March 10th, 2015
Nick recently ask the following question:
I was wanting your opinion on contracting out all the post processing using websites like Elance and Odesk and if its at all do able in this type of work. I know the urgency agents put on contractors and so I’m curious if employing others off shore would work in the time frames expected. I’ve already made some enquiries and theres plenty of people out there willing to do the work for a fraction of the labour costs charged locally, or mine for that matter. I found a small company from the UK that specialises in real estate photography and they mentioned many of the image changes you’ve written in your books, so with this in mind, is it very common for agents to want additional changes to images as this is one of the only hurdles I can think of when going in this direction.
On the general subject of contracting out your post processing I have to say that I don’t recommend it for someone just getting started. Post processing is an important part of real estate photography and an integral part of your product that you need understand intimately. Once you understand it, you may or many not decide to outsource.
It is possible to develop a shooting technique so there is almost no post processing required. That is, you get it right in the camera. For details on how to do this see Scott Hargis’s book: The Essential Guide to Lighting Interiors.
We’ve discussed outsourcing several times before here on the PFRE blog and there are two general schools of thought on outsourcing and they have to do with the way you wish to approach your business:
- Your business focus is on the quality and creative style of your photos: With this approach, post production on a photo is as much a part of the artistic process as taking the photo so you can’t delegate the post processing to anyone else. With this business approach you increase your income by charging more because your work is higher quality than your competitors. With this business model outsourcing makes no sense.
- Your business focus is on the number of shoots you can do: With this approach you do everything you can to become more efficient and to do more shoots. The photos you produce are like a commodity, so you can teach someone on the other side of the world to do it for you. With this business model you increase your income by doing more shoots so at some point you’ll need to have dedicated in-house post processing or outsource your post processing to increase your volume.
Both of these business models work. There are successful real estate photography businesses that use some degree of one or the other of these. There’s nothing right or wrong with either. It’s a matter of which approach feels right to you.
Update Mar 11: If you outsource and are satisfied with the results you get please leave a comment indicating what company you use.