Running Time: 23 minutes
It's been a month since the last episode. Not to mention the complete lack of tutorials. What can I say? I have been busy, and I guess that's a good thing. One night I went off, and recorded episodes 4-8 all at once. I'm not sure what possessed me, but I am thrilled because creating the content requires me to be in the right mindset. I do have to cut this introduction short though, I have a ton of work I need to do tonight. Of course, I've been saying that for 3 weeks now.
In This Episode:
Podcast – Episode 004
Since this podcast is actually international, I’m sure that many of my listeners didn’t even realize that here in the United States on the east coast we had a pretty bad hurricane that went up all the way from the bottom of the USA up to the top. I don’t know where it started I don’t know where it ended, but I know where I am, we got hit pretty hard by this thing.
Overall it really sucked because it really goes to show how uncivilized we would become once our luxuries are taken away from us. We became totally and completely incompetent. Where I live, a lot of what happened was that trees went down, really big trees, big, heavy trees. Some of them came down in open fields, many of them came down on top of powerlines and telephone lines, so essentially what happened was many areas lost power. Entire towns a week later still don’t have electricity. I’m not talking about one or two houses, I mean everything. Entire lives have been thrown upside down, because we have no electricity, which means many people don’t have water, very few people actually had generators or other pieces of equipment that would help them survive.
So it’s really kind of silly, as I have been watching this go on. Now personally, I was actually lucky, we only lost 45 minutes of power in my house, but this has caused all kinds of turmoil for other people. And we wanted to go out for dinner, apparently all these places didn’t have food, because the electricity went out and food went bad. Restaurants were closed. In fact, we drove around 3-4-5 towns and only one restaurant was left open. And that was the fast food chain, Wendy’s. I don’t know why they were open, but they had power and it was interesting to me that this one parking lot that had Autozone for cars, Home Depot for building equipment and Wendy’s for food and this entire parking lot was packed with people and just was getting the few things they needed, because everything else was closed. Supermarkets were closed and everything.
And as time was going on, a lot of things happened that people just didn’t know how to function with. People didn’t have water because the waterplants were down, because they couldn’t do any processing of water because there was no electricity and in general their back up system kind of ran out of water. This is eventually what happened. And even people on well water and whatever else just ran out of water so they couldn’t bath, couldn’t flush the toilet, couldn’t do any of the basic things.
And what happened was that people started going out – not so much neighbors, because they were on the same boat. When neighboring towns actually did have power, they could keep going so people were showering at random people’s houses, and whatever. And for me, my bosses wife came over and she was working here yesterday in my studio and then today, my boss would come here and he was working in the studio, too. And it’s just weird. It’s just a weird situation when everyone is doing this stuff. And in their case, they are freelancers, he is a photographer and she is a designer. And she was trying to get this advertisement piece out and the way of she was doing it was off of an iMac, you know, a normal stand up, desktop iMac and she was working off of a power inverter from the photographer who has this little portable power unit for the flash. So she was plugging it in the computer and working these short bursts to actually get this design thing she was actually committed to, done.
And when she came over she was at the tail end of it but she still needed some regular electricity and then the email wasn’t working, phone systems were down and all kinds of troubles. And when I got out of this, nobody was ready for this kind of power outage, cell phones were working but only in certain areas, and this really disrupted business.
My wife is a regular employee, so while she couldn’t work, they continued to pay her, even though she wasn’t able to perform her duties the way she normally would.
Meanwhile, while I couldn’t perform my duties because I was actually bailing water at my parents house, I wasn’t being paid. And now maybe you can see why I am talking about this. Because when I’m not working on this stuff as a freelancer, I’m not getting paid. And that’s how these other two were working. Because if they didn’t do the work, they weren’t getting paid. And in their case they would also end up losing clients and whatever else if they didn’t perform. So they were scrambling around trying to do this stuff.
This is really the dark side to freelancing. And this is what actually has happened to me the previous week, where I had added this topic. In that case, what I was going to talk about was vacation time. I have taken a week off of vacation and we ended up not being able to do the vacation that we planned, because my car had broken down and I had to spend some 750 dollars or something to fix the car. And then it took up the money we were going to use for this vacation time.
So by paying for the car that was a surprise and I couldn’t go on vacation which meant that I had to stay in work to generate more revenue to pay for it. So after the vacation time, this storm hit and it just kind of struck me that it doesn’t matter what is going on, as a freelancer you still have to continue to work, generate work, and produce the work.
I ended up bringing the studio computer here into my office which because there was no power there either. I ended up having to bring all this equipment to my office here so I could at least continue to work. I guess that the point of this that you have to have some sort of backup plan and that includes those Battery Backup UPS units because electricity can go off and if you don’t have that battery back up, your computer is just off. And that ended up happening to me and I lost 10 minutes of work. I was lucky that I saved those 10 minutes earlier, I was working on something before the storm had actually hit and we just had wind outside, nothing was really going out and we just lost power and I lost work when that happened.
