The Business of Professional Photo Retouching

 

Lesson Info

What is The Job?

Destination, we're gonna talk destination. This is. When you're bidding a job, it's, you gotta take into consideration where it's going and how many outputs it's going to go to. So, if they're just asking you to do a wee banner that's gonna be broadcast on a smartphone, that's baby price. It can go very, very large very quickly. That's good to know. However, it doesn't have to be so DPI-dependent because it's the dots per inch is gettin' print up. So you gotta measure those three out now. Add to that would the 4th piece of artwork also be printed at 300 DPI for a bus shelter that you can walk up to and see all the details and whether or not you've done a good job. Now if you have all four of those together, you gotta look at the job differently than just a little baby on your iPhone. Or just the billboard. It's good to know how these things are printed and how many times you can multitask and get the same, get more than one output from the same piece of artwork. And that is part of t...

he math to the job. Yeah, now, so, I really wanna talk about this 'cause I think there's this mis-assumption about our work. So if you're doing a print job and you're doing your average magazine ad, you know, a fairly decent big, or a poster build. If you need to make that for a social media ad, that is not necessarily res it down and call it a day. So I'm gonna give you an example. There was a piece I did with Dana, and it was an advertising campaign for a company that was selling a food product. And it was a very blingy, blingy, red zing-zing ad. Did a beautiful key light on the side. Gorgeous. Lot of detail, very sharp. A lot of detail. And what I mean by detail, I mean also fully in focus, everything, every hair showing, all the clothing, everything detail, detail. Well when you reduce that magazine-size ad down to a web banner, that rim light looked like bad masking. And have any of you every tried to take rim lighting out of a photo? It ain't necessarily easy. It's easier to shoot it without it. So you wanna know that in advance. If it's gonna be reduced down, what's gonna happen to the piece. And I think there's, honestly, there's this misconception that, "Oh yeah, just take the art and res it down and boom, you're done." No. And it works the other way, too. If you, you, personally, were asked to build a magazine piece, key art, and they were like, "This'll take so long, have it ready for us in two days." You, in all your infinite wisdom, knew the next phone call comin' down the line they're gonna ask for the poster. So now, here's the little one, great, we love it, rebuild it poster-size, please. Lisa goes and builds the poster size. So again, learn, it happened once, it might happen a second time. By the third time, you're ready for it. Right, so on the same note of knowing your destination, when you're estimating a job, 'cause it's all about business, money and business, so when you're estimating the job, if you know it's gonna go to outdoor later, you build your file differently. And you estimate differently. 'Cause you know what's coming. So, the example that you're mentioning. It was for television, and TV they always did posters. Well I'm fast, I'm a pretty fast builder, so in the same time that I could produce that one, do you guys remember TV Guide? (audience agrees) And when it was really popular? Well one TV Guide ad is a $100,000 buy back in the day. One black and white TV Guide ad, $100,000 buy. That means that's what they have to pay just to have it in TV Guide, not my retouching time, not the photographer, none of that. So I would build that TV Guide ad in color, even though it's a black and white ad, at full poster size, 'cause I'm not an idiot. I know it's coming. But I could do it in the same allotted time for that small one, and when they came the next week to get the poster, it was done. Well because I worked for an agency, they priced per piece. They charged per piece. And that piece had a value. So they basically got a full job, a full two, three-day job gratis from me. And you know what that meant? That meant I was asking for a 20% raise every year, because I knew how much I was making the company. That meant when I decided to have a baby, they let me have my kid in my office for two years with a nanny, because I was a cash cow. And I mean that in the most loving way, you can say a cash cow. I made them money, and I knew it, I knew I made them money. And it's because I was thinking ahead. And then I was able to work from home whenever I wanted, whenever I wanted, because I had the company's best interests at heart, and, more importantly, I told them. What do I mean by that? I mean while I was doing this, I was letting the powers that be up the food chain go, "Hey look how much money I'm making you, hi." (finger snaps) "Got my back? I got yours." And that's an important thing. If you're doing something profitable in a multi-chain company, meaning you're, you know, employee number 50 out of 250, you need to let the people up the food chain know that you understand this process, and you're makin' 'em money. Toot your own horn. Yes. From time to time. Yes. And another addition to this, when we do the outdoor stuff, they would come in with a billboard, and it's usually 14 by 48 is the aspect ratio. And they would say, "We're gonna do a billboard this big." I say, "Fine." So I figured out the vertical, and then I added in plenty of background so it would cover that. The next ask I heard was, "We're gonna do this next size billboard, we need another two feet of background added onto the left side." I'm like, "Okay." I sit down, I add more artwork, send it off. The next thing comes in, "We need now two feet to the other side, can you add that on?" And I'm like, "Okay, this is happenin' a lot." At the end of that day, I went over to the production artist, the person who has all the mechanicals, all the breakouts, and so I know of the vertical, the horizontal and the two, add to the right and to the left. I said, "Is there any more beyond these four?" And they're like, "Oh, yeah man, there's like 15 of 'em." I was like, "Okay there's 15, are there comps of these?" "Yeah." So now I said, "Take the artwork, line up all those artworks, all the people and all the logos line up, and then put the mechanical around, and just build out so I can do one piece of artwork once, give it to you, and now it'll just fit right into each one of these asks, one of these different size mechanicals." Next day-- The company charges for each one of those. Each one of those has a price tag, so the company says, "Here's your 15 invoices." I've built one piece of art. One time I had to add onto it three different times, but after that I go in and I know right away there's gonna be a lotta different breakouts for this one piece of art. And I got the call 'cause they're like, "Raible got it done quick." Yeah. And he got it done pretty cheap. But you're payin' for his experience and his expertise to come in and sort that stuff out. I come in, I ask for that right away, how many breakouts are there gonna be? I get all those mechanicals lined up. I build one gigantic, huge piece of art, and I give it to my production artist, and we can knock 'em out. All 15 of 'em in a day, day and a half. So what that means, that means knowing your job. You know to ask in advance. If I get a one-sheet bid, I always ask, "Is there a two-sheet, is there a 14 48, is there plans for something." And I know that, and that makes for job security. 