You’ve been busy quietly building your little photo empire. It is simmering along nicely, and you are super happy with the direction you are going in. You have BIG plans and that is exciting!
BUT you also feel kind of overwhelmed by all of the tasks you need to do to service your clients. Photo sessions, emails, contracts, galleries, photo books. And editing. So much editing. It never ends!
I bet when you started your photography business you never imagined how much time would be spent in front of a computer? But here we are.
It is the classic case of always working IN your business rather than ON your business.
But what can you do?
Enter private editing!
Outsourcing your editing is one of the quickest ways to reclaim lots of your time AND provide an exceptional client experience. Imagine shooting a wedding, selecting the images, and then sending them off to your own private editor. A few days later they are returned and look almost identical to how you would have edited them. You add a few more creative tweaks and *BOOM* they are ready to share with your client within a few weeks rather than months?
Hours and hours of work consolidated into a simple 1-2 hour task. Sounds good right?
I have seen first-hand the power of private photo editing. My clients have been able to scale their businesses in ways they never imagined, offer new services they’ve spent years dreaming of, launched online courses to spread their knowledge, and lots have just reclaimed the weekend again.
But my experience has also shown me that private photo editing needs to be a considered choice. Not every photographer is ready.
Hiring a private photo editor is not a silver bullet for your business woes.
It is a helping hand.
So today I want to have some real talk.
If you are considering hiring a private photo editor, please read this to decide whether or not your business is at the right point to outsource.
So without further ado.
If there is one thing that’s come up time and time again in the private photo editing world it is this:
Photo Editing is not a fix for bad photo technique.
There is no nice way to put it. A bad photo is a bad photo, and no amount of editing can fix that.
Before you consider outsourcing your editing, make sure you are nailing your photos IN camera.
Never fall into the “I’ll fix it in post” mentality. That only leads to tears.
One of the biggest challenges we as editors face is photographers expecting us to turn their less than perfect images into something magical. Sorry. It isn’t going to happen.
With the explosion of influencers finally sharing the outsourcing secret, we get a lot of photographers coming to us who think hiring a private photo editor is the secret to making their substandard photos look great. But it isn’t. Never confuse photo fixing with photo enhancing.
I always recommend you honestly evaluate your work and how you are currently editing. Are you fixing poorly executed images or are you making them work for your brand? Do your presets work almost effortlessly when you apply them? Or are you tearing your hair out and thinking “Why won’t this preset work?”
Getting images as close to perfect in-camera is the best approach. Find yourself struggling at receptions? Learn to shoot flash! Terrified of portraits in mid-day sun? Learn how to use harsh light to your advantage (it is possible). Images always a little bit soft? Find out how to make them sharp (newsflash – you don’t have to shoot a wedding on F2.0 to get the light-and-airy look).
It is your job to take the best photo possible, it is an editor’s job to enhance it and make it speak to your vision and brand.
I cannot stress the importance of being confident in your editing style.
As photo editors, we can only edit according to what you show/tell us. If you are going back and forth, it is really hard for us to match your vision because there isn’t one.
Chopping and changing an editing style can feel like re-inventing the wheel. You will be going nowhere fast.
One tip I give to new photographers struggling with trying to identify their unique style is to avoid looking at anything being created in their industry. The comparison trap is real and it destroys photographers. That often means muting their entire IG account for a period.
You have to stay in your lane
What works for one photographer may not work for another. Lean into your photography. Experiment and find what works best for your unique shooting style and location (see my previous post to learn about the importance of location). I work with some seriously talented photographers that use the latest, greatest and most expensive presets and I work with others that use some $10 editing recipe they bought five years ago.
What they have in common is they’ve developed an editing style and formula that works for them and their work. They are comfortable with it and don’t try to reinvent it every time. It may evolve over time, but they don’t second guess it.
Only once a photographer has truly settled on an editing style will their private photo editor be able to truly learn and master their vision. And that is when the magic happens.
Why did you hire a private photo editor? To free up time, right? Have you gotten that time back or are you still spending hours tweaking images once they have been returned?
I’m going to level with you. There is always going to be a nuanced difference between your edit and your editor’s edit. Editing is a hugely creative and subjective pursuit. It is going to happen and any editor that tells you otherwise isn’t being realistic.
We editors always aim to match your vision 100%, but that doesn’t always happen. We may make the blacks a hair darker or bump the exposure up a tiny bit. Now, don’t mistake me, maybe we have gotten something massively wrong. In which case let us know so we can fix it, but if the differences are truly minor, I want you to ask yourself the following three questions:
“Will my client notice or care?”
“Did I capture a wonderful moment for my client?”
“Am I serving them to the best of my ability?”
The most successful photographer/editor relationships are the ones where the photographer releases control of the editing process and knows that their editor will deliver a gallery that, to the untrained eye, represents their brand and represents it well.
They might decide to do some minor tweaking (what I call the creative flourishes), but nothing that will take up a huge amount of time because what is the point of outsourcing if it creates more work?
Private photo editing works best if you set your expectations and relinquish some control of the editing process. It is about looking at the bigger picture and deciding if you are giving your client the best experience possible and achieving your biggest goals.
Outsourcing your photo editing has the power to transform your business for the better. And by answering these three questions first, you will know whether or not you are ready.
If you decide the time has come then I have one final question:
What will you do with all your newfound free time?
If you think you are ready to discuss how I can help with your photo editing, then drop me line.
I’m cheering you on.
I’m a Lightroom ninja who loves helping busy professional hybrid and fine-art photographers reclaim their time. I specialize in hybrid photography editing and film emulation for digital photographers.