Most reading this have always had something like Photoshop to help them with their photographic retouching. But I came across this old job description for “photographic process workers” and thought I would post it. It gives both a historical look at the job and helps to put in context what we do today.

How would you like this to be your daily routine?

* Dry prints or negatives, using sponges and/or squeegees, mechanical air dryers, or drying cabinets.
* Examine developed prints for defects such as broken lines, spots, and blurs.
* Mix ink or paint solutions, according to color specifications, color charts, and desired consistencies.
* Place sensitized paper in frames of projection printers, photostats, or other reproduction machines.
* Evaluate film and negatives to determine characteristics such as sensitivity to light, density, and exposure time required for printing.
* Examine drawings, negatives, or photographic prints to determine coloring, shading, accenting, and other changes required for retouching or restoration.
* Immerse film, negatives, paper, or prints in developing solutions, fixing solutions, and water in order to complete photographic development processes.
* Measure material to be copied, and compute percentages of enlargement or reproduction necessary, using rules, charts, or percentage scales.
* Mix developing and fixing solutions according to established formulas.
* Mount original photographs, negatives, or other printed material in holders or vacuum frames beneath lights.
* Place identification on film as necessary.
* Produce color or black-and-white photographs, negatives, and slides, applying standard photographic reproduction techniques and procedures.
* Read work orders to determine required processes, techniques, materials, and equipment.
* Reprint originals to enlarge them, or in sections to be pieced together.
* Select lens assemblies according to sizes and types of negatives or photographs to be printed.
* Apply paint to retouch or enhance negatives or photographs, using airbrushes, pens, artists’ brushes, cotton swabs, or gloved fingers.
* Color photographs to produce natural, lifelike appearances, using oil colors.
* Cut negatives and put them in order.
* Set automatic timers, lens openings, and printer carriages to specified focus and exposure times, and start exposure in order to duplicate originals, photographs, or negatives.
* Shade negatives or photographs with pencils to smooth facial contours, soften highlights, and conceal blemishes, stray hairs, or wrinkles.
* Clean and organize darkrooms, and maintain darkroom equipment.
* Correct color work prints to adjust for outdoor filming.
* Create work prints according to customer specifications and lab protocols.
* Cut out masking templates, using shears, and position templates on pictures to mask selected areas.
* Expose film strips to progressively timed lights to compare effects of various exposure times.
* Ink borders or lettering on illustrations, using pens, brushes, or drafting instruments.
* Paint negatives with retouching mediums to ensure that retouching pencils will mark surfaces of negatives.
* Record test data from film that has been examined, and route film to film developers and film printers for further processing.
* Rub erasers or cloths over photographs to reduce gloss, remove debris, or prepare specified areas of illustrations for highlighting.
* Thread film strips through densitometers, and expose film to light to determine density of film and necessary color corrections.
* Thread film strips through sensitometers, expose film to light, and read gauges to assess light sensitivity.
* Trim edges of prints to enhance appearance, using scissors or paper cutters.
* Wipe excess color from portraits in order to produce specified shades, using cotton swabs.
* Examine quality of film fades and dissolves, and evaluate potential color corrections, using color analyzers.
* Produce timed prints with separate densities and color settings for each scene of a production.

Sometimes I long for the old days – looking at this list – not so much.


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