Running Time: 28 minutes
In this 5th episode of The Art of Retouching Podcast, we will be talking about Getting Organized. I talk about good software, and bad habits. I offer some suggestions that can help keep your work on schedule, and avoid missed billing opportunities. I also discuss specific areas of retouching that are overworked and create a completely fake looking image. Later, I give some information about how to sign up for a Two and a Half Hour Digital Imaging Class for only $1.00. Yes, a dollar. No strings attached. I also give information on the new Beginner and Intermediate Photoshop Classes that will be coming up.
In This Episode:
- Getting Organized
- Retouching Overkill
- $1.00 Digital Imaging Class
- Beginner and Intermediate Photoshop Classes
Podcast – Episode 005
Anyway, to get into things, I just wanted to start by talking about being organized. As I mentioned in a previous episode, I had disrupted my workflow because of a recent storm that we had, so I have extra computers in here and I’m taking on extra work. I am a little bit confused, as far as taking notes and making sure that everything is taken care of. This is why I’m taking notes so everyone gets paid and everyone gets billed as they supposed to.
I started working the same way as I always do, which was with sticky notes. Not the little ones, I can’t stand those things, but I actually have several pads of these larger sticky note things, and it allows me to get out quick pieces of information, I can stick them off to the side when I need to reference it later, I can. If I ever want to consolidate that information, I can just write a new sticky note, it might sound as extra work, but with things that are important to me, for example a To-Do list – I have a big To-Do list, 20 to 50 things – anyway, I write them all down, I cross them off as I go, and then when the list becomes really dirty or scratched off or whatever, I start rewriting a new one. And that just allows me to decide if I’m going to bother to write something down, because a week later it might not be that important or it’s already done or something, so I can just leave it off.
Basically, it’s just a mental intent that something still needs to be done because it was important enough for me to write it down again. So the point of this, is that I just started keeping these sticky notes for job information. I just write the job name, and how long I started working on a per image basis, and the same sticky starts getting more time? I’m working with this or with that, and then that’s a different job, I pull out another sticky note, attach it to the table, and basically after a couple of days working like this, I was just left with a whole bunch of sticky notes. They are full of important information, useful information, how long I worked on an image so we know how much to bill for and all that kind of stuff, and it is important to have, but writing them down on a sticky note and sticking them on the desk is not the most efficient way to work.
I needed to come up with a new way to organize my work, because when I start a new business, I must be much more organized, because the way to make money is to have a very standardized workflow, to know how things are done, I have to present an organized pricelist, based on that this is what you want, this is what is going to cost. This way there are no surprises for people. Automating things is the most useful way of succeed in business. If this happens, you automatically do that. There is no question, there is no thinking. Having canned email responses is also very important.
Anyway, I needed to come up with a workflow that works with retouching, that would allow me to properly track the jobs, that is not going to be left clattered around my desk,or on the computer as well. I’m working on different machines and that is definitely adding to the confusion of my life, so I really need to button this up and focus on what I’m doing. It is very important to keep job notes before and during the work, so they can be referenced after, they can just be entered into a generic price and billed out to the person that needs to pay you.
Sticky notes = bad, Excel document = good.
We used to use for “everything” tracking, was “Now Up To Date” Software. It was a calendar program that would let you keep track of meetings, appointments, jobs, schedules, things like that. It also had tasks, to do and stuff like that.
It also had a separate program called “Now Contact”, which allowed you to put in all your contact information like different clients, email addresses, phone numbers, keep notes about each individual person. So this was an all-in-one software, but the problem with it was that they went out of business sometime back and we didn’t know what else to use.
I did a lot of exhausting searches, and basically a lot in this category was broken. It was a lot of piece-meal, like you could use a Google Calendar, then you had to use another 3rd party software in order to make Google Calendar talk with the Macintosh Calendar. Nothing was seamless. Then you have iPhone apps, etc, a lot of back and forth and none of it really worked particularly well.
I did eventually came across a software called Daylite from MarketCircle. What that software does, is the exact same thing. The whole thing is a self-contained program, it lets you jump between different tabs, and with these tabs it would have a calendar view, where you can keep all off your scheduled appointments and stuff, it had a contact view that would list all your contact information in categories. It also has extended features that just kept going into categories that we had no particular need for.
The software wasn’t all that cheap, it was about $ 150 per seat, as well as a $ 150 for an iPhone application that will automatically sync with the server. But as you can see, what I just said, made it very useful because everything was a seamless, synchronized system. And basically what it will do, is if you made an update to a task, or add a new calendar entry or something, that information propagates over to this iPhone application so you can take it with you and if you want a contact information for somebody, you would take that information and add that to the phone. So it’s all very seamless.
