What Is a Photo Editor And What Do They Do?

Sounds kind of odd, right?  Every time I describe what I do and use the words "private photo editor," I feel as if I am a part of some top secret mission gearing up to save the world.  Worse yet, I recently realized I am a little concerned about how this "job title" will come across when my child attempts to start describing it someday!

So the truth is...while it may not be "top secret" it is behind the scenes.  And though I am definitely not saving the WHOLE world, as a photography editor I am making a BIG difference in my clients' world!

Summer Kellogg Photography

I recently told someone what I did and their honest to goodness response was "people pay you to edit their pictures?  But why?"

Prior to spending a year as a wedding photographer myself, I may have considered it a little "silly" too!  After all, isn't that what wedding photographers are paid for?  To take pictures and then edit them?  Why would any bride want to hire a photographer who pays someone else to do their work?  

Well for the sake of this post, we're going to take just a quick peek into what a wedding photographer's job really involves.

A wedding photographer's job description:

  • 20-30 weddings per year
  • 20-30 engagement sessions per year
  • Any extra sessions in addition to weddings/engagements
  • 2-3 phone/in-person consultations per couple
  • 10-12 hour wedding days
  • Post wedding editing (blog images), blogging, thank you gift/card to bride & groom, finalizing of wedding gallery, delivery of prints/products
  • Marketing (includes welcome packets for new couples, additional blogging, ad management, brochures for wedding vendors, wedding fairs)
  • Website management
  • Tax management
  • Gear management
  • Travel for sessions/education
  • Continuing education

So a wedding photographer's job in a nutshell, and this barely covers the bulk of it!  

Wedding photographer's spend SO much more time away from their camera's than most people realize.  They say a photographer's job is roughly 20% taking photos and 80% everything else!

What is a private photo editor?

Well to start - that is me!  I am a 28 year old woman; I am a wife; I am a mom;  I am passionate about photography and all things creative; I love the color green and anything involving history; coffee is a must EVERY morning; and I dream of re-doing my own farmhouse someday.

And I am a private photo editor.

Late last year, I started a completely home based business using knowledge and skills that I had already obtained from my work as a photographer.  As a photographer, there was one area of my business that I found I really "focused" on and it was ALWAYS editing.  I am an all in kind of person and so when it came time to edit photos I had just shot, I would spend HOURS (literally) making every possible change that I could to create perfection in post-production.

This started with Photoshop and then I quickly found Lightroom (thank goodness!).  Initially, I was always extremely frustrated with myself for obsessing over the editing side of my photography.  I could have invested more time in focusing on the actual photography aspect of my business.  But I was determined with editing, and I wanted to learn everything I possibly could about this process in order to make my art the best it could be. 

Let's be honest, there is certainly a better way I could have approached editing rather than spending all of that time in front of my computer failing and learning and repeating the process over and over again.  However, I think everything happens for a reason and in the end, my time spent focusing on the editing side of my business has served me so well in directing me to this new business as a private photo editor.

It wasn't easy, making the decision to transition from wedding photographer to photo editor who edits FOR wedding photographers.  Fortunately, the transition itself has been smooth and it was one of the best decisions I could have made.

What does a photo editor do?

So, what do I do now that I am no longer "shooting?"

I edit!  In the six short months since I have made the decision to become a private photo editor, I have been fortunate enough to start working with a WONDERFUL group of sweet, talented, and driven wedding photographers.

These ladies have been an absolute blessing to me and my business and I can only hope that I have been able to equally bless their lives and business as well!

I work with women from all across the nation, spanning from Arizona, to New Jersey, Texas and New York!  They are strong, wonderful women,  They are daughters, sisters, wives, and moms.  And they have reached a point in their own businesses where they have found a need to start "outsourcing" some of their business tasks in order to maintain their business and their lives.

Each of these wedding photographers that I work with are dedicated to providing their couples with a high quality service and photos.  In order to do so they invest a lot of time and expenses into their education and practice!  They also strive to find a mentor who can help them succeed and blaze a trail that proves effective rather than reinventing the wheel.

As a photo editor, I am fortunate to have the same experiences with education and mentorship!  Marissa Lynn is an AMAZING editor who has taken the time to share her knowledge and experience with editors in order to create a system that works.  Her own photographer clients include Katelyn James, Annamarie Akins, Brandon Kidd, and more!  

With a tried and true system in place, the work on each photographer's end is extremely minimal. As their editor, I simply ask for feedback particularly within the first 1-3 weddings.

Photographer Responsibilities:

  • Initial consultation to discuss unique editing style
  • Reviewing Jen Kaiser Boutique Photo Editing Welcome Guide and agreeing to business practices and workflow
  • Sharing up to date calendar with future wedding/session dates
  • Exporting gallery Smart Previews at agreed upon time and sharing to Dropbox for Jen (continuous for each gallery)

Jen's Editing Responsibilities:

  • Setting up initial meeting date/time for initial consultation
  • Reviewing and learning photographer's editing workflow
  • Receiving Smart Preview catalog from Dropbox and importing for editing
  • Consistent edits as agreed upon to match photographer's unique editing style
  • 3-5 business day turnaround time
  • Exporting final edits gallery and sharing to Dropbox for photographer

I love what I do and I am grateful to offer a relatively simple process that can help relieve one major task from each photographer's workload and allow them to focus on other areas of their business.  While doing so, I have been able to create a business at home that meets my lifestyle and still accomplish some amazing business and creative goals!