DIY vs. Outsourced Image Editing – Extra Cost Or Minimal Investment

The Economics of a Photography

Image Editing – a part of the process, or a thorn in your way?

The journey of an image, from a click to publishing, is spread out like a race track. Image editing is the pitstop that fuels and sets your car up for victory in the hearts and minds of every beholder. Some may choose to sit down at this pitstop, doing the job themselves, but if they’re on the pitstop, who’s manning the driver’s seat?

Editing images comes at a cost, whether you’re a photographer doing this yourself or outsourcing. Subsequently, the cost of having images edited needs a better understanding and a fresh perspective.

Let’s break this down into simple terms:

DIY Image Editing Costs

If you’re thinking editing images on your own will require no costs, think again. The following is a breakdown of the costs involved in DIY image editing.

Software and Hardware Costs

Photography Business Cost Comparison: DIY vs. Outsourcing

You have your clicks downloaded on your hard drive. You can view it and perhaps share it with someone over mail, cloud storage, or a USB. But that’s all you can do with a normal PC. Image editing requires specialized hardware and software.

Basic computers and laptops may be able to handle your images, but editing them requires a much higher configuration that can range in the thousands, not to mention the expanded RAM and GPU you would need to render high-quality images.

Even if you may have the hardware, image editing software can also set you back in thousands. Paying for the right software that allows image editing, with their license, may seem exploitative, but it is nothing that you can sidestep.

Time Investment and Opportunity Cost

Beyond tangible costs, your time as a photographer also weighs in heavily. As per a report by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), photographers spend approximately 28% of their working hours on image editing. This data implies that if the median pay for photographers is $36,280 per year (as stated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020), the annual cost of editing time alone is over $10,000. To make it more complicated, a photographer may also need to invest more time in learning image editing techniques and perfecting it over time.

The opportunity cost of your time spent editing can’t be underestimated either. You could invest this extra time in marketing efforts, expanding clientele, honing photography skills, or even personal pursuits.

Outsourcing Image Editing Costs

Photography Business Cost Comparison: DIY vs. Outsourcing

Variable Costs

When you hire an expert to edit images, you will obviously incur some form of variable costs. Yes, it costs to have an image edited, but that, too, depends on the volume of images and the complexity of the task.

Image editing firms may charge you as low as 0.20 EUR for one image, going up depending on the types of processes you add to your cart. There are quite a lot of organizations out there offering differing price ranges and expertise.

Time Saved and Indirect Revenue

Just as with DIY, time plays a significant role in outsourcing. The hours saved by not editing can be used on other revenue-generating activities. As stated earlier, these could include expanding your business, marketing, improving your photography skills, or simply offering a quicker turnaround time for clients—enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty, which can indirectly boost your revenue in the long run.

A Comparative Cost Analysis

To put this into perspective, let’s assume a photographer takes 500 photos in a wedding shoot, out of which 200 photos require editing. Should he or she choose to outsource, the cost for basic editing would be just $40 (200 photos x $0.20/photo). Even for advanced retouching, the cost would be $2,000 (200 photos x $10/photo). When contrasted with the annual cost of $10,000 spent on DIY editing, the potential savings become clear.

Intangible Aspects to Consider

Photography Business Cost Comparison: DIY vs. Outsourcing

Cost is a significant consideration, but it’s not the only one. Certain intangible aspects must be weighed in this decision.

Creative Control and Personal Style

DIY editing allows for unmatched creative control. The photographer has the final say in the image’s look and feel, maintaining their unique style and signature. This sense of ownership and control can’t be equated with a price tag. But, being able to communicate your taste to image editing experts may set you up for more than what you bargained for.

Efficiency and Expertise

Conversely, outsourcing brings its advantages. Delegating time-consuming tasks allows photographers to manage their workloads better. They gain access to a team of experts who stay updated with the latest editing techniques, ensuring their work remains cutting-edge.

The Final Verdict

In conclusion, the decision to DIY or outsource photo editing comes down to individual business priorities. If retaining complete creative control and preserving your personal style is paramount, then DIY may be your path. Conversely, if efficiency, time management, and access to specialized skills are more critical to your business model, outsourcing might be a more strategic choice.

It’s crucial to remember that while cost analysis provides a valuable, data-driven perspective to your decision, both quantitative and qualitative aspects should be considered. Your photography business isn’t just about numbers; it’s about creating beautiful images that capture precious moments. Ultimately, the right decision is one that aligns with your business goals and helps your work shine brightest.

Picture of Tazim Ul Mulk

Tazim Ul Mulk

As a fervent writer and an enthusiast in the beauty of imagery, I wish to show the world the true meaning behind each image.