'Cause people wanna call me, because I'm asking. And oftentimes what you'll get is, "Oh, oh yes!" So, Netflix for example, if you do art for Netflix, I'm gonna get the number wrong here, but it's something in the vicinity of 35 different breakouts you need for Netflix. They don't tell you that when you get the job, as a finisher, when you're hired. I know to ask. Okay, and so why are we talking about this in the money section? Because you need to ask, so when you bid the job, you know what you're bidding for. We are gonna talk, I'm gonna move on to production if Please do. that's all right for a second. We're gonna talk about the file size versus viewing distance for a second. So, when you're bidding your job, are you looking at it here or are you looking at it on the wall? Because that's gonna change how much retouching you need to do, and you have to write that down. In the production side we're gonna talk about really building a job, not what they tell you to do, but what you're really gonna do. And what I'm gonna say is, if you notice this, right here, it says 351 megabytes flat. An average movie poster build, one-sheet, flat, RGB, is 351 megabytes. How many layers can you imagine are in a movie poster? A gazillion, million, billion. You ain't buildin' that size. You can't. It'll take you forever. It would be foolish to build at that size. Many people build at that size. When the original was only that big. And that's time and money. Everything is time and money. So we're gonna talk about that in the production side, but I want you to know it for the bidding side. Because if you're gonna bid, for example, an outdoor campaign, and you are gonna bid it at the size they're giving you, you need to up your rate, because there's gonna be wait-time like nobody's business. Because imagine how big those files would be. And I don't think people, as a general rule, take in wait-time, processing time, when they're bidding a job. And you can't work when your machine's working. You can go feed your chickens, you can do some knitting, you can do some laundry, but you're not working. So you're not earning income. And part of that experience and expertise when folks are getting into billboards, and they're doin' a lotta small little finessy things, Lisa and I can at least try to educate 'em and say, "Look, this thing's gonna get printed at 15 to 30 DPI, which is pretty low. These intricacies that you're spendin' all this money and time on are not gonna be printed, and it's gonna be that far away, so you're never gonna get right up on it. Thirdly, if it's outside, you're gonna be moving past it. You're gonna be in a car, you're gonna be in a train, you're gonna be walkin' by it, lookin' on your phone. So it only has to be that important." They might override you and say, "Yeah, but it's important to us 'cause we wanna take this piece and put it on a website to promote ourselves later." But at least you've told 'em, at least, I don't wanna say it makes you look smart, but you're sharin' the intelligence. Well, aside from making you look smart, I call this ask, inform and document. And why? Because they're gonna yammer about the bill being too high. Because he was doing filigree on something that's this big on a poster that you drive by at 90 miles an hour. Ask, inform and document. So you ask 'em, "Hey, you sure you wanna spend this much time and money, are you sure? Great. You're sure, because it's gonna cost you this much money. Yes, great." And it's documented. And when you bill it, you document that, that you've asked. You've informed. So that they're not gonna try to get you to cut your bill at a later date. I'm gonna say it. So what happens is, I know, I'm tryin' to edit myself but maybe I shouldn't. Here's what happens. We are at the very bottom rung of the food chain. The printer is below us. In terms of the timing, you know what I mean, like the creation, the idea, the whatever, the talent, the work, there's us retouching, and then it goes to the printer, and then it's out, out in the world. So, there's a lotta decisions that happen before it comes down to us, and the money is equally as gone as we are at the lower station. And so folks don't wanna pay at that point. They're over budget, they're over time, all sorts of stuff is happening. It's really imperative you protect yourself. And you document and you cover your hiney, because I'm not paying for someone else's bad decision-making. I used to. You used to. I did. And I say that with love. We don't do that anymore. Learn from our mistakes, man. Yeah. This is us, this is 50 years' worth of this kinda experience, so we'll tell ya-- Yeah. What to look out for. Don't pay for someone else's bad timing.

Create your own retouching business from the ground up. In this class, one of Hollywood¹s hottest retouchers reveals the secrets to designing your own business. Lisa Carney walks through the steps needed to start and run a smooth business while keeping your clients engaged and happy. Whether you’re looking to work with photographers, agencies or even bill for post production - you’re bound to find valuable insight into the world of photo retouching.

This class covers:

  • Defining the type of retoucher you want to be
  • Solutions for the problems you’ll encounter on shoots and in post production
  • Communication techniques for clients
  • Secrets for setting realistic expectations from markups through revisions
  • Pricing your services and handling billing issues
  • Emergency tips for when jobs go off the rails

Get the inside scoop from a true insider. You’ll finish this class knowing how to construct a profitable photo retouching business model AND develop the tools to sustain it.

 
 
 
 

Reviews

  • 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.
  • 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 then...got 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!
  • 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!