Private Photo Editors vs. Big Box Company: How To Decide

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Private Photo Editors vs. Big Box Company: How To Decide

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Last week we talked with you about 3 ways to speed up your editing workflow, and gave you a bonus tip to outsource your editing. This is the ultimate way to save your valuable time. So maybe you’ve come to the conclusion that you’re ready to outsource – where do you even start? How do you know which editor is right for you?

There are a lot of options for outsourcing your editing, but today I want to cover the two main types of editing companies – big box or “batch” editing companies and private photo editing companies. Let’s discuss the differences between these two options so that you can choose which is right for you and your business. 

Let’s start with a quick definition of each type of business. Big box editing companies are  large corporations that employ many different editors and serve hundreds of clients. These companies use a “batch-edit” approach, usually making very minor adjustments to each image. Given the nature of these larger companies, you won’t work one-on-one with any of their editors. Private photo editors (including agencies and individuals) are smaller businesses that work with each client one-on-one, and use a “hand-edit” approach, applying more detailed edits to every image. 

There are 3 key differences between big box companies and private photo editors that we will break down to help you decide which is right for you.


Big box companies are almost always going to be much cheaper than private photo editors; sometimes up to half of the price. Typically these batch edits will run you anywhere from 15 to 25 cents per image. Many photographers go with big box companies as a cost saving decision only to later find out that the amount of time they are saving isn’t nearly as much as they were planning on because they have to re-edit the photos. As we’ve talked about, time is money, and going with a cheaper cost up front may cost you time down the line. 

Private photo editors will usually be more expensive. The industry standard is currently around 39 cents per image. However, as we’ll talk about in the quality and client experience sections, this higher price tag often comes with higher quality edits which ultimately saves you more time. This is not to say that big box companies are never the right choice. Many photographers use batch editing companies as a starting point in their editing workflow and it works really well for their business. It comes down to your budget and what you’re looking for.


How “ready” do you want your catalog to be upon delivery? With batch editing, you likely won’t find that the company delivers a catalog that is near ready to deliver to a client. In fact, you may find that you end up tweaking or re-editing the majority of your images.With a private photo editor you might need to make some small adjustments, especially at the beginning as your editor is learning your editing style, but with the right private editor, your catalog should be pretty close to ready to deliver when your editor is finished with it. 

In our company, many of our clients have gotten to the point where they don’t even send anchor images with their gallery because their editor knows their style so well and can reproduce it consistently.

Once again, you need to decide how much of the process you want to hand off. Do you plan to do a lot of work on your images once you receive them? If so, a batch editor may make the most sense. If you decide that you want to do as little editing as possible, maybe only editing for your blog and then handing the rest off to your editor for completion, a private editor will be a better choice.

Client Experience

In my opinion, this is the biggest difference between a big box company and a private photo editor. 

When you work with a big box company, it’s extremely rare to have the same editor more than once. You don’t get to have a one-on-one relationship with your editor. The selection for who will edit each of your catalogs comes down to whichever editor has capacity at that time. With private photo editors, you are assigned an editor that will edit all of your catalogs, providing consistency with every image. Your editor learns your style and is able to show that consistency in the edits they make. 

Communication is another aspect to consider. With a batch editing company, it can be hard to get in touch with someone in a timely manner, even harder (maybe even impossible) to get in touch with the specific person editing your images. Like I’ve mentioned, with a private editor, you get a direct line of communication to the person editing all of your galleries, and can email them at any time.

Maybe you’re thinking, “okay I know I want to work with a private editor, but should I go with an agency or an individual?” Let’s break down the difference. A private, freelance editor is an individual that works one-on-one with all of his/her clients and only takes on a select number of clients per year. An editing agency consists of a team of anywhere between 3 and 10 editors who are assigned their own clients and work one-on-one with them. 

So what are the differences between these two options?

The number one difference is back-up coverage. If you go with an individual editor and they end up going on maternity leave or taking a few weeks off for vacation, you likely won’t have anyone to edit for you during that time. If you opt to use an agency, while you have a main editor for the majority of your clients, you also have back-up editors who can edit for you in the case that your primary editor isn’t available. 

Think you might want to work with a private agency? Keep reading to learn a bit more about what we offer:

We sweat the small stuff.

We know that our clients’ editing style is a huge part of their brand and reputation and we take that very seriously. One of our core values as a company is “We sweat the small stuff”. We teach our team to edit images for their clients as if their name is on the line.  Every image is meticulously edited to match the style of our client and we have a process in place to ensure consistency is achieved.

Our signature client process.

We’ve created a process that ensures our clients are happy with the catalogs they receive back from their editor. From Zoom calls, to the forms that we send, we’ve got a process down that provides not only consistent edits for our clients, but a smooth and user-friendly experience.

There are many differences to consider when deciding to go with a big box company or a private photo editor, but regardless, we encourage you to have a consultation with any potential editor! We created a completely free resource for you to grab and have in front of you when you sit down to do your consultation. We created this because if you’re anything like us, any time you have a consultation or important call all of your questions leave your mind the minute you answer the phone! This PDF will help make sure that you get them all answered. Download your free question checklist HERE.

private editors vs. big box editors

  1. […] you have a hack to make your editing more convenient and far quicker but as we’ve been talking about in recent posts, sometimes the best way for you to truly make editing more convenient is to outsource it! If you […]

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