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How to get experience in this business

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  • How to get experience in this business

    Hi everyone, this is my first post. Glad to be here.

    This question probably gets pushed around a lot, so I apologize if it's a dull one. I'm a documentary/editorial photographer living in New York, and for a while now I have wanted to get into professional photo retouching. Primarily because I think I'd be good at it, and I really enjoy the little bits I get to do. I do an unusual amount of retouching on my own images for someone who doesn't shoot fashion or "commercial" photos, and I sometimes do freelance work for other documentary photographers doing color work and printing. But I do not have the right portfolio or the level of experience required to approach retouching studios about working for them in any kind of capacity.

    So I'm wondering, does anyone have any advice on how I could go about effectively approaching this business? I need experience but I have approached retouchers and photographers that I know about that very subject and have gotten nowhere. Is there such a thing as a retouching internship? Because I would love to do it if given the chance. The problem is, I really need the right images to work on, and someone who can tell what I'm doing right and doing wrong, but finding that guidance has so far alluded me.

  • #2
    Re: How to get experience in this business

    Originally posted by jtrory View Post
    But I do not have the right portfolio or the level of experience required to approach retouching studios about working for them in any kind of capacity.
    Welcome to the forum. You've answered your own question right'll need to master the basic skills first. There are more online tutorials and help sites than any individual could possibly absorb in a lifetime. I'm no expert, but I would assume any "internship" would require a combination of knowledge, skills and talent to even be considered. It's also a very very small field, and opportunities are scarce regardless of pay scale, and it's highly unlikely any "pro" retouching company is going to want to do any hand holding at all. (sorry, just reality)

    As far as images to work on, sometimes they get posted on here and many many other sites - but if you're a photographer, I suggest you go out and make your own! Depending on the direction you want to go, learning lighting is often a key factor to the end retouching result. you'll get a zillion critiques anywhere you post your retouches...everyone's a critic!

    Good luck, and have fun!


    • #3
      Re: How to get experience in this business

      I'm going to cast a dissenting vote. I originally tried using online tutorials and "self-teaching" myself many years ago. Now I regret the time I wasted. Once I started taking college level courses, my eyes opened and I had to learn how to do everything over again - the correct way. If you are just starting your career, invest in some professional training and education.



      • #4
        Re: How to get experience in this business

        Hi jtrory. I had the same question in my mind a year ago. And much more questions about hi-end retouching then answers. I did a lot of self-studies (loads of tutorials from internet, video ones ets.), then I went to a spesial course to London College of fashion (it was rubish) and then finally I decided to look for internship. I sent out lot's of emails to differet retouching agencies and in a while I found a very nice internship place. I'm really happy about it and think that I'm very lucky, but there were couple of positive replies and some nice contacts. Some professional retouchers are really nice, friendly and helpful people. And the secret is that magority of them were tought by somebody skilled. I guess it works like this in this industry.
        You are in NY, a lot of fashion fhotographers are around ask them for some pics (just email), make a smal port and then keep emailing to agensies with your request. Try in Janyarry - more quiet time for retouchers, they wouldn't take an intern if they are too busy.. If you really want it u'll get it. Good luck!


        • #5
          Re: How to get experience in this business

          here is a good opportunity I think


          • #6
            Re: How to get experience in this business

            Learn everything you can.

            Read books, do online tutorials, and get to work. Try to get into a situation where you can learn from other retouchers, this has been the best thing to happen to me. Try intern-ing or teaming up or whatever.

            Good luck.


            • #7
              Re: How to get experience in this business

              Hi I am new to this site as well. I have been in the advertising industry for 9 years working as a designer / studio manager and for the past 3 years i have been retouching as a combination with the other roles. I have learnt from other retouchers and a great deal. Maybe you could look at entering into retouching from other avenues...


              • #8
                Re: How to get experience in this business

                To the original poster, I see retouching internships pop up on the NYC craigslist quite often. If you're willing to enter on that level, then I think basic knowledge is enough. There are some people out there with years of bad technique built into them, so starting out "fresh slate" style is appealing to some leads/studios. Then they can teach you the right way from the get go.
                Keep an eye out for internships, but don't be afraid to reach out to the studios whose work you like. The worst that could happen is that they say no, and yet they will have your name on file if something comes up.


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