Last year I got married. It was a small ceremony on an exotic island, nothing like my own wedding photography work. But it gave me insight into what it feels like to be a client. To my surprise, I wanted to see our photos immediately. I just couldn't wait to relive the experience, relish in the excitement, and enhance the memories. And I wanted a small selection of photos to show my friends and family right away for all the same reasons.
The experience changed my whole way of thinking about the wedding photography aspect of my business. Up until recently, I had been doing all image processing myself, only delivering the images and slideshow when the entire job was complete. During my busy season, this process could take up to four to six weeks before my clients would see any photos from their wedding. They would be calling and emailing, anxious to see their photos. As a recent client, I now know that timeframe is unacceptable.
From the photographer's perspective, I also knew this approach was no longer working for me. With an expanding business, I had become a processing machine. Hundreds or thousands of RAW images needed to be edited, color corrected, exposure adjusted, and cropped following every event, and the clock would be ticking as clients waited to see their images. Add to that my portrait and commercial work, and processing had taken over. Where was my creativity and passion for photography?
This year I decided to approach my wedding photography as I approach my commercial photography business-by focusing on fewer images and delivering them quickly, creatively, and with exceptional quality. For commercial clients, however, I'm not delivering the rest of the images from the shoot. For weddings, obviously the bulk processing still needs to be completed. In order to free my time to focus on a few select wedding images, I now outsource the image editing and processing to Jaincotech.
Workflow That Works
After an event, I import all of the images into Adobe Lightroom and copy the files onto an external hard drive, which is immediately shipped to Jaincotech. They handle the image editing, color-correction, and exposure adjustments, returning the best images processed and sorted by category. With the bulk processing off my to-do list, I'm able to creatively process the 20 to 30 images that best represent the wedding story. I use these stunning images to create a small preview book to send to the couple within one to two weeks of the wedding. The book arrives in a beautiful organza bag, and is small enough to easily fit in a purse to be taken everywhere. It's a great gift for the couple, as well as a great promotional piece for my business-I print a card for the first page that includes their names and wedding date, along with my logo and website address. My clients are thrilled, and those emails and phone calls asking about their wedding photos have vanished.
I've had a similar experience with outsourcing my retouching services. For every print order, I've always retouched the image in detail prior to printing. This year, the print orders have exploded with my expanding business. So I now outsource my retouching to Jaincotech as well, which allows me to focus on creating a beautiful presentation for clients' print orders.
While other photographers have opted to hire digital tech assistants and/or bring in additional computers, I knew this solution wasn't for me. I was looking to simplify my business, to enable me to focus on the photography, not add complexity to my business. Also, I wouldn't want someone less skilled than me to be servicing my clients. Jaincotech's experience serving the demanding stock-photography market proved to me that their work would be superior to mine and would not compromise my standards.
With outsourcing, my clients are more satisfied, and I'm definitely happier focusing on providing better and more creative services and products. And these expanded and enhanced products are also great marketing for my business, which is bringing in larger wedding bookings-and which I now have the support to service, and service well.
Christina Kiffney (www.christinakiffneyphotography.com) is a professional photographer based in Boulder, Colorado. She services both national and local clients with advertising and editorial photography, creative portraiture, and contemporary wedding photography.