DSLR Photography Forum

Full Version: Paid retouching work
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Have you ever done retouching or other photo manipulation for money? I'm not asking for details but it would be interesting to know for example if it was easy to get those jobs and how well were they paid. Did you already have a great portfolio before landing the first job or did you succeed some other way?
I've done a few, mostly by word of mouth. Started out doing a couple for friends, sadly both for funerals. One was retouching a photo that had been creased and torn to look cleaner for the memorial program. The second was removing a beer can from the hands of someone who had just died of liver failure, family didn't have any photo's of him without a beer in his hand.

These led to some paid projects fixing old and worn photo's, and one repairing a high school senior portrait after the sister had ripped it into 6 pieces after a fight with her brother LOL.
(Oct 21, 2012, 13:42)jinko Wrote: [ -> ]Have you ever done retouching or other photo manipulation for money? I'm not asking for details but it would be interesting to know for example if it was easy to get those jobs and how well were they paid. Did you already have a great portfolio before landing the first job or did you succeed some other way?

I am a full time web designer and clients often ask if I could improve their pictures so they fit their web pages. That's how it started. I didn't and still don't have before/after portfolio. At the beginning I was feeling stupid about charging them for retouching photos, I would retouch them even without asking, but with time I've got more comfortable about it and I even charge retouching jobs...sometimes Blush
The reason I´m asking this is that I'd some day like to do high end or at least some basic retouching or even be a digital artist. I have quite good Photoshop skills but can't call myself an expert and I'm nowhere near where I'd like to be. To achieve it I think I'd have to spend months and months or even years living and breathing Photoshop. Not that there's anything wrong with it cause I really enjoy playing with that software but it would be really time consuming and at the moment I'm not working in an industry that has anything to do with image manipulation.
Photoshop CS5 and 6 have made basic retouching way easier to get a decent result, still takes another level of skill to make something undetectable of course.
Well, I've had all the versions since CS3 and yes, I agree that for example the cloning tools have improved a lot for the latest updates. I guess almost anyone with a little training could do basic retouch work to get rid of the most obvious blemishes like wrinkles or moles but I agree with Natalia Taffarel whose interview I watched some days ago that in high end retouching work there's more to it than that. You need an artistic vision and also to know your tools inside out. I mean I've been using and learning Photoshop for 4 or 5 years but mostly only occasionally and feel that I'd need at least several months studying it very thoroughly to really get to know the software.
I started with Version 5.0, back in 98 I think it was.
I retouched images mainly for weddings and I must admit it's a bit time consuming, but worth it in the end; I got this job while working as a wedding photographer as well. I also high end retouch from time to time and I usually find these jobs online. Sometimes online jobs are a great way to earn money, sometimes it can be quite frustrating when you have to compete with people that charge way less than you even though you can tell they don't have the same quality in work, but that's another subject.
I'm sure things have changed quite a bit since the '90s, that's like ancient history in computer technologies.
You might try starting on odesk.com or elance.com
I'm working odesk and I managed to get a few jobs by now, but it's quite hard competing with people that charge crazy low hourly rates comparing to someone that knows the value of their work and isn't willing to do the job for almost nothing.
Yes, I know those places. I've got some other work from those sites but it's true that it's often not worth the time to bid for some small job because there's a lot of competition and people who will do it almost for free.
It depends on what you mean by "retouching". I've worked as a digital imager for a high-end catalog company, a national prepress house and others. In Miami I was the image editor for Mira magazine and have worked on other AMI titles such as the national enquirer.

If you really want to get into doing this kind of work and set yourself apart from the people who know how to use levels and auto color, you need to learn about the different color spaces and how to color correct and edit images for their specific use. For example, an image edited for CMYK print use is going to be edited WAY differently that one that's RGB and will only be used for the web.

You have to learn to manually do everything, not rely on the auto functions of any tool. You have to learn the why of things too.

I was really lucky in that I started out as a commercial photographer and the studio I worked for went digital very early on. I had always loved macs and had played with image editing (I mean PLAYED) before all this happened so I didn't have much of a learning curve and was tasked with doing image editing as well as shooting. Eventually I got really good at it and started doing more editing for the other photographers than shooting and it just snowballed from there.

I guess to bottom line it, there are great jobs out there for digital imagers (depending on where you live) that pay really good money. There are also TONS of people who know how to adequately use the cloning tool to remove a zit and make simple selections to brighten teeth in a portrait, (plus the people outside of the US who will work for slave labor wages. You probably won't make any money trying to compete against those people, especially on the internet.

My advice to you is to go to school and learn everything you can about image editing and someone will hire you to do that. Also, if you live in a big city and can honestly say you have good basic skills in PS then contact the bigger commercial photo studios, advertising agencies and catalog houses in your city and tell them you're passionate about being a digital imager and ask if they have an apprentice position open. Be humble, be a sponge.

Let us know how it works out, you can do it!