The concept of outsourcing photo editing services might seem foreign to you and to most photographers, but it also might be the best decision you ever make.
Being a photographer means you should do your own photo editing, right?
Well, maybe. Sometimes. Not always.
“But won’t I lose control of the process, you might ask?”
“Isn’t the way I edit my photographs part of what attracted the client in the first place?”
Take the time to consider your options and research, research, research. Don’t say no before you even begin reading – you have nothing to lose by keeping an open mind.
You might just get your life back!
What do we mean by getting your life back?
Well, think about it for a moment.
The time you could have wasted in front of a computer making all those tweaks and changes to a single photo could have been spent outside shooting more fabulous photos.
Why kill time in front of a screen making those minor corrections when you can have someone else do it for you?
What can help you make this all-important decision? Look at our pros and cons below.
Related: Do Photographers Edit Their Photos?
What You Should Think About First
Acknowledge That You Can’t Do and Be Everything in Your Business
Do other businesses have only one person that fulfills every role?
That is because we all have strengths and weaknesses. Think about what are yours. Those are what you need to focus on.
Are you a photographer and/or an editor?
While you can do both, you might not be able to be both. If you hire someone to do make-up and hair for a photoshoot, or for the set design – your end result is a team effort. You need to understand why the thought of using an outsourcing photo editing makes you feel that it is different from hiring anyone else.
In the end, your business is a team effort, even if you are the only one actually taking the shots. Even artists who have written a song don’t need to be able to play every instrument to record it – yet they still get the credit.
Evaluate Your Time
Are you making the best use of your time? Stuck behind a computer, when you should be out there booking clients? Are most of your daily hours spent editing? You have to set a value for your time. Unfortunately, the saying “time is money” is true when you run your own business. The question to ask is always, “Is this worth the time I am spending on it?” If not, you are wasting a precious resource that you cannot get back – time. We think that photo editing services for photographers can be a solution to this time problem, but only if done right.
Do You Enjoy Editing?
You drag yourself through the hours spent editing, dreaming of the great shots you could be taking. Be honest and go back to your strengths and weaknesses.
Then look at all these other points, before deciding what will work best for you and your business. Just because you acknowledge you do not actually like editing work, does not make you a lesser photographer. Because that is what you are – a photographer, not an editor.
We know this can be a touchy subject, so we are just going to go ahead and say it.
Not every photographer has the skill required to edit their images.
Regardless of what you’ve seen online and DIY videos you’ve watched on YouTube, achieving the best photo editing services is an art that only a few can master and offer to others. If you aren’t in this category you risk damaging images. That’s not to say we think you would go ahead and try to refine your original photo without making a backup, but it can happen.
Actually, it has happened to some of the best of us so don’t be offended by the suggestion. Stuff happens, and it may happen to you if it hasn’t already.
By outsourcing to a portrait retouching service, you get to focus on the part of photography you enjoy the most – taking those photos.
Know Your Shooting and Editing Style
If you are at a point where you have consistency in your photographs (not perfection, of course), you and an outside editor will have an easier time editing.
Are you comfortable with your use of the equipment and your style of taking photographs?
Trying to get a uniform product (when it comes to style) from photographs that have no consistency will not be easy for anyone to achieve, let alone someone who does not know you or your style yet. If your photographs are already great, editing only enhances what they already are.
Do You Understand Your Workflow and What You Want?
Can you communicate this to an outside editor?
Do you have a consistent workflow from taking the photograph to the finished edited product?
Think of how you will explain your processes and outcomes when editing to someone else. It must make sense otherwise no-one, but you will be any the wiser. Take into account that you are handing over an integral part of your business to someone else, so the clearer you can be, the better.
The cost of outsourcing one’s editing varies and is dependent on factors like time taken per photo and the skill required to edit the photo.
Prices can vary in range, whereas if you did the editing yourself it only costs you time.
However, this is the time that could be used to further the interests of your business in other areas and increase profits, so you might want to evaluate how much potential money you are losing out on versus how much you are saving by doing the editing yourself.
In the long run, it is cheaper. Here is why.
Seriously, you could do it but unless your passion is in the editing and not the snapping of photos, why bother with the expense?
Besides, that’s one more reason why it’s better to just use a professional photo editing services to touch up those shots. They are in the business of doing just that and as a result, they will spend the bags of dough on top of the line software, so you get the benefit of the best available without the initial investment.
