How to get hired as a creative Photoshop junkie?
June 23, 2011 8:34 PM   Subscribe

How to get hired as a Photoshop junkie?

I have a friend who can shred on Photoshop like Hendrix shreds on a 5-string. The problem -- he doesn't have a clue who hires for this type of wizardry and where to begin on his journey to this magical kingdom.

Any ideas/suggestions? He is extremely adept in photoshop, and has a mind-blowingly creative mind. He's levelheaded enough though to realize that that alone isn't enough to have Beyonce knocking at his door asking for some creative photo touchups.

Any and all banter/ideas/suggestions are most welcome. He doesn't really know who hires for these types of jobs, beyond the fashion magazines who want (seemingly) purely touchup work. He enjoys touchup work, but also likes to do artistic-type photos such as found here. He suspects that this artistic type of work is less in demand and harder to find. Nevertheless, he loves and thrives in both veins.

Beyond who actively hires for these types of jobs (beyond the occasional Craigslister), what are the first foundational steps to plugging into this career? Resume-spam? Internships? Mass portfolio advertisement?

May the force be with you all

posted by coldblackice to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Your friend needs to put together a proper portfolio. Flickr is nice, but something more professional that not only shows his amazing work but details his technical skills and his bio like a resume.

Photo editing and retouching jobs are what he should look into, but also graphic design work. While photo-editing isn't exactly graphic design, it's often a handy skill, and sometimes businesses post job listings for graphic designers when what they actually want is a photo editor.

And, of course, he should keep plugging his portfolio wherever he can! You never know when someone important might see it and want to make something of it.
posted by katillathehun at 8:41 PM on June 23, 2011

My experience has been that unless you also know Adobe Illustrator and a whole list of other graphic software, the jobs are going to be few and far between.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:10 PM on June 23, 2011

What, exactly, do you mean when you say he shreds on Photoshop? That's a very open-ended description. I've run into guys who claimed to be Pshop masters, but really were just the "pile-on-seventy-five-layers-of-bling-effects" guys. It wows civilians, but isn't impressive to the people who know what they're looking at and might hire.

More impressive are the subtle retouchers, who really understand how to tweak the details to where you aren't aware of the manipulation. His photography looks really nice, though, so hopefully he's in the latter group.

If he's interested in working as a retoucher/photo manipulation, he should work-up, at the very least, some contact pieces showing before/after comparisons of his retouching work. I'd start by sending them to creative and art directors at ad agencies. He might also send stuff to the larger commercial presses and pre-press houses. They would be more apt to need retouchers than a small press ever would.

It's not an easy field to crack, though. A TON of photo editing is being done in "sweatshops" overseas.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:43 AM on June 24, 2011

The other big part of the equation is understanding the functions of Photoshop that relate to printing. Anybody can "shred" at Photoshop but if they can't deal with dot gain, bleed, trapping, color profiles, calibration, OPI, clipping etc., they're not going to be that useful to people in the print industry. As someone above mentioned, Photoshop goes hand in hand with Illy, so they'd need to know the vector side of the equation too.

It'd be like trying to get a job as a mechanic based on the fact that you taught yourself how to change your own oil.
posted by PSB at 5:29 AM on June 24, 2011

Best answer: IANAPhotoshop Shredder...but my husband is. He's a studio/project manager-type guy now at an ad agency, after working his way around the city in various ranks for years and years.

As Thorzdad and PSB said, it's more than making great-looking images. If he's working in a studio, the files have to be built so that other people can use them too. Can he do that? He also doesn't have to be creative - most of the time, he'd have to do only what he's told to do. And here in Toronto, freelance re-touchers make great money, and even freelance graphic artists with good skills and good reputations can pull in a decent amount - but does he want to do the boring work, or only use his madd photoshop skillz? And, he's a photographer too? Because at agencies, the photographers are almost never the retouchers/graphic artists/Mac monkeys who work with the images. Ad agencies often need pictures of simple things, like deflated balloons or oranges - conceptualizing client's ideas, maybe, at best - would he be okay with that, or does he only want to do what he wants to do? There are too many unknowns here, and without seeing his CV, not much else can be offered in the way of advice.

What I'd suggest (and my husband too, based on a quick phone consult), based only on what you've posted, is that maybe he's looking for work as an illustrator. He should get his portfolio together and talk to a company, something like Three in a Box. Editorial or book publishing work may be more in line with what he's hoping to do. At least he can look through the artists' bios there, see what they've done and how they got there, and maybe see if someone has advice or can mentor a bit?
posted by peagood at 7:11 AM on June 24, 2011

Here's an ad in Los Angeles--maybe they'd be willing to work with someone virtually?
posted by Ideefixe at 1:38 PM on June 24, 2011

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