There’s things to like about the software and things not to like about the software, I mean some of the downsides to it is that its core is an older system, so it’s missing some features that we would like for it to do, but they continually update it and they do add new features to it, they keep going but they don’t fix the older broken things. I think in my opinion, there’s definitely things they should take a moment to go back to it, but are you going to do? I have pointed it all out to them, in person, as a matter of fact, I have met them once at a trade show, but nothing was ever done with it.
Anyway, we do use that for job tracking, we have individuals that have specifics to-do lists, jobs, scheduling and we are able to keep track of the ins and outs of our photography studio/retouching studio. All this information just was quite seamlessly was brought over from that now up-to-date software. We just told that this is the old database and we are making a new database and it imported everything. It wasn’t 100%, we still had to go through all this old legacy stuff and it was a good time, but it ran and did an excellent job to update.
So if there is anybody out there that is actually looking for this type of software, I would definitely recommend this Daylite software, it does an excellent job, and it is from a company called Market Circle.
Just to end my thought on this particular topic, what I ended up doing after working in my office for about 2 weeks after all this extra work to keep myself organized, I ended up getting a simple notepad, and inside of the notepad I would just put larger pieces of information I need to keep track of. It’s not organized by any stretch of information, but at least I have more room to work and put things down and I can just turn a page.
I do still use the sticky notes, I keep track of my minutes and hours that I’m working on a particular job, and then there are certain jobs that require a finesse of what time was spent on an image basis, but basically I just created an Excel document which kept track of the job name, the amount of time I worked in round one, the amount of time I worked in round two, how much time I spent on emails or phone calls and a single column that added all the stuff up into hours and minutes that I have actually worked. It wasn’t crazy, I mean everyone can figure out how to do that, but it just took a little bit of time to work out something that I can reference and keep an update, a log that would keep track of that information for me. So I can translate that information from these sticky notes over to that larger Excel document that is keeping track of things better for me.
Personally I’m just kind of hooked on these larger sticky notes. I don’t like having sticky notes everywhere, so I do use a sticky note program on my computer, I keep track of these sticky notes on my PC and I use a program called Notezilla, and I think it was like $30 but it was well worth the money. I bought this years ago and it allows me to keep sticky notes, long term sticky notes. Basically it’s just categorized information so when I’m ready to go back and reference something, that information is easily available to me.
I also use Microsoft OneNote, which is part of the Office package, and I use that on my tablet PC. Not tablet with your fingers, but the old tablet PC where the screen would swivel and then close, and you pull out a pen and write on the screen. I’m still a big fan of those, I think they are a little bit on the heavy side, based off of the current technologies with these thin iPads and other Google portable devices.
If I could get one of these finger tablets with a pen, that would be totally awesome. That is something that I want to look into, because I do write a lot. And that is one of the things that I find, in my new tablet what I am missing out on. All I seem to do is watch TV that I download, or I use the Internet for quick references. I don’t really use it for what I use a regular tablet for.
Like I was saying, I like to use OneNote where I have different folders and I keep track of hand written information, where I can type the information in, so these are just the variety of different ways that I keep track of different information. I used to be crazy with sticky notes everywhere and when I became so overloaded I have gone to Notezilla, which allows me to keep all that information segregated and hidden until I need it and I can access what I am looking for. Same thing with OneNote: I can forget about information until I actually need it, I can go back to these different notebooks and pages, and pull up these old notes that I have and reference them. Since most of them are typed already, I can just copy and paste.
One of the benefits of OneNote is that you can actually do searches on your handwriting because it has character recognition. It’s pretty good software, I have been impressed with that for many-many years ever since it came out. And as software versions, this has gotten better at the handwriting recognition, searches and other ways of the old elements. It is very similar to Evernote, we can copy and paste information and keep track of things and drop in pictures and stuff like that.
Basically I just gave you a whole bunch of software options, to keep track of all this information that otherwise leaves us completely buried under paper in a supposedly paperless society.
When is it too much retouching? That is an interesting topic. This came up a few weeks ago, with that whole Julia Roberts topic, when it didn’t even look like Julia Roberts any more, it looked like some porcelain doll or something, because it was so retouched, it was just junk, really. So it was just too much. Personally I feel that getting rid of facial blemishes and brightening eyes and fixing hair, things like that are all very important. Even adding some artificial shadows, giving it a nice look, it all looks fantastic, it’s just at some point, where the pores go away and it just becomes this blurred gunk – I don’t even know how to put it, it’s just like when I see it, it looks so bad. And these people are thinking that it looks good.
