The 80% Solution

What’s the Question?

To outsource or not to outsource, that is NOT the question.  Outsourcing post-production is something to consider for every photographer that wants to have more time to grow their business.  The decision to outsource should not be the point of concern.  Rather, how to manage an efficient post-production workflow and the role of outsourcing in that environment are where the focus should be.


Control Issues

Okay, almost all photographers have control issues when it comes to someone else touching their images.  That’s understandable – the images are a personal artistic extension of the photographer.  But control issues have to be reconciled with the need to off-load the time spent in front of Lightroom and Photoshop in order to grow the business and make more money.  How to do that?

While the control issues can become pervasive and debilitating, there are some parts of the process that are more affected than others.  For example, most photographers are insistent that no one else can cull the images the way they can – the photographer was there, the editor wasn’t.  Plus the photographer likely took any number of shots with the forethought of how those would look in a blog post or album layout.

In addition, the final look and feel of the images delivered to the client represents the photographer’s individual style that, they believe, was the reason the client signed them on in the first place.  While this may be only partially true, the need for the photographer to deliver a set of images that they feel good about is an important part of the equation.


The 80% Solution

It is important to keep in mind the goal:  Save time while still delivering a quality set of images to the client.   In order to reconcile the control issues with the need to have more time for the business, many wedding photographers hit upon a very workable solution:  They cull their own images, send the keepers out for RAW image processing and color correction, and then do the final finish work.   It saves about 80% of the time a photographer would normally spend on post-production.

This not a compromise – it is a workable solution to a real world problem.  This enables the photographer to maintain control over the two parts of the post-production process that are most important to them – culling and finishing – and leaves the more difficult, time consuming part for outsourcing.   By reorienting the workflow this way, photographers can spend the kind of time necessary to keep the business going and growing.  After all, isn’t that the goal?