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Tools of The Trade

Lesson 23 from: The Business of Professional Photo Retouching

Lisa Carney, Simon Peter Raible

Tools of The Trade

Lesson 23 from: The Business of Professional Photo Retouching

Lisa Carney, Simon Peter Raible

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Lesson Info

23. Tools of The Trade


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Who Should Be a Retoucher?


Genres of Retouching


Comp vs Finish


Lisa's Path to Retouching


Simon's Path to Retouching


Establishing a Look


Who is The Client?


Lesson Info

Tools of The Trade

Tools of the trade. Yay! So what we're gonna talk about here is we're gonna talk about, what do we use to do our job? What kind of equipment do we use? There's a variety that people, and people have different taste, and we're gonna demonstrate that a little bit, so, you have your basic computer. Some folks work off a laptop, some folks work off a tower, some folks work off a Mac, some folks work off their PCs. It doesn't matter, whatever works for you. And we kind of, because we're chalk and cheese and we do everything different, we kind of like to show a little of the difference of what we use. So this is my section, but you can stand next to my section, I'll let you, that's all right. I can feel the power from here. See, that's right. Tower, we both use a trashcan. I call it a tower, that's so old school of me. There is an official term for this, but it's called the trashcan in our house and we have multiple trashcans. And then we do use laptops. How often do you retouch off ...