No, I’m not talking about professional retouchers, they always seem to know when to stop, it’s just these 3rd World countries or something where they are doing this stuff, it just looks bad, comes off bad, and they just don’t know where to stop. This issue comes up with amateurs as well, where it is just being shown to do too much. Once you start retouching, you just keep retouching, retouching, retouching, it’s all too much!
My motto is that “I have done the best job, when you can’t tell that I have done anything at all.” And that’s true. If you take so many pictures or a portrait, all I do is make them have glowing eyes, not like bad glowing eyes, but happy, glowing eyes, bright eyes. The teeth: bright, white, but they are not bright white. There has to be that grounding and realism, that is always important to me, and that’s the way I do my retouching and which is how I always teach my retouching.
To me I think that is all very important, and when is it too much? I don’t know… it’s always a judgment call, but the point of a professional retoucher that may look like they go overboard, but that’s a stylistic intent, and that is different than just doing too much and making it look bad. A lot of times that type of over-retouching comesin if someone zoomed all the way in, like when you have a single eye covering the entire 24 inch monitor and they are just going away with the tiniest brush possible. That never ends well, it just doesn’t.
When I work, I back off. I was always taught, and I’m not saying this is best, not to zoom in more than 400%. Obviously that is just a very rough estimate; you can always find reasons why you have to zoom in more than 400%. But the only point is, just take it as a whole. When you are working on something, work on it as an overall, and yes, you have to zoom in to get into the final details, but then back out, don’t be afraid to come back and revaluate where you are. Did that change work? Did it not work? These things are important. If you want to do this successfully, it is very important to going in and coming out, don’t just get locked into that zoomed in part because you will just overwork it. Guaranteed you will overwork it and when you come out, that person just has a great white eye. You could just fill the whole thing with white and it would look the same.
So definitely pull things back and when at all possible, work on a separate layer for a limited area. You don’t want 2 million layers, but work on something that adjust your opacity, I do that often, if I’m whitening somebody’s eyes and I over whitened them, then just pull it back a little bit. How I work, that seems to work for me. Same thing with the teeth. I go a little bit too far, then I pull it back, as a global move. Whether it be the whole image, whatever I’m working on, or just that particular layer.
More recently, I have been doing some architectures stuff and I’m breaking up these rooms, like the pictures where someone is standing in the living room and they are taking a picture of the kitchen, which then goes out to the back patio. So I’m using my masking and my layering in order to break it up by room. The foreground room should be darker because I want the eye – your eye, the viewer’s eye – to go into the next room which is brighter, so you can see the detail in there, which then goes outside which looks – I’m not going to say the brightest – but the point is it is not just a flat image, there is some layering going on and density. That is achieved by being able to manipulate the opacity of different layers or adjustment layers or retouching layers and just having that flexibility afterwards is when it is important because working on the layer, I do it and I think it looks ok, I save the file and I close it, and then when I show my partner what I have done, he has that free objective eye. If not myself, when I’m looking at it later, and say: Ah, you know what would help? If I did this and I did that and it would give this a more balanced look. But you need the flexibility to do that if you start working completely on a whole new layer or doing retouching or the spotting and cloning or whatever on a single layer, then everything sticks together and you can’t break things apart and it just becomes a tougher way to work. When doing in pieces and someone says: Hey, can you just fix that? You can just go right to that layer, change is made.
Definitely watch some of my video tutorials on how I do work, I don’t know any particular video off hand, but there are some of those more advanced ones where I start working on different layers and things and then you can see how I break things apart, so you don’t get locked into making changes being more trouble than they worth.
The Art of Retouching Website is about to have it's first year anniversary. To celebrate, I would like to offer all my Website Visitors, Podcast listeners, iTunes and YouTube subscribers a special offer. I am going to be kicking off a series of all new classes aimed at teaching everyone about Digital Imaging, Adobe Photoshop, and Professional Retouching.
This first Digital Imaging Class will be about 2.5 hours long, and includes everything you need to understand the basics of working with images before putting them under the digital blade. This presentation will be heavy on the mechanical prepress aspect of what images are, and best practices of handling them.
This will be a beginners guide to everything you need to know BEFORE you start to work with Photoshop. This will also stand as a semi-professional refresher course, to ensure you have a solid foundation for everything about preparing files for printing. Way too many tutorials start with Photoshop, and that is just simply the wrong approach.
You may know that you want a 300 DPI Image, but WHY? No…wait… was that PPI? I know that company said they wanted 300 dpi, but another said 240 dpi. But, this silly camera says 72 DPI?!? Ugh… what's the difference? Well. don't worry about it, I'll explain it all for you.
