Running Time: 15 minutes
I fixed the link problem, for anyone who noticed.
Welcome everyone, to the second episode of The Art of Retouching's audio podcast. I have been taking notes for 2 weeks, and I am so ready to get going on today's show.
In This Episode:
- Employee to Freelancer
- Macintosh Vs. PC
- Getting Out There
- Harder Than I Thought
- Robot Art
- Getting Ahead
While technically, I have been a freelancer for several years, half my income has been from a single photographer. In an effort to get away from the standard employee schedule, I am working on a portfolio to go out and find more freelance opportunities. I had my assistants collect the names of all the local photographers within 30 miles of the studio. Then I had them collect all the advertising agencies, magazines and modeling companies in Connecticut and Boston. Of course, the obvious question is: Why CT and Boston? Well, I live in CT, and there are several targets near the New York border. I chose Boston instead of New York for obvious reason of too much competition in New York. I would rather be a big fish in a small pond, than a small fish in the big pond.
Last year, I read an article about Boston Photographers. The short of it, was that the opportunities were good, and less competition. Besides, my wife would move back in a heartbeat if I gave her the chance. I could see it for myself too. I lived there about 10 years ago when they were still tearing up the city with that Big Dig mess.Someone described it as open heart surgery, while jogging. Yeah, I could vouch for that. I hated all the traffic, that just isnt there anymore. There was also a growing number of violent acts back then. So, it was time to move.
I spent the next few years doing the corporate thing. Going from one service beuru to the next. I hated being on that merry-go-round (round-a-bout for you brit's), never knowing whether that was the day I needed to work for 12 hours as a slave, or 12 minutes and be fired. My wife thought I was incompetent. I knew my bosses were the incompetent ones. She just never wanted to hear about it. She only saw me out of a job, not how many customers they kept loosing because of poor business. Since I was always one of the highest paid employees, I was usually the first to go.
Four years ago, I finally realized that after 20 years of 40-60 hour work weeks, it just was not for me. This was just before the big economic downturn. I had purchased a house to flip it, but as I was remodeling it, the value began to slip. I ended up renting it out, and started making quite a lot of money on it. In fact, that first year, I think I made more than if I was to have sold it. It was a good deal.
At that point, I was laid off (although, why they even employed me in the first place, is beyond me, I never did anything).I spend a few months wandering around, trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do. I was finally faced with a cold hard fact, that I had known about for years; the printing industry was dying. It was finally time to change my career, and do what i really wanted to do. The only problem was, I didnt know what I wanted to do. Computer Repair? Photo Retouching? What I really knew was, if I was going to build a business, I did not want to be limited by location. For printing, certain States had a ton of work, like Florida (for cheap labor), Texas (for location), or New York (for magazines). Sadly, I knew I wanted to live in the Caribbean. Not much work for printers in there. So, I needed to do something else.
I knew of 2 people that became millionaires by selling cellular phones, so this seemed like a good idea to me. I guess it was, because I still own my own independent cell phone business. Please note, I did not say store. A store implies I like to sit around all day, locked behind a counter, hoping I can make enough to pay the bills.
Instead, I built a website, www.Portable-Fun.com It is an online, and craigslist business. Four years later, I am still doing it, so I guess it was a pretty good idea.
Three years ago I applied for a job with a Photographer, and I am still there as well. He goes out and takes pictures, and brings them back for me to make pretty. He won't directly admit it, but it's because of the color correction and retouching detail, that really puts his work ahead of the competition. I go to photographer websites, and just know that some quality retouching could take their stuff from good, to great. That's where I come in.
