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Help Create A PFRE Trusted Post-Processing Vendor List

filesharingThis week I've had discussions with Andre in Toronto and Anil in Dehli about creating a list of recommended post-processing vendors. Anil said, "I suggest adding a list of trusted overseas real estate photo retouchers on your website".

For years, I've been resisting the whole subject of outsourcing because I don't do it and there are many vocal PFRE readers that make a case that you can live without it. At the same time, there is a growing group of successful readers that choose to outsource at least some of their post as they become more successful and do a high volume of work and need help. There is also, a growing number of readers that do post for others. As long-time readers will recall, I' have a mixed record at choosing trusted photo retouchers so I've set up a scheme where you can help me.

Here's is my solution: I've created a list of Suggested Post Processing Vendors to the blog. This list is created based on past blog comments and my intuition from just talking to vendors. I'd like readers that try out these vendors to give us their feedback in the comments of the page after seeing results and using them for a while. This way, we can collaborate on creating a list of trusted vendors based on PFRE community experience.

How to give feedback on these vendors: To make this all work we need to have those of you that use or try out vendors on this list please do the following:

  1. Use the comments on the Suggested Post Processing Vendors page to tell us your experience with the vendor you use or try out.
  2. Both positive and negative comments can be helpful but be clear about whether you evaluation is positive or negative.
  3. Be restrained with your comments. That is, don't exaggerate or have a hair trigger with negative feedback. This is someone's livelihood you are voting on. Be as fair as possible.

I will summarize the positive and negative comments in on the list. If we do this well it can be a valuable resource for those readers that choose to outsource their post-processing.

Update Jan 15, 2016: If you are a post-processing vendor wanting to get on the list talk to me directly, don't leave comments on this post or the Suggested Post Processing Vendor list. Here are my requirements for getting on the list:

  1. Talk to me directly. Don't just leave comments on this post or the list page.
  2. Be able to converse in English and respond to emails quickly.
  3. Have a website or page that presents your companies service and prices and examples of your work.
  4. Tell me about your operation and why you think you should be on the Suggested Post Processing Vendors list.

12 comments on “Help Create A PFRE Trusted Post-Processing Vendor List”

  1. I have used overseas post processing, but I find I cannot provide photos to my clients before the next morning, which is what my clients expect. Plus I have to re-do images and it is just not cost effective. I spend many spring/summer days up till 2 or 3 AM then up the next morning shooting. Its just the way the business is - its not a glamorous job and its hard work. Go figure. Best to hire someone in-house - like a family member to do the processing! Of course, my daughters are not interested.

    I looked into people in the states, but they want too much for the image processing. Any more than .50 per image is too much for me to consider to fix white balance, straighten and crop as needed. The Idaho one is $3 per image!! Thats more than half of what I get for my normal 36 image package! The others on your list don't show the pricing, but the Canada is $75 for normal homes - $150 for the bigger homes! Too much! I'll do it myself and keep my hard earned money - for something so simple to do its just not worth it.

  2. I see a lot of overseas outsourcing of software coding by web developers also. We all have to do what is needed to stay in business, but can't you find suitable places to source this work with your countrymen?

    It may be cheap, and it may be done well, but isn't this exactly why we have so many people out of work?

    I would much rather see this excellent site promote the small businesses rather march down the path to outsourced work competing with local work.

    It is not much of a stretch to foresee huge companies hiring out of work photographers by the hour, with no rights to the pictures they take, and then out sourced port processing. A local small business could not compete with that model. It happened in manufacturing, it happened in software, lets not help it happen in Real Estate Photography.

  3. Larry, I think this is an excellent idea. While I understand and commiserate with those making comments above and recognize that real estate photography is one of the lowest paid of commercial photography fields, that too is the reality. As a purely business decision, if you have the energy, it makes more sense to spend your time shooting than doing your own post processing if you can get it done for less than it costs you to do it if you are having to turn down the higher paying work of shooting properties. As an old git, I am grateful to spend time sitting doing my own post work but then I am not typical. As such, I have yet to use out sourcing for post. But I do know of a couple that live abroad but are Americnans who prefer to live in other countries for reasons of their own and are offering quite good prices for excellent work if their websites are anything to go by.

    For those who have not yet used other businesses to do their post processing or those who have yet to find a reliable outsource source, I think a list of proven vendors would be an excellent idea for those that want to find a processing partner but are not sure who to trust.

