Check out some of our recent work with my friend and colleague, Lara Jade, for The Observer Magazine (Fashion Week special (2012)). For all our friends across the pond in the UK, you may have seen this already.
Everything about the styling, photography, and modeling had great chemistry. Even the small details like the hair styling, with loosely tied up hair, matched the feel of the whole shoot.
This morning I woke up to this fantastic surprise, all thanks to the talented, Zubair Parkar (http://cine4D.tumblr.com).
This could not have come at a better time. The logo is a representation of a new level that I’ve reached in these past few months. I’ve taken Solstice to another dimension, not by just the quality of work, but also the opportunities I have found. Being agency represented is one of those new opportunities.
I’m excited to see where I will take my brand going forward over the next few months and the coming years, perhaps to even greater dimensions.
So thank you for this, Zubair, this is incredible!
I recently saw your portfolio and think your work is fantastic. I wanted to know if you have any availability coming up. If so, I have a set of 8 files that I will need a quote for and would like to potentially work with you.
They are going to be published in (entermagazinenamehere). I would like the files in 1 week if possible, as the deadline for submission is is about a week and a half out. I can either provide you a link to download the images, or if you have server space or a dropbox, I can upload them to you. Based on your hourly rate, I’d like to know what the quote would be. Also, I will be providing you with a few items to make it easier for you. These items include:
1) A list of details on what we would like done for each shot aside from skin work. I can provide these notes written, or marked up on a separate copy of the images.
2) A few references based on the color treatment I would like for the overall files.
3) A couple of before/after images of my own work for you to see in regards to the level of detail I like. That way there is no confusion.
Finally, I prefer my files returned to me in 8 bit, AdobeRGB(1998), flattened PSD please.
I look forward to your reply and I hope to continue working with you in the future should this work out well for us.
As you saw by the example, communication is imperative. I would immediately reach through the screen, buy him a drink, and explore the possibilities of getting him knighted, while high fiveing him and his future unborn son. This is a dream response, and my clients that I have today, understand these things.
You think this sounds elaborate, I’m guessing, but believe it or not this was an actual initial e-mail from a client of mine today! (sans the name, and silly details).
In general, most of the professionals I work with deliver on getting me the right information, and it really makes things much easier, not to mention a much lower rate! We spend half as much time working with someone who knows what they are talking about and knows what they want.
I would say that this is an epitome of a perfect first inquiry. However, even asking for a rate and showcasing the files you need as well as specific details on the job will be more than good enough.
And once the first job is done, we get a sense of what the photographer wants. And often, even details aren’t needed as we understand the photographer’s demands unless it’s something very specific. So it becomes fast, efficient, and very cheap for something high in quality. That trickle down effect through the rest of the client relationship because of one initial e-mail is powerful.
These days, the amount of competent professional retouchers vs the amount of working photographers who are looking for retouchers are not balanced. There are not enough of us. What that means is that we are usually in high demand. If there is a retoucher you want to work with, chances are there at least 100 other photographers who are feeling the same way and act on it. So, the initial approach is very important.
Limitation of Retouching
If you’re respectful to us, we will love you. If I feel like I am about to be undervalued based on lack of appreciation you have for retouching, then that’s a different story.
One thing to keep in mind with retouching, is that even though most retouchers are fantastic, there is a limitation to retouching, for God’s sakes (talk about putting it lightly).
Before contacting a retoucher, I implore you to understand how far you can go with retouching. We’re here primarily to work with you to perfect your images, not rescue them from the mouth of Satan.
Yo, how’s it going? I have these 5 shots I am attaching. Also, the last shot is a Dior shot that we referenced for the shoot. Can you make my shots look like there’s? As you can see, mine came out similar, it just needs a bit of retouching magic to really set it off! Like, mostly color work and some dodge and burn. I have a budget of $10 a file, I don’t think it takes that long so I need them all tomorrow if possible. THX.
Usually, when the entire team is off including the hair, makeup, lighting, clothing, and photography, don’t put it all on the retoucher to fix, there is a limit to retouching, and you have to understand that even we believe that it’s imperative to get it right in the camera as close as you can so we can build off a beautiful image and make it truly fantastic. Digital doesn’t give you an excuse to suck at photography. That is why so many film photographers who have transitioned into digital produce such fantastic imagery even without retouching.
