Asking Photo Editors for a Portfolio
I completely understand that outsourcing your photo editing is a scary thing. You’ve taken time to perfect your craft, and trusting someone else to edit your images correctly is NOT easy! So when you’re looking around for an editor, I understand that it’s natural to want to see some past work. Besides, you probably wouldn’t hire a photographer or a graphic designer to do work for you before seeing a portfolio. It makes sense not to hire a photo editor without doing the same!
That being said, hiring a photo editor is a really different scenario. Here’s why: we aren’t using our creativity to create something new or unique for you. Instead, we are applying your personal style to your catalogs. How are you going to be able to tell if an editor does a good job if you see before and after images in their portfolio of someone else’s style? I could show you thousands of before and after images I’ve done for other photographers, but you’re not going to know if I’m a good fit for you based on all of those images because it’s not YOUR style! The main thing you want to look for in a photo editor is CONSISTENCY. Can they look at your catalog and get all of the exposures and white balances to look the same? This is the key to finding that perfect editor for you!
Instead, ask for this:
If you’re nervous about selecting an editor to work with this upcoming year, I’m going to give you some advice. If you want to see some work before working with them, consider asking them to do a test catalog with sample images instead. This will mainly apply to weddings, family portraits, and other sessions that do not require extensive Photoshop work. For newborns, 1-2 test images is perfect. In my personal opinion, this is a perfectly okay to ask for a small sampling of test images. However, not everyone will agree with me.
If you’ve found an editor you love and think will be a great fit, but you’re really worried about your work, ask them if you can send them a test catalog. If they’re okay with it, it should only be 20 images maximum with about 5-8 pre-edited images. The images you include should all be from the same area and time of day. For example, a handful of bride/groom portraits is a perfect sample. If you have a second shooter, feel free to include some of their images! This will allow the photo editor to show you whether or not they can maintain consistency with changing light and possible white balance differences between cameras.
If you are satisfied with the work, then you should feel confident with choosing them as your editor! Keep in mind that this doesn’t always guarantee that the first few catalogs will be perfect, but as long as they’re close, then you should feel confident in the editor you chose!
Look at Testimonials
Something else you can consider before trying a new photo editor is their testimonials. What are other photographers saying about their experience with this editor? If you trust the photographers who have said great things about the editor, then you may consider sending them an entire catalog knowing that changes can be made once you get it back. Confidence in your editor goes a long way, and they will appreciate that you trust them to do a great job from the start!
Before I go, I want to throw out a quick disclaimer about this post. This information is intended for photographers looking to outsource their wedding and portrait work to a private photo editor only. When it comes to more Photoshop intensive work, then I strongly believe that editors and retouchers DO need a retouching portfolio. Retouching requires a whole other level of detail and work, and you need to make sure you are getting someone who is not only skilled and pays attention to detail, but also knows what they’re doing!