You will be prepared to understand how to get files from the camera (JPG, RAW), through production (Photoshop and inDesign), and out to print (inkjet, digital printing, or printing press). This course is not Photoshop specific. Rather, It will give you enough information on how to best make educated decisions. One of the worst things to happen, is to spend hours working on image retouching, only to find out it will not print as intended. That is a major downer, to think that you need to start over again, after you already put all that work into it.
And the cost for 2 hours of my time? $1.00. Seriously.
Why in the world would I do that?!? Because I know the value of $1.00.
$1.00 Gets your attention. (I have it, don't I?)
$1.00 Gives me an audience, testimonials, and allows me a chance to connect with you, one on one.
I win, you win. Nothing more to it than that. Only the first 100 will be able to join me, so be sure to visit the webpage and sign up. This Digital Imaging Class is currently scheduled for Saturday, November 12th, 2011, at 4pm EST.
I am also going to be starting a Beginner's Basic Photoshop Training Class. After reviewing the statistics for videos watched, I have decided that it would be best if I started with Basic Photoshop, for 4 weeks. Then, in December, I will start an intermediate class. As of right now, I do not think I will be doing an Advanced class. It's not that I can't teach it, but there does not seem to be enough interest in the content. If I had to guess, Advanced users are out here doing their thing, and not directly interested in learning more. I know I wasn’t. At least, that was the case until I actually started learning all this stuff again. That’s when i realized I didn’t know everything. I learned by creating these videos. Honestly, that is one of my driving reasons for creating this website. It keeps me learning.
On November 1st, I am going to be starting with my basic class. It is going to be offered at ONE price point. The first will be at $300, for the four week class. This is an absolute steal for the content that will be provided. However, I follow someone in a completely unrelated field, and he holds his A-Z course at a price point of $800. I think that is crazy. Mainly because I could not afford it if I wanted to. At $300, I would seriously consider it. So, that is going to be the first price; $300 for a 4 week course that runs through November.
The second price point will be $499 for the same course. The difference is going to be the inclusion of your very own copy of Adobe Photoshop CS5.5. So, yes, by taking this course, you will receive your very own, fully licensed copy of the software at the $199 Student Discount. I hope that grabs your attention. You can have a fully legal copy of Abobe Photoshop, and the basic training, at the super low price (gawd, I hate saying it that way) of only $499.
Please Note: I was told I could offer this, then I was told I could not. It appears that you really need to be part of a Department of Education accredited University or school to actually quality for this. Sorry, I tried.
In December, I will start teaching an Intermediate Level class. This will pick up where the basic class ends, and then begins taking your training to the next level. This is where many of the website videos are being watched. The middle level, where people are not basic, but not advanced. This is the hungry group. They want to learn . Everything they can, apparently. this will run through the month of December. (Ick, I hate December. It's too cold.)
So now, let address the obvious. I have many videos on the website. What can you expect that is not covered in the videos already online?
Well, several things, really. The first obvious one, is that you are gaining a mentor. These would not be general videos, but targeted to your specific needs. Ask questions, get answers. You can bring pictures to class, and get professional and personal help on things that are important to you. Next, I will be covering topics not in the videos.
The videos on the website are randomly created. There is no beginning, middle and end. There is no goal. The purpose of this class is to give you that goal. The purpose is to give you someone to be accountable to, whether it will be me or other members of the group. If you find yourself kind of watching videos or not even watching videos at all, but you want to, you just haven’t found the time or made the time or whatever, then this is the type of situation you need to be in that is going to give you the accountability to keep going. Show up for the class every week, do the assignments, because of the end of the month, you are going to be so much better at photo retouching. And if you follow through to the intermediate class, then you are just going to be awesome.
But like I keep saying in this podcast, the only way you are going to do it, it’s to do it.
Yes, it costs several hundred dollars. I get that. And I totally understand that not everyone has the money. That is why I kept the price point lower. Also, because this is the first class that I am doing. If I do this again, I guarantee that I am going to be raising the price. The only way that I can keep it low, is because I know you go to the website, I know you subscribe at iTunes, you watch on YouTube, whatever the story is, whatever your story is, I know you want to learn this stuff and the only way you are going to learn is to watch the videos. And if you have not been watching the videos, then maybe you need to be in a class situation. Where you can ask the questions, you can have that one on one direct contact. Where you can provide your own images, and you can get back answers about those images.
If you are interested, please go to the Basic Photoshop Training Class page and sign up, I’m sure that you will be glad that you did.
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.