As we are gearing up for our busy season in Arizona, I wanted to do a blog post for photographers to share our secret sauce for getting through the craziness and keeping up with our turn-around times.

During 6 weeks in October and the beginning of November this year, we have 19 weddings as a studio. On October 18th – the most popular wedding date in Arizona this fall – we have four weddings and all six of us will be shooting. Most weekends during this period we have at least 2-3 weddings. And to top it off, I am also teaching a workshop during that time. It’s going to be insane.

Our turn-around time goals are pretty ambitious. For my weddings, we shoot to get all the proofs online within one week, and for our associate weddings, we promise three weeks but shoot for two weeks. Suffice it to say, we’re having to employ some serious strateg-ery (made up word) to have any hope of keeping up with our deadlines. We printed off our iCal for October/November and took a pencil to it to plan out exactly what needs to get done each and every day in order to meet our goals. Since our associate photographers don’t do any color correction or editing (they only cull & FTP to us), the studio has to process each wedding, deliver products, and send images to vendors. It’s A LOT.

Our secret sauce for this craziness is ShootDotEdit. We outsource the bulk of our associate weddings during busy season to our post-processing partners at SDE. Here is a review of some of the things I love about ShootDotEdit:

1 - They make our images look consistent every time based on our chosen color profile. They are all about skin tones, which I love. Their goal is to get those dialed in. They don’t match our editing style exactly, but they get our images 90% of the way there, and my office-manager, Alaine, can dial them in the additional 10%.

2 - They have SUPER-fast turn-around times. Typically our jobs are done and back to us within 48 hours.

3 - Their DotPreview service gives us a sampling of 10 images from throughout each wedding, provided in one business day. That way we can check them and tweak our chosen color profile, if necessary, before the whole job is done. Again – SUPER fast.

4 - Their Lightroom 5 Workflow utilizes the Smart Preview feature in Lightroom 5 so we can send smaller preview files rather than full-size files. This makes our file-sending time significantly faster both ways.

5 - Their UNLIMITED Plan is great for busy studios shooting more than 8 weddings per year. You get unlimited editing for a fixed monthly price. For what it will cost you to have one wedding edited elsewhere, you can get a majority of your color correction done by ShootDotEdit throughout the entire month. No more worrying about paying per job, you get the ease of just one monthly payment. They also have a Rollover Plan, which allows for you to submit 1 wedding or 2 portrait sessions each month for only $99/month.

What I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes, as a business owner, I need to let go and outsource in order for my business to survive. And I need to do so even MORE if I want it to grow. I need to get these types of tasks off of my plate and over to some experts I can trust, so that I can work on tasks like networking and marketing that will help open up new opportunities and bring in additional revenue. So often photographers who have young businesses feel they can’t afford to outsource. But more than likely, they can’t afford not to. Outsourcing is definitely one of our tried and true keys to success.

So if I’m being honest, I’m still a bit unnerved every time I look at our fall calendar. But I guess we’re as ready as we’ll ever be! BRING IT ON!
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