The photographer and I decided to start up The Art of Retouching last October. The thing is, he fell into the holidays like so many do, and dropped the project. In the meantime, I built the website you see today. While he is still "thinking" about retouching, I built an entire business around Free Adobe Photoshop Tutorials. That is the difference between thinkers and doers. If you are "thinking" about doing something, stop thinking, and just do it. Geez, what do you have to loose? Put yourself out there. What does it matter? You will figure it out. More on that whole topic another day…
Back to the story… a few weeks ago I remodeled my office, so that I could purge out the cell phone business from my active life, and focus on the retouching. I emptied out half the room, painted the walls, and rebuilt my desk (it was 8 years old, chipping, bending, and ready to go bye-bye). Did I need to do this to function? No, of course not. Everything worked fine. But like I said, sometimes you just need to purge your life, and get ready for something new. Since I could not just quit my cell phones business, I moved cell phones to the other side of the room, and gave myself a clean slate. It was a lot of work, but gave me a week and a half away from the norm, kept my hands busy, and let me start a fresh new business.
Last week, I went out and bought myself a new point and shoot camera. A Nikon S8100. Standard pocket sized, it outputs 12MP, 10x optical zoom (awesome!), HDR, image stability and low noise. A far cry from my 5 year old point and shoot, I will tell you that. Of course I wanted a big assed DSLR, but don't think I could get a single lens for the same $250 I paid. I have a 4 year old boy, so in life, there are trade-offs.
I also signed up for a Meetup.com Group last week, and joined other photographers in a Maternity Photo Shoot. I walked in, and the head photographer looked at my hands, then my chest, then my face. "Where is your camera?" he asked. "Right here" I said, holding up a hand sized camera. "I am not a photographer, I am a retoucher. I am not here to take a perfect picture. I am here to take a mediocre picture, and make it great." He paused for a moment thinking about what I had said. "Fair enough." was his reply. This began a three hour session of meeting a few local photographers, who were ALL looking for a local retoucher.
As it turned out, they would either do it themselves, or sent the work out to be done somewhere far away. They wanted someone nearby, so that they could art direct in real time, or hand off large amounts of data to. You know those wedding people, taking 1000 images at 25MB each.
In the group, I met a wedding photographer, a portrait photographer, and a corporate photographer. Three different styles of work, each interested in my services. So, clearly I could start a business doing what I loved to spend my time doing. All I needed to do was go to where the work was. Crazy. Simple. Effective.
So, what can you take away from my story? First, you need to know what you enjoy doing. Then you need to figure out how you can make money by doing it. Lastly, you need to just do it. I hate being a motivator. It's really not my thing. I'm just saying that I have tried dozens of different things in my life. I was never afraid to try.
Once, while on unemployment, I spent what little money I had, on buying about a dozen keyboards. Why? Because I kept cutting them up with my dremel, trying to create something the world had never seen before, in computer gaming. Was it bad idea? For me it was. Cost me hundreds. For Belkin, a year later they called their direct rip-off the Nostromo. My lesson from that? Don't create new products that I can't afford to defend in court.
A question that I faced for years, is if using Adobe Photoshop CS5.5 on PC is better or worse, than working on a Macintosh. My personal experience, is that as long as you have a really old Mac for compatibility with industry standards, then no, it does not matter.
Using a PC for Adobe Photoshop is not professional suicide. Half my audience is on PC's.
Here is an example; I would rather buy a crazy powerful PC that I built myself for $1500, and use a 10 year old Mac just to read and write disks from the customer. Keep in mind, Adobe Photoshop is not desktop publishing, which is a completely different beast. Expecting a PC to use fonts from a Mac is going to cause more headaches than it's worth. While I have not tried to bring inDesign or Quark files back and forth for many years, I would assume the same problems exist in compatibility. But for Adobe Photoshop, as long as you are color calibrated, and can read a Mac disk, you should be good to go.
In my testing, the monitor is the most important part. So if you are going to invest, it should be on a quality monitor. Even if you color calibrate a high end monitor, and a low end monitor, they never seem to look the same. Sadly, between a good monitor and color calibration kit, you are looking at over $1500. But sometimes, you just need to invest in your business if you want to do it professionally.
If you do want to go with a Macintosh, you can always get an iMac for $1,200. It's only 21", but the base hardware will do the job. If you know a teacher or student, you can get discounts, so you should definately look into that first.
Once I put my mind to something, it is pretty easy to get started. Keeping that momentum going is always the hardest part. The best way to do that, is to surround yourself with people who you aspire to be like.