And of course, we do understand fixing issues with makeup, hair, and such, that’s our job. But do not expect us to be there in replacement of an entire team! The cost you try and save up front, will then be paid in post production without a similar result. (Read that article here: Link)
Having great communication goes a long way, and also understanding the limitations of what digital can do. When I work with someone who gets it, I give them a steep discount because it’s a blessing working with great photographers who know what they want, and know what can be expected.
Other Bad Scenarios
I could end this here, but for the sake of humor, I asked a few of my colleagues to send some scenarios in which they felt occurred from time to time that killed their relationship, and here is what they said. I left them as anonymous, as requested.
Scenario: I will be asked a set of questions, in general. I will then write up a response in detail. As a follow up down the line, I get asked the same questions again because there was no time taken to read the entire response showing a lack of concern or attention. So like a BF who doesn’t ever listen to me, I ended it.
Scenario: Getting one line inquiries, like, “Hey, wut your rate??” Clearly, it’s not going to work out. Next.
Scenario: I ask a set of questions for clarification on my end, and in response I get something that doesn’t only ignore the question, but goes on another tangent all together, multiple times over and over again. Take some Adderall, will you, Ms. A.D.D.?
Scenario: Expressing a certain level of expectation of what is possible and what is isn’t (very clearly), only to have them come back later and demand that something has to be done when it was clearly defined that it cannot be done.
Scenario: I clearly tell them what my rate is, only to be asked if the job can be done 50% less than quoted. How about no? Oh, right, and I will let everyone know as well of how cheap you are. Don’t waste my time.
Scenario: I love it when I quote on a job and everything sounds fine. Then after everything is completed (or so I think!) they start throwing things in there that wasn’t agreed upon initially, like color work, and manipulation. Lol! Always be sure and add a clause for modifications in your quote!
Scenario: This is a kicker, sometimes they ask me for the most ridiculous things. “Please remove the wall.” And I want to reply with, and replace it with what? Do you know how Photoshop works? It would be nice to ask for things that actually make sense. Then I realized half my time was spent explaining that it wasn’t possible. And their reply, “You must not be a good retoucher then!”
We really take notice of great communication and appreciation, and although most of this was primarily out of humor, I hope the takeaway is a reflection on mostly what not to do when contacting a retoucher for the first time, and down the line in a client relationship in general. A healthy client relationship is very important.
Sometimes these things occur on accident, so this can serve as what you can do to better your chances on maintaining great ties, and possibly fantastic rates!
If you’re difficult, chances are you’ll be searching for a while. If you’re great at communicating, we love you.
Something amazing has just happened. We reached our 100th follower!
When I first started posting on my blog, it was primarily to share my own work. But soon enough, I began to realize that there is a wealth of information, imagery, and fantastic material within our industry, and those industries that are in tangent to ours in the entire art universe, that I had to share it with everyone. Not only that, but also by creating my own unique content inspired by the questions I receive from everyone.
Solstice Blog is in it’s infancy, but starting to evolve rapidly. Just within the past 2 weeks, it jumped from a 17 followers to 100! This is not including the amount that have subscribed by an RSS feed. I have received fantastic feedback, and participating from everyone.
I hear what you guys are saying, and I will be sure to make this an amazing site to follow for everything relating to not just retouching, but photoshop as a whole, and extend outward into photography, the fashion industry, art, and all things relating to it.
I look forward to hearing from you, and if you have any comments at all on what you would like to see going forward, please write to me! I do take notice. I am very reachable:
This weekend has been incredible, to say the least. As many of you know, Quavondo and I had our first joint workshop this weekend in Portland. If you’re just reading out about it, here was the program: (link).
A highly extensive two day workshop featuring an intensive array of lighting scenarios and then transitioning to in depth post production.
I have been doing retouching seminars and one on one teaching for over a year now (http://solsticeretouch.tumblr.com/teaching) . It has been fantastic and so was the reception as you can see from the testimonials in the link. So naturally, I decided to go bigger, I wanted to make something epic, something no one is doing. I took a mental inventory of all the things every major seminar across the nation is doing and looked at what they weren’t. I would ask their attendees about the pros and cons and asked them what they really wanted and decided to make a program with what the public really wants and cannot get as the emphasis of the workshop. I decided to go in partnership with a photographer to do an entire all-encompassing workshop, from beginning to end, without holding anything back.