your laptop, mister? As little as possible. Yes, you've been known to retouch in an airport. I, I retouched only on a laptop for about four years, so I have done it. I've done it in motel rooms, I've done it up in attics. But ... something's gone a little goofy with me in the laptop and the Wacom lately, and I, it might be a driver, it might be something, however, as small as these are getting, I'd rather have this. I'll bring an extra case. I drive around on a motorcycle. This thing fits in the saddlebag of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, so this comes with me, wrapped in a beach towel, almost everywhere. Yep. Lisa and I do workshops in Los Angeles. We could just show keynotes on this, but I like having this because it's reliable. All my stuff's set up, I just, I feel it. It's just my mise en place is right there. Yep. So this comes with me everywhere. What I do with this is, I have bought a couple of monitors and I put them in the houses. So we've got a house up in Truckee, I put a monitor up there. I got a monitor at my son's house in New York and I have one in Los Angeles, and those are my rock solid ones. That's where I'm going to be for an extended amount of time where I can take jobs and go vacation and still make some money. So I bring this on the plane with me in a Pelican case. You do not check it. I check it. You check it now? Oh, I wouldn't check it. I do check it. I carry mine on. In the spirit of a hundred percent difference, look how teeny-tiny this Wacom is. It's his. This is, it fits in his coat pocket He literally has a coat that it fits in his pocket. I think it's ridiculous. It's tiny. Mine, on the other hand, is the largest that you can now buy without it being a Cintiq, and my actual original one is enormous, but they don't make them anymore. So I've had to surrender to a smaller one, so. He makes as much money as I do, and he uses this little teeny $50 Bamboo. Doesn't matter, and I say that because I think people get really jacked up about equipment. Ooh, do I have the right one? Well, I don't know. I can't work on this. I'm gonna share a little something about this. Share away, Lisa. I literally cannot check a file on his computer. The way his computer is set up, and his equipment, I can't make it work. I know this sounds ridiculous, but this is the truth. So when we're sharing jobs and he has to go over a file I'm like, all right, will you turn the layers on? Will you do this? Because everything that he has set up, every action at the speed of his mouse, where the palettes are, how he views his files, is so contrary to how my brain works, I literally have to just stand there and go, all right. Will you fill it with black now please? All right, can we look at that? It makes me crazy. And maybe it's the same on my computer. And it's great. It's, I'm celebrating the difference of us. It doesn't matter, we both get the job done. And then, when I'm called to freelance and I have to go in house at a design firm, I will tell them, have a monitor ready for me. They're like, dude, we've got a whole computer system ready for you, and I was like, I don't want yours. I'm sure it's wonderful, I want to bring mine. And this comes with me, this Wacom, the Wacom pen, the cords, and this, goes in the motorcycle, while we drive down. They hook me into their monitors and as soon as I step in, all the stuff that she was describing, that she doesn't like about working on my stuff, I just sidestep, I don't have to learn their computer setup. My and my little system who are greatest of friends, get right to work. I don't have to set up any brushes, actions, all that. But it's just the feel of it, just how things are and it's muscle memory. I just know that from here to here ... This is really important. From here to here I just hit the filter, a pull down, there is my Gaussian blur, boom. Also, all my keystrokes are, so I also know, Command + Option + B brings up Gaussian blur. All that's ready for me at moment one. I don't need a half an hour warmup time, a get to know you first date. It's right there on the motorcycle, plugged right in. Why that's important is he charges top dollar. He can't show up charging top dollar and fumbling going, oh, how do you make the palettes do that? Oh, do you have the application frame? Wait, what Photoshop are you running? Have you updated this? Because you're charging too much money, and so he brings it, so is it a sacrifice, is he using his own equipment? Yes, but it's worth the rate, I mean. Yeah. And you can sometimes charge a rental if you feel the need; I've never done that. And we've also been toying out with some other ideas. In our industry there's some security issues, right? That they don't, I don't know, you might not know this. There's security issues with entertainment. Everything's on lockdown. Some places, your phones get confiscated when you walk in. You can't transfer files, there's no plugging in. It's locked down and there's a lot of reasons for that that we're not gonna go into in this class. So for folks like us, it's worth the investment of a singular box, a trashcan, for us to pay for a box, leave it at that studio, that's ours, and they'll call us to come in, because then we have the higher speed machine. We'll leave it there, we'll take one that, when everything's done, they wipe it off and we take it home. Why do we do this? Because finishers who come into an agency, when he comes into an agency, he's on some not-so-nice little iMac that the production man is on. They're not, the high-speed computer at that shop, the creative director is on it. They're not leaving it sitting there waiting for the time they're gonna call someone in. So he's on a machine that, is, move, ing, like, this, and he's big bucks. The client's not gonna like what they're, oh, we paid you all this money, and you only got this much work done? We're not gonna call you again. So what we do is we invest a small investment in a box, leave it at that studio, and who do they call first? They call the people with the big bucks. Woo! Glad you said it. Yes, better I said it than you. The other thing I want to talk about, too, are tablets. I do not retouch on a tablet, I'm trying to learn. Mobile retouching is becoming ever so popular. I'm resisting it with every fiber that is in my being, but, you know, I've realized life is changing. I remember those photographers who told me digital was never gonna take over, because I, that's when I graduated, was right at that transition. So, eh, I'm paying attention, so, mobile retouching is becoming a thing. I do not do it yet, I'm learning, but why do I have it? I have it because, I don't know if you guys know this, you can use a tablet with a program called Astropad, and it makes your tablet a Cintiq monitor. So you can make, I know, it's awesome, right? You can make a Cintiq, this is a Cintiq. It costs a gazillion million dollars, it's from Wacom. Or you can use your tablet as a Cintiq and so you can actually paint on the tablet, but it's working on your monitor, your computer. You're basically using your computer, but you're looking at your tablet. Poor man's Cintiq, have at it, it's awesome. So I've been practicing with that, too. I'm really not used to it. There's something about retouching where my pen is, that I feel like my pen is blocking my view, and I'm so used to looking at that, but it's just, as you said, muscle memory. Back in the old days, you used to draw with a pencil on a piece of paper and it was always in the way. No! And in the last 20 years, they used to draw down here and stuff happens up here. I wanted to tell one other story with this. This does traveling, I love this, this flies with me, but, it's undercarriage and I don't, I'll bring a monitor sometimes, and it's just, I usually just have a hundred dollar throwaway monitor and when it breaks, I get another one. But this and then my backup is this laptop, this Wacom here, and this little flash drive, not flash drive, but hard drive. And the story was, my older son and I were back in New York visiting his brother. And the big snowstorm was coming in and we're checking the flights and we're like, oh, they're gonna get us out, and we got out just in front of this storm. Stopped off in Detroit and we weren't taking off. We were there stuck for five, six hours. Called up Lisa, I was like, 'Lisa, did that job come in?' And she was like, 'Yeah.' I said, 'Can you Dropbox it to me?' She said 'Yeah,' so on the Dropbox it goes. I was like, oh, we'll just, I'll get a restaurant with a booth and tell the waiter, we're gonna be here for a while, big tip in it for you, just keep coffee coming. And in this, in the Detroit airport, they have kind of hotel rooms you can rent out. So it was like $40, $50 an hour, and it was a little suite with a pullout couch. It had video games, big television set, personal wifi, and a desk, and I just dropped this in, got the job off of the Dropbox through Lisa. My kid took a snooze, watched some TV games, we went out, brought us back sandwiches, and for six hours, I was getting paid. Instead of just sitting around, wondering what I'm gonna do for six hours. I did a decent portion of a Speedo catalog sitting on a floor in Florence, Italy, on a job. Now, you can't do a one-sheet on a laptop, that's ridiculous, but you can start the masking for a one-sheet. And so what that has afforded us is this ability to have a mobile life, so we can travel. When we come up here to Seattle, we have a station, so when work comes in, we're not turning down work when we need to take work, but we still can go to other places. We travel all over the world, we've been to Iceland, we were able to work while we were in Iceland. I'm not sure about if we can work in Cuba, but we might not need to, I don't know. So why are we telling you this? We are telling you this because, being a retoucher can be an awesome life. You get money, decent money, but you could travel. You can live somewhere else, you're not stuck in one spot. You can get up and move.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

