How To Develop A Professional Relationship With Your Photo Editor

Every photographer has a season that they walk through when the calendar feels completely overwhelming, and as they get to the other side they tell themselves “I’m never doing that again.” Most photographers then make a commitment to either book less work, or consider outsourcing their editing.

If you’re at this turning point in your business, then congratulations to you! This is a big, next step in your business. And it really is a “step” because it takes you from Solopreneur to collaborating or hiring on help. It’s important to really give this decision some weight, as it not only affects your business, but you are now impacting someone else’s business as well. While it may feel scary, it doesn’t have to be.

Treat this decision with the utmost respect, put in the work, and before long you’ll feel a lasting change in your business that you’ll never want to let go of! Of course, transitioning out of the role of Solopreneur isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated either. Working with a Private Photo Editor often means developing a long term relationship in your business.

As a Photo Editor I’ve worked with several photographers for three years, since I first got started! I have thoroughly enjoyed cheering them on and watching their business grow. I’ve also appreciated the way they treat me with a level of professionalism each business owner deserves. In order to correctly develop YOUR relationship with a Private Photo Editor, I’ve outlined some important things to consider as you get started.

DON’T RUSH THE BEGINNING

If you were to hop on a consult call with me, there’s one thing you’ll ALWAYS hear me say. “Starting with an editor is like hiring an employee, it takes TIME in the beginning and it’s important to do it right.” As a photographer, I understand, you are outsourcing in order to take to-do’s OFF your plate, not add to it. Am I right? However, when working with a private photo editor, you’re working with an individual, and developing what will hopefully be a long term working relationship. Take the time to get started correctly.

Here’s what I often see happen. Photographer starts out the year at a normal pace, would love to outsource, makes a few inquiries, and then decides it’s not the right time. Photographer then gets into their busy season, panics, reaches back out to the Editor with a long que of weddings/sessions that need edited and wants to get started immediately.

I’ve walked through this scenario as an Editor so many times. Yes, it CAN work out and yes it’s doable, but it’s NOT the best option. Why? 

  • As a photographer, it’s important to make sure that you can set aside time to understand the Editor’s business, new tools you’ll be implementing for outsourcing, and expectations. It’s important to remember, if this season is busy for you, it’s definitely busy for an editor.
  • As an Editor, it takes time in the beginning to learn a new photographer’s style. Personally, I always extend the turnaround time on the first one to two weddings that I’m editing so I can diligently walk through the catalog and understand the photographer’s style without feeling rushed.

RESPECT THEIR TIME AND SCHEDULE

Since we’re talking about schedules, this is another area to consider when developing a professional relationship. There’s a key difference between outsourcing to an individual and outsourcing to a company. A company allows you to work off of YOUR schedule. Typically, you can send off catalogs however and whenever you like. Got behind in your schedule and need to send off three weddings at once? No problem. With a company, you often have more than one individual editing your work, so the company’s schedule doesn’t affect yours.

When working with a private photo editor, you’re often working with an individual business owner. You’re working with a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend. You’re also working with a fellow business owner. Private editor’s have more clients than just you. The trade-off? Knowing exactly who will be editing your images and how. You’ll find consistency with an individual that is typically lacking with a company. You’ll also find a timeline and workflow that benefits you as a photographer in the long term!

STAY ORGANIZED

Obviously, organization is a must in any business. That being said, it’s even MORE important when you’re collaborating or working with another business. This goes right along with respecting an Editor’s time and schedule, but staying organized will also help you to respect your own time and schedule. 

Bringing someone else into your business, even on a contracted basis, may force you to shift your way of doing things a little. As I mentioned, you may have to set aside some time to walk through an onboarding process. You may have to adjust your workflow in order to accommodate the new schedule and plan. And there’s probably going to be information, invoices, login’s, etc. that you’ll continue to reference throughout this working relationship.

Staying organized shows signs of mutual respect. It means that you not only value your business and time, but you also value theirs!

BE PROFESSIONAL, ALWAYS

I’ve been editing full time for three years, and I get it, sometimes working relationships just don’t work out. But as I heard Katie Selvidge recently say, “this is a business, not high school.” Don’t create enemies within your industry, and yes Editors ARE within your industry as a wedding photographer.

You may be thinking that you have always acted professionally towards another industry peer, but have you? Here are just a few things that I have found to be unprofessional over the years:

  • Inquiring to an editor and not responding to their follow-up
  • Ghosting an Editor at any point in the working relationship (after a consult, after signing a contract, even after getting started with the first several weddings)

Ghosting: The practice of ending a relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication

  • Not sending catalogs within a timely manner, without an explanation
  • Not providing feedback for several weddings, and then “dumping” criticism (not productive feedback) on an Editor
  • Having unrealistic expectations for an Editor IF you did not meet the expectations on your end of the relationship

It’s OK to change your mind about working together, to end a professional working relationship if you need to go in a different direction, and to provide feedback regarding editing in order to help your Editor better understand your style. In every situation, ask yourself, how would I want someone else to approach this situation if I were in their shoes? Professionalism and a succinct explanation goes a long way!

NEVER ASSUME, ASK

Finally, along with professionalism, remember that Editor’s are human and they make mistakes. How often do we find that the story we tell ourselves in our head, is much different than the reality that actually occurs? 

The Photographer/Editor relationship is one that typically develops over a keyboard, thousands of miles away. Therefore, when something less than ideal occurs, it can be really easy to get caught up in what we think happened versus what is reality. Truthfully, this goes for any relationship. Clear communication is key. And in situations when something is confusing, unclear, or incorrect, a relationship disaster can usually easily be avoided with a quick email and providing grace. 

I hope this helps guide your relationship with every individual you work with in your business, not just Photo Editors. Each decision you make in your business can have a lasting impact, whether you can see the immediate effect or not. Start each relationship with the time and care that it deserves. Choose to respect a fellow business owners time and your own. Stay organized in your business so that you can make the most of your investment. And always choose clarification, clear communication, and professionalism over slander, drama, and thoughtlessness.


Now that you know how to develop a professional relationship with a Photo Editor in your business, are you ready to see success with your investment? I thought so! I have so much I want to share with you regarding this working relationship, but I just couldn’t fit it all into one post! Come back next week for Part 2 and learn how to have a successful experience with outsourcing your editing. See you next week!

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Information regarding private photo editors

Oh hey there!

Jen here. I’m a registered nurse turned private photo editor and I love dipping my toes in both the creative and analytic world.  So it goes without saying that on the blog you’ll find must have resources for photography, editing, business and living a healthier well rounded life as a creative entrepreneur.
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