In other words, you pay them for fixing your photos on gear you didn’t have to buy yourself. That spells savings no matter how you look at it.
Finding the Perfect Match
Just like finding your life partner takes time and effort, so can finding the correct fit for your editing needs. There might be some trial-and-error involved which can take time and might be costly.
That is why research and referrals from other photographers are essential. Just remember that what works for one might not work for you.
This is where understanding your style and the required outcome come into play again. If you don’t know what you want, how can anyone or any company be the right fit?
Loss of Creative Control
When handing over the responsibility of editing to another person or company, you might feel that your photographs could lose your specific style or appeal and end up with a generic look.
The loss of control over your photographs is not total, however, because you as the client will always have the last say over your photo and will be able to assess the editing and ask for changes.
You might also feel that clients are paying YOU for the end product and expect YOU to be the one to do it all from start to finish.
If you think about it – if you have a clear idea of what creative decisions you want to make with regards to photographs being edited, it will actually take you less time to tell someone else what you want to achieve, than do it yourself.
Not Learning from Making Mistakes/New Editing Potential
When editing your own images, you may find yourself noticing things that could have been done while shooting the photo that would have made it better.
Obviously, when outsourcing, you lose the chance to have a critical look at your own photography and make improvements.
Worried About Editor Expertise
Certain photos may also require a particular editing process or style – one that is going to be too difficult for an outside editor to manage and get good results.
Here there is a potential trade-off in the quality and uniqueness of your photographs and you would have to think carefully about using an outside editor. Looking at different outsourcing company’s websites and work is a good indication if they will be able to preserve the integrity of your work.
Finding photographs that resonate with your unique style and seeing who edited them, can also be a place to start.
Goals That Are Not Aligned
Even if you find a company or editor you feel comfortable with, do they understand your expectations and time-frame to the same degree you do?
Any discrepancies in this regard can lead to misunderstandings, and maybe even non-completion of work. If they are a busy firm, will they give your work the attention it deserves?
These are considerations when choosing to outsource your editing.
Lack of Consistency
If you are using a company that has a few editors, you might end up having a different person edit your photographs each time. This means that your photographs come back inconsistent in their editing.
This is of course not acceptable.
You would have to make sure you are assigned a specific editor or use a one-on-one editor that will always edit your work. Once you have a relationship with a company or editor, this should no longer be a problem.
Still Maybe Having to Re-Touch Afterward
The above point may lead to this one. You have now spent money outsourcing editing for a job and find you have to spend more time re-editing what they did not get exactly right. Money has been spent and now the time is being wasted.
Exposure to Confidential Data
If your photographs contain confidential information such as details of a design or a new product, you might worry that this could be released to the public.
Even if it is accidental, it could still cause serious problems for you.
Make sure that there is no fine print in your contract with an outsourced editor, where you might find yourself having to pay for hidden costs. Ensure you go through the contract (and a lawyer, if necessary), depending on what type of photography you are doing.
Minimizing the Risks
- Intensive research is necessary. Look for companies or editors with proven track records. Ask for referrals. Look at their body of work.
- Make sure you have a written contract with clear and detailed information, such as time-frame and expectations.
- Make sure you are in constant communication with the company or editor so that issues can be tackled straight away and not left till it is too late.
More Time for Your Personal Life
As a photographer, your time could be limited depending on your schedule, and this is one of the main reasons photographers outsource their post-processing.
If your editing workload is cutting into your personal life, leaving you less time for sleep or family, outsourcing can be a lifesaver – you don’t want your child to cry because he thinks there is a stranger in the house!
It’s time-consuming. In fact, it is so time-consuming that you may age quicker than some of the software you’ll end up having to replace. There is nothing wrong with being such a perfectionist that you need to have your say and input into every single step of the photo process.
However, there are times when you really need to let someone else take the reins and deal with the boring stuff. It gives you a lot more free time to schedule more photoshoots.
After all, isn’t that why you got into this crazy game in the first place?
You wanted to take photos. Nobody said at the time that photo editing was also going to take up chunks of your days.
More Time for the Other Important Aspects of Your Business
Time spent editing cancels out doing anything else for your business. It is not something that you do while multi-tasking.