Without any hesitation, good friend and established photographer, Quavondo came to mind right away. If you don’t know who he is by now, check out his work at http://www.quavondo.com/ . His resume and list of credentials is spectacular, with work ranging from celebrities to huge ad campaigns. What makes Quavondo special is not just his ability to be multifaceted in producing both conceptual and commercial work independently, but also his unique talent to teach.
When I saw this video, I knew right away that he not just a talented person, but also had the ability to demonstrate, teach, and really be clear about what he is doing. He also is not shy and can clearly communicate what he wants to showcase while keeping it fun and fascinating. He is a leader. Working with him, I also knew how great he was at making things happen in the face of adversity and his ability to market himself as well. That is something 90% of people do not have, the entire package.
With that, I knew right away that I had to present the idea to him about the 2 day workshop. He agreed and immediately we began planning over the next 2 months. Finally the weekend arrived and I went there this past Friday (August 19th) to meet him and prep for the two days ahead. We got along great and I knew it was going to turn out fantastic. We booked solid as word got around that we joined forces for a seminar.
I found out Quavondo had put a solid team together, with some of the hardest working people I have ever met in the industry, from video, to marketing, to the makeup artist and models present. Everyone put in a tremendous time. The production value is amazing. The talented Darren Utt shot a wide array of footage from day one all the way to the moment I left, with such immaculate detail and artistic interpretation. He expressed the many elements of the promo video/behind the scenes video to me and I was blown away by the dedication in his directing. It far exceeds any behind the scenes video I have seen thus far and cannot wait to show everyone when it’s done. It is informative, entertaining, and has a clear and distinct story from start to end.
The First Day
The first day commenced bright and early in the morning. All the attendees came in and we introduced ourselves and got to know each other. There were high expectations of us, but we decided to go deliver even more. We initially felt that providing 3 unique lighting setups along with demonstration and personal interaction would be sufficient as it could be used in any type of shoot. We went above and beyond and provided 7 fully customized lighting setups. I have never seen a workshop do this. We covered everything from a full fashion, beauty, and commercial shoot. We changed everything entirely. Quavondo has a fantastic ability to see light in his head and setup on the fly. Working with ad agencies and art directors that want things done fast allowed him to get setups that came to his head and moments and make it happen. After each setup, he explained what he did, what the intention was, and why it works. Once all questions were answered, we would give everyone a good 5 minutes to work with each model in that setup and adjust anything they wanted or ask questions. Being able to interact on a personal level was so rewarding. At the end of the day at 5 p.m., it felt more like a group of friends rather than a student and teacher relationship. If photographers could put together a party, this is what it would have felt like. Everything just worked, it felt organic and so casual yet educational. We knew this was going to be big.
Day One Group
After day one had finished, and everything was packed, we went home and refreshed. We knew we couldn’t just go to bed even though it was exhausting going through 7 full setups, both setup and breakdown. We stayed up to the late morning hours working on the next day and editing shots from that day, getting as much as we could do. It was the first time retouching Quavondo’s shots while I was there in the room with him. It was great being able to go through the same dynamic I would online, in person. I would finish retouching everything and I would send it to him to finish his flawless finishing touches which is what produces our final piece of work.
It was my turn, day two started bright and early with most everyone arriving before 9 a.m. with anticipation. With everything setup, we started in the conference room. It felt so natural to be there, after the first day of getting to know everyone. I could not have a better set of people to show up. Everyone was so unique and incredibly talented. They felt so intrigued to learn, and so mentally invested about what was to transpire. We had people who just started using adjustment layers and layer masks to people who have been using Photoshop for years. The common bond was the fascination of learning and sharing. The program is designed with everyone in mind while still delivering brand new ground breaking information without being complex in delivery. This allows for everyone to walk away with completely new information that is both easy to understand and applicable right away.
I could see everyone’s faces, fixed on the projection. I would gaze now and then across the room after revealing a few more techniques, judging on how the day was going based on their expressions. You could see and feel the excitement in the room as things got interesting. As new techniques they’d never seen anywhere come up on the projection, I could see the excitement in their eyes illuminated only by the light coming from the projector. I can’t tell you more than that, and neither will anyone else, but what was delivered in that room won’t be seen anywhere else, and the feedback really shows it well (below). As the day progressed, it felt more like a group forum of discussion and dissection of information, we all contributed as a group and everyone felt more informed, including myself.
