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How does one break out of retouching?

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  • How does one break out of retouching?

    I have been retouching professionally since before I graduated from art school. I've been with my current job at a popular fashion conglomerate for 3 years and I'm getting the itch to get a new job and move to a new location.

    I feel like this is a critical point in my career. I could choose to broaden my horizons and try something new, so I'll have more options/opportunity for growth in the future - OR, I fear that if I go with another retouching job, I'll be locked in and I'll be forced to be a retoucher forever (which would be okay, but I really wanted to do other things in fashion).

    I'm interested in the production end of things (booking models, casting, ironing out the details for a shoot, research, coordinating), but every production-esque job out there calls for experience. How does one get "production experience"?

  • #2
    Re: How does one break out of retouching?

    Reach out to your contacts you have previously done retouching for. Tell them exactly what you told us (maybe say "branch out" instead of "get out"). Maybe be a part-time intern while continuing to retouch, if that's what it takes. They know you, they know your eye, they know your work ethic.

    No one will jump just to help you out, but if it's an opportunity for both sides to get what they need it could get you the experience you're looking for.

    If all your work to this point has been out of town, call local photographers, studios, agencies, and show them your retouching work and tell them of your desire to expand your experience base.

    I wouldn't ever leave retouching completely. A master of two skills is more valuable than a master of one, and in business if you haven't done a job for a couple of years it doesn't count.
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning


    • #3
      Re: How does one break out of retouching?

      I think there's a lot of photographers out there who just like to be behind the camera and don't enjoy a lot of the other necessary aspects of their work.

      If it doesn't sound too mundane, maybe a photographers assistant (to start with) would make use of your retouching expertise on the shoot and involve you in some of the organisation. You can see and learn a huge amount by being on a busy model shoot involving art directors, stylist etc.


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