Outsourcing opens up time to work on your business and increase your “turnaround time”, potentially making your clients more satisfied by delivering the product to them more efficiently.
This can create a positive spin, improving your reputation and bringing in more clients. If you think of how quickly a wedding couple wants their wedding photographs – outsourcing the editing can literally ensure you will always be remembered for your fast service and great quality!
This might also give you the time to look at expanding your business and taking on an associate photographer. If this is where you see your business going, then outsourcing can only benefit it in the short and long run.
Time to Be Creative
Reading blogs, attending events and interacting with other photographers is essential to keep the spark of creativity going into your business.
Get back to grassroots and focus on what it is that makes you a unique photographer. The essence of your business is YOU – it is essential that you keep motivated and creative.
You Have Access to Skilled Professionals
Instead of having to rely entirely on yourself, you can share the workload with a professional editor. Even if you have some skills or experience editing, outsourcing to those who have focused only on editing, means that their skills and knowledge will have surpassed yours.
Not that we don’t think you aren’t already a professional, but when you outsource your photo editing to someone who provides photo restoration services you are dealing with a pro in their field.
It’s a little bit like asking a gourmet cook to whip up some burgers and fries. The gourmet cook would not only scoff at the suggestion you have to respect what they do. The gourmet cook specializes in a certain kind of food preparation.
That’s all they do and because of that, they become experts in that specific field. The same thing applies to photo editing. Unless it is the only thing you do, and you keep yourself training up with the latest techniques you are not going to become an expert.
So, farm that stuff out to someone with the proper skills who can make your photos look spectacular.
Also, having people with experience and expertise working on your images can allow for collaboration to solve any problems that might arise. And, the more you use a specific company or editor, the better your relationship will become, making sure that they prioritize your work.
Outsourcing editing can also take your business to a new level.
The better your photographs are, the more clients will want to hire you. If you are honest, it is easier to see what is wrong with a photograph that is not yours. That is why an outside editor can often be better at retouching your photographs than you will be.
It might be difficult to accept, but it is often the case. None of us want to show work to anyone that is far from technically perfect. This can happen if we edit our own work as we get so used to seeing our own images.
We need to get over any fear we have of others judging our work so that we can get the best work out to the client.
All Editing Needs Are Under One Roof
If you outsource to a professional editing company, you have a single point of access for all your editing needs.
You might need image retouching, but also background manipulation and a professional editing company will offer that without you sending your photos from one place to another. Also, as the company or editor’s business specializes in editing, they will have the latest and up-to-date software and equipment that will ensure that all aspects of your editing can be sorted out.
This ensures a high-quality finished product, that you would never be able to achieve on your own.
Lower Labor Costs
If you are outsourcing, you do not need to spend the money to hire someone, which could have legal ramifications for your business. It also would mean perhaps paying someone even when you are not busy.
You would have to have the right equipment and software and ensure that the person you hired had the necessary up-to-date expertise. Even if they had the experience, you might still have to take more time training them to meet your specifications.
All of this is of course negated by outsourcing your editing.
You are not hiring an outsourcing company in order for them to become part of your staff which would require salaries, benefits, incentives and additional infrastructure in order for them to operate fully within the confines of your photo business.
By only having to pay someone for photo restoration services you end up saving a bundle. Don’t get us wrong, if expanding your business includes a photo editing department, good for you.
However, that’s likely not going to happen for many photographers. That is what makes the math so attractive – less paid out for the service.
So now you might be more confused than ever.
You started off thinking it was a definite NO, now it’s a MAYBE. When you read you will have more time for family and other important things, you were leaning towards a YES. When you thought about the cost and trusting someone else, you wavered.
Only you can decide whether outsourcing will work for your business.
But – if you have no time for marketing, no time to follow up on inquiries and no time to do more shoots, you need to take a realistic look at your business and instead of asking yourself:
“Is it worth my time?” you need to ask, “Is my time worth it?”
There’s a reason why photo restoration services exist.
It’s to help photographers like you to compete in the competitive world of photography. They also provide a valuable service that also enhances your services making you and your camera more attractive in a comparison between photographers.
We all know that sometimes that perfect photo is the result of a little bit of software magic. There’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever. With professionals available to use when you need some photo editing assistance, it only makes good business sense to make use of these experts.