Day Two Group
As the day ended, it felt like I made a whole new set of friends and truly had one of the best experiences of the year. I thank everyone for making it possible and so glad it happened.
With the day finally over, it wasn’t over for us, we went home and retouched till 5 in the morning getting sample images done and writing about it from the day to show everyone who was interested.
The next day, we wrapped up with the final video segments and I headed back home. I know this is just the beginning, as we’re already getting tremendous request to take it on the road from coast to coast. Here’s the the start of a project that we know the world will be talking about.
To read more about the workshop and to see the samples from our workshop, feel free to visit Quavondo’s blog entries here:
Q, you put on the best workshops with the most amazing people! I was stunned when I saw that tool that Pratik was using. Like I said, it puts all of us on a level that will take the industry a year or two to catch up. It is a great marketing advantage to have this in my arsenal of tools. Like I said, this workshop would easily be worth $1500.00. The ROI is simply there for the taking.
- Hal Harrison
This weekends workshop was incredible.
From the instructors to the models to the methods -wow. My head is still buzzing. I’m really excited to continue to use the content that I learned from this workshop. Q and Pratik are amazing. The cost off class was nothing compared to the information they shared with us. Saving time- check. New and better methods of retouching- check. Killer course in lighting- check. Models, comrades, contacts.. It was all there.
A big thanks Q and Pratik and also to everybody I met in class, it was really cool. See ya on the flipside,
- Matte Hanna
Q and Pratik were just awesome. I used to think I was a decent retoucher but Pratik’s techniques set that straight! I’m really glad I was able to attend both days. The energy, inspiration, and amount of information was great. Well worth the price of admission
- Pete Springer
I can’t say enough about the workshop. I’ve been editing for almost 5 years and shooting for 2 and I was never interested in going to a workshop until I came across your work. I was under the impression that I would know most of the stuff already but I can’t begin to explain how much I’ve actually picked up. Lighting setups were simple and very nice to see that you can get fantastic shots from one light or 6. I’ve spent a TON of money on equipment/programs/lights and the list goes on but this was by far the single best thing I’ve spent my money on. I hit a plateau with my work recently and this was just the thing to push me over that hill and on to something I’d never thought I’d be able to produce.
For those interested, it’s worth the cost of the class and then some. Right after the first day of shooting I went home and did my usual workflow and I was stoked. Then I took Pratik’s class and went home and re edited the same shot and wow. It’s night and day. I learned more in these two days than I’ve learned in countless hours of shooting/editing. Thanks again guys!
Q and Pratik, thanks for the amazing workshop!
I learned so much, the lighting class was great and refreshing to see the way you do it Q. The lighting set ups were easier then I thought, and showed me that I have been over thinking it for too long. It help take away the magic, and showed me how Q does it. Well worth the time and cost! Pratik, that retouching class was mind blowing! I learned a similar work flow after hundreds of hours of digging through forums. Which you told me was the old version and the new version is faster and a ton better, which it was. Those new secret techniques made my work flow way more enjoyable and a few hours faster! Now I can actually spend the time and do it the good way instead of cheaping out for quick plug-in fixes that are not anywhere close to what you taught.
Q, and Pratik thanks for the amazing work shop worth much, much more then it cost.
I want to thank Q and Pratik for putting on such a good retouching workshop (I didn’t attend the photography workshop). It was so worthwhile. Pratik’s secret techniques will cut down my retouching time so much without sacrificing any quality. It’s hard to put a price on that. I thought his method of teaching was well thought out and enjoyable and he took so much time to patiently answer all questions. You guys rock!
- Sandi Gagne
I wasn’t going to go to the work shop this last weekend due to the fact that I didn’t really have the money for it. I had then put it out of my mind and went about my work. Days before the workshop started to got a message from Q asking me if I was going to sign up or not. I let him know I wasn’t really thinking about it nor had it off work. However, he warned me that I should come and it would be worth my time and money…he was right. I got myself there for both days and my brain is still mulling over what we learned and how I can apply it to my work! Though I am a little more broke…I know what I learned will improve my work and skill 100 times over…and its just money…nothing beats knowledge!