If you are going to take the outsourcing plunge, though, you need to have the
right mindset. If you are going in thinking
whomever you hire will be doing things
100% like you would do them, then give
up now! I mean it. No one can be you. No
one can see the world 100% the way you
want it. And you are just setting yourself
up for failure. For us, it’s a continuous
fine-tuning process—lots of feedback
back and forth.
A typical wedding takes me about 8-12
hours to process. This includes the culling process, white balance, color correction and high-end editing. If I can get
someone to save me 10 hours or more
on processing, that frees me up to shoot
more and we all know that more shooting
equals more income.
no matter what’s going on, I will always
have someone there, processing my pictures. When I get super busy, I don’t have
to hire new employees; my outsourcing
company has to. When things slow down,
I don’t have to fire anyone. Again, this falls
onto the plate of my outsourcing company.
They deal with all the employee and training issues and I get nothing but upside.
So, what should you be looking for in
an outsourcing company and for what,
exactly, should you be using them? Listed
below are my personal criteria for selecting
a company to work with.
someone somewhere responds back to me
in 48 hours. It takes way too long to solve
simple problems or just get an answer to
a simple question. I want a face to come
with the name. I want to know who is
working on my images and then be able to
give them personal feedback in real time.
I have been working with the same
editors for the past three years. They have
access to our studio calendar and know
when clients are coming in to ensure
they don’t miss key dates during our busy
season. That’s customer service.
Made in the USA
I know it sounds a little cliché, but at the
end of the day, I want to know where my
images are and who is working on them.
I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night not
knowing that. For this reason, it is very
important that the company I work with is
If anyone should understand the impact
of customer service, it should be us as
photographers. In this age of the Internet,
the art of getting in touch with a person
seems to have been all but lost. If I have a
question, I want to be able to pick up the
phone and talk to someone. What I don’t
want is to have to send an e-mail and hope
This is one of the biggest factors for us.
We promise our clients they will see their
images in two weeks. Just like the postal
service, we have to deliver in rain, sleet
or snow. Clients don’t care about what
else is going on or how busy you are; they
want to see their images. Not to mention,
this is strategic to your sale. The sooner
you can get clients into your studio to see
their pictures, the better your sales will be,
guaranteed. And this holds true whether
we are talking about a wedding, family
shoots or senior portraits. After a wedding,
the couple gets pregnant, they buy a new
house, the wedding buzz is over and sales
drop significantly. Having a post-production partner you can rely on here will have
a huge impact on your bottom line.
Workflow can be whatever you want
it to be. Mine is as follows: We shoot
a wedding; download and backup that
event locally on two different drives;
copy the job to a portable external hard
drive; ship the HD to our post production company that processes the job
and e-mails me the XMP files (we work
in Lightroom); I then import those files
and render the images in Lightroom; I
go through the catalog to see if there are
any images that were missed (this will
happen no matter what); and finally, I
select my top five images and take them
into Photoshop for some heavy duty
editing (most companies should be able
to provide this service for you). All in all,
it takes 15-45 minutes of my time total!
Compare that to the 10-12 hours it takes
to do it yourself, and you will never process a wedding on your own again.
While pricing is a concern, there are a
host of other factors that will drive your
decision. Do yourself a favor: Don’t make
a decision based purely on price. This is
a decision that will impact your studio’s
brand, customer service and, ultimately,
its income, so make sure you are selecting
a partner that will grow with you and your
business, and understand that by making
you successful, they will ultimately have a
long-lasting relationship with you. That, to
me, is a true partner.