If I had a power back up here which I don’t, then I would not have lost what I was doing. And later apparently I lost about half an hour, I was doing masking. Not the power, or anything I could have done preventing it, but Photoshop had crashed, so I lost half an hour of masking I was doing. Generally, when I’m masking I don’t save often because you got to go, got to save the mask, etc., so I don’t bother to do that. But you know what, this is one of the cases when save often. But I can guarantee you, when that storm was hitting, I was working and saving every 10 seconds. I was getting a little bit crazy with that.
This presents a Segway here for me, as I’m working here because things in my life have been a little bit jumbled. I do have a PC and a Mac sitting here. I have a PC that has a main role in my office and then I also have a Mac here that has a main role in the studio. So I have two different computers at two different locations. And I bring this up because recently I just mentioned in an earlier episode that it didn’t matter if you worked on a PC or a Mac, as long as you could migrate files back and forth, you’re ok. Well, that is technically true, and I’m not exactly back-paddling of that comment, I can’t say this having the Mac and the PC in the studio at the same time I never had 2 fully working, ready to go workhorses at the same location at the same time. Usually I have a junky one next to a good one, or something like that.
But anyway, two power horses next to each other and I got to tell you, this Mac is just so much easier to use. Copying files back and forth is faster, and just even the keyboard, you have to figure out why that is, but the keyboard is always the more comfortable to me and using Photoshop is more comfortable on a Macintosh than it is on a PC. I have no idea why I have been juggling both systems for 27 years. All I can say is that the Mac is definitely an easier system to use. And I think that if you can pick one off of eBay as a used or refurbished unit or something, that is definitely worth the investment.
I think I’m finally going to break down and do that because it’s just so much easier. I guess it came down to copying files onto a flash drive, because one system doesn’t really belong here so it’s not really talking with everything else, the way that it would it was all configured properly, and I just couldn’t be bothered, because it’s going to be gone soon. So just copying everything off to a flash drive, it’s been going really quick on the Mac and really slowly on the PC. And this is a fresh installation. I just recently put on Windows7 64 bit. I’m really not that impressed.
I have been running Windows7 in the past year, plus as a fresh installation, that’s the other thing I can say, that this Windows thing, constantly reinstalling it, the last time I had a complete melt down, everything kind of went wrong with it. Meanwhile this Macintosh, I have never reinstalled the operating system and it was 3 and a half years. This machine just went plugging away. I have always been working the way it needs to work.
So definitely go with the way Macintosh has, it’s what I kind of have to say, because even I think I’m going to break down and get myself a Macintosh, because I looked at eBay and it’s not even that expensive, it’s a full tower, but an older model, you don’t need to get the brand new one, you know, why? Realistically, you get an older one, it may not be as fast, but it’s still fast enough to get the job done. And the cost was under 500 dollars. So I think I’m definitely going to do that. And than I also finally have these 2 monitors next to me, one is a Dell, one is a NEC Monitor. The Dell one is a generic, off the shelf type of 24 inch monitor, and the NEC is a color calibrated, fancy monitor.
Is there a huge difference between them? No, not really. This Dell one is actually brighter and I think actually this is just a matter of color calibration that we do on the NEC. But I’m sure is I put my mind to it I could get this Dell do a very similar color results. Do I think I need to spend a thousand dollars on a monitor? No. When I get the same NEC monitor? It’s a nice monitor, I can pick up a used one or a refurbished one from eBay. And again, you can put together the whole system for under a thousand dollars, I think that’s worth the investment.
I have been working on a portfolio so I’m grabbing some old pieces and new pieces and it’s very easy to get boggeddown putting up 36 media pieces of work, just to show more and more work, because you think that you constantly have to show that you can do this, you can do that, you can do the other thing and you got to show everything under the sun. From my own art school history way back when I was putting together a portfolio, we were always told that you should always put 5 of your best pieces per category, and limit the categories. So I believe I only had maybe 15 pieces total in my old portfolio, years and years and years ago, back when I was in school.
As I’m working on this portfolio now, for this online gallery, it is too difficult for me to limit it to a 5 per category, because I just really want to keep adding everything that I have ever done, but they always say, always leave them wanting more. So I’m really thinking of what kind of work people are going to be interested in when they come and view my portfolio. I mean let’s say I’m out at a convention or other networking situation where I’m going to hand out my business card to people, what type of work am I trying to attract? It is very important to focus.
I don’t want to come across as a naturalist, someone who does animals and trees and sunsets and things, when I really want to do portraits. At the same time, I don’t want to put myself up as I only want to do portraits, if I want to do architecture. So it is really important to focus on what you are good at, what you enjoy doing, and then present that work and go for that target audience. Because if you go out there and advertise that you could do anything and everything, then you are really watering down your effectiveness, so one of the key thing is what I am trying to do with this portfolio, is presenting it in a way that someone who is interested in the portraits, can look at just the portraits.
For someone who is just interested in wedding photography, then they can just go to a very short, quick, 5 images wedding photography. If they can’t decide whether they like my work or not in 5 images, then they are going to be too difficult to work with in the long term anyway. You really want to work with someone who really knows what they are talking about and just know what they like. I know as soon as I see something, I am either hooked or I am not. I tend to make very snap decisions, and overall I find if something attracts me after the first one, I’m probably going to like the fifth one. Maybe something in the middle didn’t necessarily worked for me, but overall if I didn’t like the first one and the second one, I’m not going to like the fourth and the fifth.