That is why looking for a Meetup Group or similar is important. The issue with putting yourself out there, though, is being ready for the personal attack. Remember what it was like in high school? Half the people have something negative to say. It is difficult to put yourself out there when people are whispering about you. Just remember that if you have not pissed off someone today, then you haven't said anything.
I mean, you don't think everyone who has come to this website has signed up as a member, do you? No, of course not. I am just passed the point of worrying about it. I am too busy focusing on the people who actually do enjoy what I have to offer. Surround yourself with positive, and you will get positive. Surround yourself with negative, and.. well… you get the idea.
I actually fooled myself into thinking that if I was to create an Audio Podcast, I would be able to keep a few notes, record for 20 minutes, and post it done.
I guess not, this is time consuming. I found that if I just talked from scattered notes, I would Um and Ah way too much while I thought about what I had to say. In the end, I had to go back and edit it all out anyway. Please understand, it was every 5 seconds. Even I could not listen to it. Then I had to have a transcriptionist retype it all anyway. Too much work. This time, I just typed it myself before hand. Much easier to get my thoughts across.
But doing this whole video and audio thing is a ton more work than I ever expected. With all this content being free, it just seems silly to spend this much time on it. Thankfully, the Affiliates and advertising on the site generates revenue for me. So, that's good news. I can keep on doing this. I feel better, as I know how few websites focus on a solid foundation before teaching all kinds of Adobe Photoshop tricks.
When I watch or listen to stuff for learning purposes, it just seems like I have to wade through hours worth of stuff before I come across that little gold nugget. I sure hope that I am providing a better use of your time by learning, and not drooling on your desk with a blank stare on your face.
To get off on a slight tangent about audio podcasts, it's kind of funny to me how many shows I listen to, that are able to talk for 30 minutes, and not actually say anything. It drives me nuts. Only because to title a show about something, then go off for fifteen minutes about their personal life. Is that what I am doing here? Not directly, as I am not promising anything with this show. If you want to learn something specific, please go watch a tutorial. This is just entertainment.
But, here was my point (as if I really have one); I listened to a show today where the woman said to watch out for the people promising you the sky in their training seminars. She was talking about those Online Networking things where they promise you will wake up in the morning rich if you sign up for their course. She said that they may just be all talk, and not actually successful at what they do. I just thought it was funny timing, because I just found a show yesterday, where the guy had a DAILY podcast about online marketing, and that I should buy his course.
All I could think about was how much time he must have on his hands to create a daily Podcast. I know how much work is involved in my semi-weekly stuff. He must not actually do anything else, but sell this course. So, you should definately do your research before buying any courses. I know in the retouching area, there are several products, and they all cost over $100 dollars. So, you should read some reviews on blogs about it, before buying. Honest testimonials are always the best. Earlier this week I paid about $150 for a video from a famous retoucher. I liked the index list of topics, I liked the video trailer, and most importantly, other retouchers really liked it.
I came across a retoucher who turned the people in his portrait photographs into robots. I know, it doesn't sound like a work of art, but it sure is impressive. The artist actually does a variety of different things. Definately worth checking it out at links.theartofretouching.com/robotart and also links.theartofretouching.com/robotart2
Finally, one night I did what I said I was going to do, and I created a bunch of videos to work on as time allows. This was so much more efficient to sit down once than to spend several sittings picking out topics. Now that the hard work is done, I just need to edit the content as I have free time. Since I have starting to get back into the rythem, I was able to createa few new videos, this audio, and several articles that you may not have even seen. I either do them for Google Search reasons, or other websites.
The general point is, I have finally gotten back up to speed with several topics, and not spending my time doing bills, pushing papers, or other office work I hate. Since I fought through it the past few weeks, now I only have a few things on my to-do list. I feel much more like a freelancer, making my own schedule, than every waking moment being spent on working. I hate working. I much prefer playing. In fact, I think I will go outside and spend the rest of the day playing with my son. That seems like a much better way of spending my day.
If you found this Podcast to be inspiring, please go to www.TheArtofRetouching.com, and watch an Adobe Photoshop Tutorial Video. When it’s finished, go outside and play. You will be glad you did.