Bi-Weekly Discussion Thread: Processing (outsourcing + life quality)

AgnieszkaAgnieszka Photoshopping ...Between Denver and BostonRegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,262
edited September 14, 2010 in Weddings
(Yiikes, haha ... sorry for the title, I had to keep it short (I guess), haha!)

I'm always up for suggestions for our "bi"-weekly discussion threads, this one comes from Matt S. :D:

I'm actually just going to copy paste some of the stuff he sent me, as I don't think I could say it in any other (better) way:

___

People discuss workflow all the time, but what they usually don't discuss is the practical effect it has on our real life and our business. Is your business profitable if you take 40 hrs to photoshop a wedding? Is your social / family life suffering because of your processing perfectionism? Then, would your clients care if you delivered images SOOC, or out-sourced your color correction? Can you make your business profitable enough to pay for that out-sourcing? Or if photography is a hobby, should you still pay to out-source your processing? And why is out-sourcing so taboo? We used to out-source the processing of EVERY image we ever clicked, if you think about the film days... Or, if we did our own film processing, again that came at the expense of LOTS of our time *and* money... If people think photoshop and a computer are expensive, try equipping and stocking a working dark room!

What do YOU guys think?

Comments

  • mpauliempaulie Making People Grin Registered Users Posts: 303 Major grins
    edited August 27, 2010
    I am in the infancy of doing photography as a business but business sense is business sense. So unless I have an extremely unique personal processing style it comes down to the value of my time. If your time is valued at, just for example, $200/hr, that's the number you've come up with that you need to charge to live the life you want to live. This number will be different for everyone as well has how long it takes you to process images for a wedding. For me, I think I can process 100 images an hour just doing basic corrections in lightroom, if I'm delivering ~700 images that is $1,400 worth of my time. I've seen very reputable processing businesses out there that do up to 1000 images for around $300, even if it was $500, that is still a 66% savings in my time. Real world example, you may probably spend an hour checking the files and making small changes which would be $200 worth of your time for a total of $700. That's still half of what you would want to pay yourself if you did it.

    Lets say I did have a very unique style that was at the core of my business and this was not an option. I would hire or subcontract someone, train them and pay up to $50/hour to process my images. It all comes down to what is your time worth to you and your family, once you know that number it is easy to make decisions on whether something like this will benefit you or not.
  • mmmattmmmatt Big Grimace Registered Users Posts: 1,347 Major grins
    edited August 27, 2010
    I will probably be farming out my RAW conversion stuff next year. That has been the part killing me this year. If all I had to do was creative processing and culling then I would have much better quality of life. Of course, you have to have that money in the budget to do it! Up until recently I would rather keep the $300 and work another 20 hours during the week, but I think I am at the point where it is best that I farm stuff out next year. I did a 25 image test run with photographer's edit and they did pretty good work, but I'm not convinced that they are going to get them back to me fast enough so I am looking for suggestions on who to use. Maybe in a few years I can have an employee that will do that stuff, but for now I will probably just use a service.

    Matt
    My Smugmug site

    Bodies: Canon 5d mkII, 5d, 40d
    Lenses: 24-70 f2.8L, 70-200 f4.0L, 135 f2L, 85 f1.8, 50 1.8, 100 f2.8 macro, Tamron 28-105 f2.8
    Flash: 2x 580 exII, Canon ST-E2, 2x Pocket Wizard flexTT5, and some lower end studio strobes
  • AgnieszkaAgnieszka Photoshopping ... Between Denver and BostonRegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,262
    edited August 30, 2010
    Speaking of "RAW farming" (hehe, love that expression). Does anybody on here do that? Who are you using & "why"? ear.gif
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaRegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,352 Major grins
    edited August 30, 2010
    Angie I'm so glad you posted this; it's a discussion that all of digital photography needs to have.


    First let's just consider the professionals and "paid photographers". Every business venture needs to have a support structure. The problem is, when it starts as a fun hobby and transforms overnight into a paid gig, you tend to forgo the support structure. Sometimes for way too long, and burn-out is common.

    But a support structure is very simple- Which things are worth your time, and which things are not? How long does it take you to photoshop 100 images, and how much would it cost you for someone else to do it?

    You should do the math for your own self, but chances are the numbers are shocking. You're probably doing thousands of dollars worth of work each week / month that COULD be done for just a few hundred. When you think about it that way, it's a no-brainer!

    However most photographers just don't budget for this on the front-end. You'd rather avoid a $200 post-production bill, do the work yourself, and keep the money.

    Hopefully photographers will sit down and do the math before it's too late. Just tack on $400 to your (event photography) prices, even if your price *IS* $400, and tuck that money away to spend on post-production. That money is BUYING your free that you can now spend on other things, the IMPORTANT things like calling up your clients personally and letting them know their pictures will be online in a few days, instead of a few weeks/ months...


    Next I'll post my thoughts on workflow as a completely un-paid hobbyist... :-)

    Oh and Angie, I recommend Photographer's Edit or Colorati. They do GREAT work!

    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
    My SmugMug PortfolioMy Astro-Landscape Photo BlogDgrin Weddings Forum
  • KinkajouKinkajou Major grins Registered Users Posts: 1,240 Major grins
    edited August 30, 2010
    I've been thinking about this too, and I think mmmatt touched on a good point: farming out the basic conversion/exposure adjustments/WB adjustments, etc. seems like a good idea if it will allow you more time to work creatively on the cleaned up images.