File Naming Convention Sample
Estimate Worksheet Form
Finishing Delivery Example
File Naming Convention Explanation
Worksheet & Billing Checklist
Solar Curves Action

Bonus Materials

Adobe Stock Contributor
Alien Skin Software Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Bill Buckley

I'm a photographer who wants to be as good at Photoshop as possible. In my field few retouchers get hired, so it's all on me. Plus my creative vision cannot be accomplished by photography alone. Not to mention that in the field, as a photographer I can't always be perfect. Photoshop to the rescue. This is possibly THE best class I've purchased on Creative Live, and they've all been good. Great insight, entertaining, well taught Lisa and Simon were awesome. Bought more LC tutorials based on this course.

Kari A. Youkey

This course just opened my world. I started ( back in the Jurassic era) as an illustrator/drafter ( pen and ink), then CAD programmer, then GIS analyst with photoshop just coming onto the scene pregnant and unplugged focusing on parenting and my inner artist. I was gifted an IPad 6 years ago in the mist of my Taxi Mom years. My favorite ‘hobby’ became manipulating images and an addiction to Adobe apps. Now, In my new empty nest status, I have been trying to figure out my next direction in life....and CreativeLive has been a wonderful resource to explore different creative opportunities, feeling somewhere between photography and graphic design, I wanted to ‘paint’ photos with my tool of choice the tablet, not the camera. ...but it wasn’t until this course that I clicked with an Aha! I don’t have to become an photographer? I could get paid to retouch? Other people’s photos?.....and, I have a work history skill set that backs it up! Thank you so much for this course! Loved the instructors and how they shared their experiences and knowledge. You two have just provided a wonderful map and whole new path to explore and inspired a much needed creative spark to get back to work❤️. Thank You!

a Creativelive Student

Lisa knocked it out of the ball park again! Amazing work Lisa and Simon! I just can't find the many words that express how much I gain with each and every course she teaches. Once again, a wealth of information that was given in a down to earth manner. I absolutely love her teaching style! Amazing course Lisa and Simon, awesome job!

Student Work