well worth the time, graphic design/ illustration/ photography/ film, even doing casual drawing classes is helpful. Don’t fall for the ‘schools pointless, no-one’s going to hire you because you have a piece of paper’ argument as it’s missing the point, you don’t study visual arts for the piece of paper. The skills and knowledge you can gain from structured learning under professionals made all the difference for me, you’ll learn a 1000 things you’ll never read in a book or find on youtube.

b). Age isn’t an issue as long as you still have your eyesight, I didn’t do my first retouch until 30, I’m now almost 35 and have been making a above average living from retouching for the past 3 years (the first 12 months was rough though). I found being a little older instead of a wet around the ears 19 year old a benefit if anything.

c). I wouldn’t bother with the domestic market - family snapshots, students, seniors, graduations etc.

They just wouldn’t value the work or have the budgets to pay a decent livable rate, you’d also be competing against a sea of $5/hr hour retouchers and nephews/cousins/grandchildren/friends with a cracked copy of photoshop willing to work for free.

There’s also not much room for growth, you’ll only become skilled at basic editing of crap photo’s with a solid portfolio of crap to show for it…leaving you at a dead end of only attracting more crap work.

I thought the same when I started, that there’s only two markets - either high end vogue covers or dodgy family portraits. The good news is the biggest market falls in between, most retoucher’s, either freelance or working for a studio make solid career’s without having to live in new york working on international campaigns.
It’s just misleading because you won’t see or hear most of them as they aren’t blogging/marketing/spruiking dvd’s etc, a lot don’t even have websites…

Instead of the domestic market focus on B2B, start contacting commercial, fashion, wedding, portrait photographer’s that look like they have a regular stream of paying clients, they’ll likely have the budget, workload and desire for your skillset. You’ll start at the lower end but once you’re in that market there’s a ladder to climb to the higher end clients.

d). It’s not as hard as it seems, work hard, work smart… if you want it to happen it’s more than achievable.

Focus on your growing your skills, collaborate with good people to build a better portfolio, contact the right people, give people a reason to hire you - rinse and repeat.
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  #5  
Old 06-09-2015, 03:21 AM
klev klev is offline
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Re: Needs: Starting Out Advice/Business Idea Feedb

Quote:
Originally Posted by alreese83 View Post
Not a mistake or typo, my only option was Photoshop 6 not CS6; but, hey, all the tools I needed were there, among some of the "challenges" of this project was (re)adjusting to the Photoshop 6 interface One of the many takeaways from studying film in college: use what you got to get what you want.
You would have been better of relying on CS2, as it no longer requires activation as of a couple years ago. The same might hold for newer versions. Even then you would have compatibility issues going forward. With CS6 half your adjustments use different algorithms, and you cannot maintain layers going to newer versions. In fact I think that was before they even implemented the ability to embed a flattened version in a psd.
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  #6  
Old 06-09-2015, 06:52 AM
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Benny Profane Benny Profane is offline
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Re: Needs: Starting Out Advice/Business Idea Feedb

Not a good idea to start a business plan in a market that is generally going to die in a few years.

Move to Miami, learn some Spanish, and do beauty work.
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  #7  
Old 06-09-2015, 04:43 PM
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Repairman Repairman is offline
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Re: Needs: Starting Out Advice/Business Idea Feedb

Iodine tells it pretty much how it is IMO. FWIW I started at 35 (albeit with a graphics background) so you're still young enough to make a new career.
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  #8  
Old 06-16-2015, 01:49 AM
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alreese83 alreese83 is offline
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Re: Needs: Starting Out Advice/Business Idea Feedb

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benny Profane View Post
Not a good idea to start a business plan in a market that is generally going to die in a few years.

Move to Miami, learn some Spanish, and do beauty work.
But they spend soooo much money sooo easily, instantly wowed over the slightest mouse click, and desperate to stay in touch with their tech savvy grandkids on the likes of Facebook / etc.. . .gotta love those baby boomer retirees

---

And thanks everyone for the feedback & thought snacks.

-ar
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