    What I do have a little bit of an issue with is when people get the 'creative' processing outsourced as well. I guess it just becomes a question of how much is your own style and how much is a boxed style that you pay for? Does that matter?
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  • shutterbug616shutterbug616 Big grins Registered Users Posts: 63 Big grins
    edited August 30, 2010
    I started my photog buisness..sadly..The month the housing market kings went before congress asking for bailout money.. The writing was on the wall..Laughing.gif Well I know I've spent enough to make myself marketable in the county I work in. I've sold some work..(Prints), been hired for weddings and done some pro-bono work. (hate that stuff) But the exposure was good.

    I find it hard to charge for what I enjoy doing, it almost sounds evilish.. like taking candy from kids.. its the worst subject to discuss when talking with a client and i often leave it for the last part of the discussion.

    As winter is around the corner, buisness will be even slower because my work is done outside. (I despise wally world back drops.) Time to tighten the belts a bit.. :)
  • QarikQarik Krazy Korean Registered Users Posts: 4,959 Major grins
    edited August 30, 2010
    I am at point in my photography where processing is still fun most of the time and I am still learning as I go. I don't do a per hour analysis yet because it's silly to think that someone is going to pay me $200/hr to watch tv or play my playstation3 or read a book (which is what I would be doing if I wasn't editing). I think I would have be doing a wedding every weekend to justify outsourcing.
    D700, D600
    14-24 24-70 70-200mm (vr2)
    85 and 50 1.4
    45 PC and sb910 x2
    http://www.danielkimphotography.com
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaRegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,352 Major grins
    edited August 31, 2010
    I find it hard to charge for what I enjoy doing, it almost sounds evilish.. like taking candy from kids.. its the worst subject to discuss when talking with a client and i often leave it for the last part of the discussion.
    If you enjoy doing pro bono work, then that's fine. As much as it makes me cringe to imagine how many people are out there eating into the industry doing freebie work, THIS discussion here is NOT about business, it's about the quality of life.

    This is about avoiding burnout. If you can do X amount of work each month without sacrificing too much of your social / family life etc. ...then, mission accomplished.

    However, for most people there will eventually come a time when burnout does become a risk. When that time comes, you'll have to get better at talking to people about money, and budget for your post-production if you're at risk of beginning to loathe sitting at your computer.

    :-)

    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
    My SmugMug PortfolioMy Astro-Landscape Photo BlogDgrin Weddings Forum
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaRegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,352 Major grins
    edited August 31, 2010
    Qarik wrote: »
    I am at point in my photography where processing is still fun most of the time and I am still learning as I go. I don't do a per hour analysis yet because it's silly to think that someone is going to pay me $200/hr to watch tv or play my playstation3 or read a book (which is what I would be doing if I wasn't editing). I think I would have be doing a wedding every weekend to justify outsourcing.
    Yeah, I click about a quarter-million images every 1-2 years, and cull that number down to the actual processing of 30-40K images each year. :-)

    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
    My SmugMug PortfolioMy Astro-Landscape Photo BlogDgrin Weddings Forum
  • heatherfeatherheatherfeather Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,739 Major grins
    edited August 31, 2010
    This is a great topic.
    I haven't yet begun outsourcing the processing, but it is gonna happen eventually, I know. Because at this point, my processing is holding me back from doing more shoots. I hate turning down work, but I am at my limit to what I can get done myself. It seems like a smart and really fairly inexpensive step to increase my biz aaand perhaps I'll get to actually experience a bit of summer instead of spending the entire time chained to my desk. (Which is what I did this summer. And it was sad.)

    One of my biggest concerns is that I would like to do the culling myself... but it is so hard to cull without tweaking. I'll just have to use strong self controll and hold back. But that is all in the future. I"ll prob finish up this season myself.
  • kyeeziekyeezie Snappin' into it Registered Users Posts: 290 Major grins
    edited August 31, 2010
    This is a great topic! thumb.gif I don't know why, but I never wanted to do this. I guess I thought people won't see the pictures like I do. Whoever, if there is a certain picture I want a little different, who's to say I still can't tweak it after the fact? I am leaning toward this more and more, as it takes away time I could use for another job. Matt, I am going to try the free trial with Photographer's Edit, thanks for the recommendation. bowdown.gif
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaRegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,352 Major grins
    edited August 31, 2010
    richy wrote: »
    One major concern is the time taken to upload the files if your upstream net connection is slow. Its one thing uploading jpgs, another entirely uploading raws at 5-6x the size.
    ...Which is why most post-production companies just let you send them a portable hard drive....

    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
    My SmugMug PortfolioMy Astro-Landscape Photo BlogDgrin Weddings Forum
  • JVPhotographyJVPhotography the edgy girl Registered Users Posts: 6 Beginner grinner
    edited September 13, 2010
    We outsource all of our editing at this point. I shoot, cull, then upload/download and deliver to the client. Since we do a lot of airbrushing on our boudoir, and we have a specific style, we hired an individual contractor and trained her in our style of airbrushing and color correction. egnyte.com has an excellent set up that's fairly priced and easy to use where we can ftp to our files back and forth. I'd highly recommend egnyte if you need an ftp server, which even comes in handy when getting large files to a client.
  • indiegirlindiegirl Light Wrangler. Registered Users Posts: 930 Major grins
    edited September 14, 2010
    When I get to the point in my workload where I am not in balance, you better believe I'll outsource for the basic editing. Time is money. Also, I like the idea of supporting another artist in a meaningful way. Everyone wins.
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