Giving them 10 more options just doesn’t do any good to anybody whatsoever. So when it comes to putting together a portfolio, put together the most important, impressionistic piece that is going to get someone’s first impression. You want to limit the categories, while still putting a range of skill into the work.
For example, you don’t want to put together a portraits category and then do 5 of the exact same portraits. That’s kind of a bad idea, too. You want to put together 5 portraits, one might be a close up, one might be just up to the shoulders, another one maybe to the waist, one might be a full figure, and even if you think that’s just putting it a bit to the stretch, going from just a face to a full body, then certainly you can break it up, but don’t just give the face. Mix it up, whether it’s in studio, or outside in some natural setting, just kind of mix it up a little bit. You don’t want to hit people with the same retouching over and over again. You want to mix it up.
When it comes to retouching, you want to put in things that are complicated, and skill driven, something that not just anybody can do, but also keep in mind that the people you are showing this work to, aren’t necessarily retouchers themselves. You can do something very simple and they will be impressed by it. But at the same time you have to have some complicated things in there, like composites, like putting different people at different settings, and kind of mix it up so people can see a range of your work within this narrow niche that you are trying to present yourself in.
Basically all I’m saying is that don’t just put up all this work, put some work into what you are trying to put together and what you want to present. And once you get the framework of it down of what you know you want to show, you might not have enough pieces for that, so you will to put the time in for creating new stuff. I personally have been working on several new pieces, very specifically targeted, so I can include those in the portfolio.
I just have been very distracted with a lot of work lately and none of that stuff can be shown in the portfolio, because of the copyrights and stuff like that. So it becomes difficult for a photo retoucher to put together a portfolio of good, solid work, when they don’t own the rights to any of this stuff. I find the best way is to do this, is just to create your own stuff. Hire models on my own, family members or whatever, I just carry a camera with me all the time, that’s what I’m doing now, so hopefully I can grab a good shot that I can work with later.
Now, to talk about photo retouching portfolios specifically, you need to know the type of work you are going for in order to know what you are going to put into a portfolio book. It can be a physical book or it can be an online presentation. But you need to know what is the person going to be looking for, as I mentioned earlier. If you know that you are going to go to wedding studios to try and show your work, you need to show them that you can do photo retouching. And one of the big things that are going to be coming of asking you about these pieces is, how long did it take you? You know, that is very-very important. Because this may be the best piece they have ever seen, completely flawless. But if it took you 16 hours to do it, and the budget is 1 hour or 2 hours, then it doesn’t do anybody any good. So you need to know how long that niche market is going to spend on a particular piece.
For example: wedding photography. Who is going to take these pieces? Who is going to be the bride? The bride is going to end up buying all these pieces, so you are trying to stay within a budget, unless you get lucky and it’s a higher class wedding but usually these are brides that have already spent all their money by this time, so hitting them up with another $100-200-300 dollars for one image, is not necessarily something they are going to be too quick to do. You need to be able to quickly turn around an image.
Meanwhile, if your target is an advertising agency or some other type of adwork that has these big pockets of budgets, that don’t mind spending 500 dollars on an image, then you can show them the higher end work. But you’re need to be able to segregate it such way, that the ad agencies don’t look at the junk work, which is essentially fast work. And you don’t want the people reviewing the fast work, to be seeing these high end images and thinking that is what they are going to get. So if you can somehow segregate that within a portfolio, that you are presenting the people with, that’s fantastic. Perhaps, separate portfolios. This is one of the things that we have been trying to get around with. Having one portfolio for one audience and building a whole other website for another target audience. It is extra work and something we ultimately decided not to do, but still, it is something worth considering. If you go look on the internet, and do searches for photo retouches which is definitely something I have been doing, you can see a huge range of skill levels. You see people who are looking to do 5 dollars an image, there’s people that are doing 30 dollars an image, and $50 dollars an image.
What you really have to do is read the fine print. Because the people doing $5 dollar per image, are literally doing hack work and their portfolio shows hack work. The people that are doing $30-40 dollar work is really just entry level. That is for them, to load the file up onto their computer and kind of do a simple change. They are making their money by putting time into these images and time is money. So what I am really finding is, that the better the work is, the more it’s going to cost.
Putting up a portfolio on a website that shows us amazing work and then saying $30 dollars per image, is garbage. Because they are ending up getting people at the tail end of this. And it is kind of like going to a mechanic and expecting to spend $300 and then you are spending $700. You are going to end up getting customers that are dissatisfied. So always make sure that the expectation is set.
I’m sure I’m going to be pulling up this portfolio topic again at a later point in time, yes, I have been talking about that 10 plus minutes here, about portfolios, and there is a lot more to say, and I’m just kind of thinking about this as it is in my current state, so I put more thought into it and do a real write-up about this particular topic next time.
Use the Imagenomics Coupon Code: "ARTOFREOUCH" for 20% Off their products. So if you found this podcast inspiring and the video tutorials helpful, please go to www.TheArtofRetouching.com and sign up as a member and you can watch more free videos and tutorials.