    The question of "America first" is surely another topic. I feel that is hardly a fair position to take, although understandable, when there are so many American photographers who live and work in other countries who would be out of work and adding the the competition here in the US if other countries operated on the same basis. I ran into this in France myself when my magazine executive editor died and his replacement installed a new policy of "French photographers only". In the US, there are many foreign photographers working and prospering in our economy so we have a history of broad inclusion in professional photography.

    So to make my post even longer but to round up - Yes Larry. A great idea for those that want to take advantage of growing our businesses by doing what is most profitable - shooting.

  4. @Mike Cartwright - Yes, this argument has been made to me in the past and for a few years, it stopped me from having a list of post-processing vendors on the blog. However, we live in a global community Mark Reibman's kids in Cambodia get just as hungry as Shawn Clabough's kids in Idaho. Like it or not the Internet has created a business playing field where it's just as easy to have your post-processing done with Mark in Cambodia and Anil in Delhi as it is with your next door neighbor.

    @Kathy Ward - Yes, absolutely, this is why I do my own post-processing. I think there are big benefits to doing it yourself, but the fact is many real estate photographers that shoot high volume outsource their post.

  5. "However, we live in a global community Mark Reibman’s kids in Cambodia get just as hungry as Shawn Clabough’s kids in Idaho"

    Thank you for that, Larry. I never understood the mentality that outsourcing is bad. $3US is literally worth about 50x more to a Cambodian than it is to an American. A single processed image beats the average daily income there. I'm not saying one is more or less deserving, or that we should choose one over the other to make it some charity case. I'm just saying $3 gets you a whole helluva lot more over there.

    And just to be clear, I'm not seeking a debate on socialism and the global economy. Just wanted to +1 Larry on reminding us that a person is a person regardless of where they live.

  6. I barely belong in this conversation since being only 1 year into this... I started w/ hdr and struggled so much with processing I finally gave up and got a job. I'd had plenty of willing clients since being a local RE agent off & on for 25 years, but my photos absolutely SUCKED. Several weeks into a job selling cars (ya do what ya have to) I was contacted by an outfit in Vietnam offering processing for what seemed ridiculously cheap. Just for fun I sent them some raw files. When the photos came back my jaw hit the floor. Compared to what I could do they were s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g.

    The light came on and I immediately quit my job and resumed real estate photography. Clients were reluctant to give me another chance but I worked through that. Everyone liked the photos but there was this fear building inside me: What if I woke up one morning and the processed files from Asia weren't sitting in my inbox? I certainly couldn't match their results - what would I do? My friends in Vietnam were making me look like a star, but I was playing with fire.

    Funny though, looking at my photos after competent processing taught me what could be done. I stopped trying to do 2 or 3 houses a day, focused on just 1 and spent free time processing my own photos -AFTER sending the very same files overseas. Every morning I compared mine to theirs and learned more. Today the results are more or less the same and as you might imagine that's more than a huge relief.

    I pay a little over a dollar a photo. It's a deal like no other. I can shoot more houses per day or spend evenings with the wife (maybe both). Whenever I wonder if I'm getting good product I just try to better it myself - and rarely can. The link from this note points to 8 photos, four of mine, 4 theirs. To my eye there no difference (except massive time savings).

    I HIGHLY recommend finding a good processor.

  7. Moving to a global that we should exploit by paying them starvation wages? What about using a local student or similar, and teach them the trade as you go on?

  8. Just a quick note - the first link seems to be broken, though I guess it's not a problem as the second one is working fine. Thanks!

  9. Thanks Larry for putting together this list and giving people options.

    I just wanted to chime in and let people know that I respect whether they outsource offshore, outsource onshore, or in-source. It's all what is best for their business model. Do the math, decide for yourself how you want to spend your time, have fun, be happy, and make a living.

    I decided up front that I did not want to be the cheapest on the block - which many photographers make the same decision. I set my prices so that I would have the volume of business that works for me - charge too little and I'd be overwhelmed, charge too much and I'd not make enough for what I value my time.

    For those that are considering outsourcing, keep in mind that you don't have to outsource everything. Most of my clients only send me a portion of their photos, like when they have too many shots in a week, or they want to spend time with their family a particular day or weekend, or difficult shots that they want an expert post-processor to work on. In the example above, I agree that outsourcing all 36 images wouldn't work, but choosing 5 of the most important might only cost $15-$25. If that adds value to your business, then consider it. Find someone consistent, reliable and suits your style.

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