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I've helped a few friend photographers by editing their photos when they're overloaded with work. They cull and edit the photos that go on the blog and I match their style and edit the rest. I've only done it with people I know personally. Is this a common thing among professionals? How would I go about getting more work like this? Sorry if this isn't the right place to ask this question!

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Many full-time professional photographers employ assistants of various kinds.

An assistant could be:

  • handling and setting up lighting gear before or during the photoshoot
  • holding light disc or other reflector
  • metering exposure
  • loading film into film camera or film back
  • retouching, color correcting or post-processing photos
  • managing digital files or film negatives storage
  • managing metadata
  • managing finances
  • managing licensing of photos and legal issues
  • lugging the photographer's gear

These are just a few examples as assistant duties could encompass any aspect of photo production.

A photographer could employ lots of assistants or none at all, it all depends on his/her style of work and, usually, available financial resources.

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It's pretty common to outsource editing, especially in fashion photography where the high-end edits are a full-time job, not only because of the skills, but mostly because of the time it takes to do the skin job and the special effects (up to 6 hours/picture). So it couldn't possibly be done by the same person, they have to make photographers and retouchers work in parallel.

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This is both very common and difficult to break into.

The practice of a pro photographer concentrating on the important things - shooting pictures and building client relationships - and outsourcing the rest is as old as professional photography. Ages before Lightroom arrived there were lab assistants doing darkroom stuff and retouchers working with scalpels and tiny brushes.

It is difficult to break into because there is a high level of trust involved. A retoucher can improve a picture greatly, and ruin it completely. He gets to see all the stuff, and learns a lot - which is good for you, but a possible problem for the pro if he is afraid of competition.

To get more work like this you need to hang around pro photographers and have something to show your work. A portfolio, or a photo blog to build your "street cred".

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