Lisa's Path to Retouching
We're going to talk a little bit about our process and how we got here. And the spirit of this is to kind of demonstrate that there are many ways, I can't even begin to tell you how different this path has been and we do the exact same job, we've crossed paths so many times work-wise, and yet we could not be more different in our start points and our education, and in our approach, I would say. So, as I said I'm a finisher, designer, retoucher, and educator and why I put all that in there, is I do finishing, you know, I do composites, I like to design, I do like to keep my hand in the design, it's fun it's back to old school. I like photo retouching I like doing just beauty photo retouching and I like to educate, so I hope that's spelled right, I can't spell by the way it's one of my skill sets, is I can not spell, yeah, and I have a company called Finishing Station and I was going to talk a little bit about starting out and how it works and I just want to share when I was about ten ye...
ars old, I made my mama a mother's day card, and I actually have it here, 'cause she just moved, but I wanted to show this, like, I was drawing. I think most of us start out drawing, don't we, you know, that,
All kids draw.
Dang it, they do.
All kids are just like, yeah I can draw let's draw on the floor.
Yeah, my kid doesn't draw, but, so yeah, I started out like most folks, drawing, and wanting to create some kind of work that way, like expressing myself I started taking pictures, this is me with my little sister up in Vancouver, taking, actually older sister, but, taking pictures and then 1985 I'm totally dating myself, oh my lord, I really liked photography, so I would work with, meet people, friends, who could get to a studio and we would take pictures, and that's me when I was a youngin. That's my best friend, she liked him, thought I we took his picture that something could happen, oh to be 18 again and all that good news. So yeah, so I started taking pictures, I never ever ever thought photography was a career choice. I grew up with you know, lawyers and judges, for parents and academia, my sister's a doctor, I mean that's what you do, this art-y stuff, is not what you do so it never even occurred to me. I did want to be an illustrator, so I went to San Francisco State, and I studied art history, and studio design, you know studio, drawing and painting. Loved painting, loved it, I'm a horrible renderer, but I love painting, and I finished up at San Francisco, when I was at San Francisco State, they had an art history program, and I can not stress this enough, if anybody has an opportunity to go live somewhere else, it'll change everything, it'll change everything about you, your vision, how you see light, what you think is possible for yourself. So I went to study art history in Florence, which there's nothing better on the planet Earth, and I came home to Glendale California for about five minutes, a month, two months, and I went oh my heavens, no, I can't do this, I can not do this, and I went back and I stayed in Florence for three years, and I started shooting, before I had gone to Florence I had been accepted to Art Center in Pasadena for illustration, and I went to Italy and I started studying art history, I came back for those five minutes to Glendale, and Art Center said, you know what, no. We don't think you're ready to be an illustrator, and they didn't accept the original acceptance, so I went back to Italy and I was living and I was working and I was shooting, I was taking pictures, and realizing well maybe this is what I should be doing, maybe the photography is an option for me, so I shot a lot and I went back to Art Center, I said, how about photography? And they said, sure, come on down, you could be a photographer, and I specialized in portraiture and one of the folks out there who are just getting started you often realize, you are your own subject because who else are you going to get to pose for you, so I shot myself, that's my sister, all four by five, I shot everything on Polaroid I was a Polaroid fiend, loved Polaroid, so everything was Polaroid type 55. I thought I was going to do fashion, fashion photography but I'm not that girl, and photographing those girls made me feel bad. I didn't feel good about myself, I didn't, it was really devastating, so I thought okay, I'm going to be a portrait shooter. That's what I'm going to do, well, I lived in Los Angeles, and when I graduated from Art Center, owing $100,000 for my degree, there were 150,000 photographers in LA, and the world in which I wanted to shoot, like editorial portraiture and fashion-ish kind of stuff, was all in New York, I didn't want to move to New York. Now do you think I would've checked that out first? Not the brightest child in the world, so I had to start working, I was working, and staying in LA and trying to figure out how I was going to make a career and pay off that loan, I was a photo assistant, I was a darn good photo assistant. And that's me and the Grand Tetons and the Snake River, being a photo assistant, that is one of my main clients to this day, Dana Hersey is a photographer, and I do all his retouching, so I wanted to share that the relationships you make at the beginning often carry throughout your career, and I'm his retoucher I do all his retouching, but he also, he knew my work ethic, he knew I'm a hard worker, my first Photoshop teacher ever, Lynda Emmy, Art Center, that was Photoshop two, and anyways, so I worked, I worked hard, I worked hard to pay the bills as it were. I became a wedding photographer. Four by five wedding photographer, again, not my smartest move, a four by five camera's a little unwieldy, and when you're shooting families and people and there's family issues, also there wasn't a lot of money in it and I had that loan, I had that loan to pay off. And I'll tell you something I learned, when I was at Art Center, Photoshop was just starting. Just, just, just, just starting, and I wanted to, I like compositing, so this is my high school composites, a little politically active, so I already was a compositer, at Art Center I was sandwiching film, and doing prints together so this is all sandwich film, I know it's no good I'm not talking about the quality of it it's more about the process, I was a, like Jerry Uelsmann photography really moved me, Michelle Klempt the compositing stuff, so those are other clues, should you be a retoucher, should you be a compositer, well if you're doing it, then yeah, you should be. This slide here is to give you all hope, anyone who's out there who's just starting, you too can suck, you can suck really badly. My first video box, I'm dating myself because I said video box, they don't exist anymore do they?
That's my brother in law right there, and I got a prop gun, anyway, it's fabulous isn't it? My first piece.
You're already stripping in your own photography?
I am, I was shooting,
With a camera where you had to scan film,
I had to get a prop, too, that was challenging, colorizing black and whites. What ended up happening is I wanted to go work at an entertainment ad agency, and they said if you want, it's called Metaphor it's a finishing house, if you want to work here, you need to know how to mask, and do like cloning, that's all you need to know, masking and cloning, and I said okay. I went and learned that doing these jobs. And then they said okay, you did it, you can come work for us so this is when I was finally at a really decent agency, again it's very very very old, I had to find this off the internet, because I couldn't find my old retouching, anyway, so this is me moving into the real world of retouching and I've been on all these jobs for a really long time and now... I got tired, now I got tired, I got tired of working, how many hours do we work in Hollywood? Good lord, 12 hour days?
Oh for the weeks, yeah, 80, 90, 100 hours.
Yeah, I mean, really heavy duty hours. So I upped and moved, I bought that house. I moved to France and why am I telling you this? I am telling you this because as a retoucher you can work anywhere in the world. I lived right there, the internet was a little spotty, I'd sometimes have to go to these fields with cows and sit with my little laptop and send my files but I was able to live right there, and continue my career, lived there for five years. So, if I'm trying to get a toaster for recruiting people to become retouchers, this is one of the reasons you should become a retoucher is you can live anywhere in the world as long as there's internet. And so then I came home, I came home with my son, and I've been back in Los Angeles for eight years now? Maybe, something like that and doing work and just loving it, I really love it, I think I'm so lucky I get to do what I do every day. It's so fun.