"Could you Photoshop this for me?" I'm pretty sure that's something every photographer hears on a far more regular basis than any of us would like. I get it, people want better photos. Maybe they didn't see that trash can in the background, or they couldn't get everyone with their eyes open at once, or they didn't like the color of shirt they were wearing in the photo. Whatever it is, chances are you've been asked to fix it at one point or another. Well now you don't have to, now you can just refer your friends to Mendr.
The concept behind Mendr is pretty straightforward and will be familiar to anyone who's used services like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, etc. Users download the app on their phone, upload an image they want edited, tag it with the edits they want, and send it off to the cloud. It then pops up in the Editing Pool where Mendr-certified editors can claim it, perform the edit(s), and send back to the user. From the user's standpoint, it's an incredibly straightforward way to elevate their images. From the editor standpoint, it's a great way to quickly make a few bucks doing editing work most of us perform on a regular basis anyway.
Mendr is the brainchild of Dallas-based entrepreneurs Pat Thibodeau and Josh Farrar. "I’m a photographer," Pat told me when we spoke on the phone about his app. "It's always been a bit of a hobby and I've always done lots of editing. My wife was sending me photos to edit and I would but there was just one day where I thought 'why is there no service where you can simply send a photo off and have someone edit it and send it back, all from your phone?' So I did some research, but there was nothing user friendly and mobile based that really focused specifically on photography."
Pat and Josh started working on the app together before launching it in closed beta in 2016. After a period of testing and refinement, they publicly launched Mendr in March of 2017. "It's really been picking up steam," Pat says. "We've really been focusing on organic growth and word of mouth. We're introducing people to a brand new behavior; sending photos for professional editing all from your phone is a foreign thing to most consumers."
And that's really the key to Mendr, it's a brand new behavior process. I first heard about it from a friend a week or two after it launched and was intrigued enough to give the app a try and then take their test to become an editor. I've been doing edits on Mendr for a little over three months now, and it's been really interesting seeing the types of images people send in. If I had any doubts about the viability of Mendr as a consumer service, they were put to rest over the past few months. I've edited everything from people's vacation photos, to selfies, to product images for startups. Every image I work introduces me to a whole new use for the app and convinces me that this will "be a thing."
My initial reaction to Mendr was something like "Yeah, it's cool to have better images, but will people actually want that and be willing to pay for it?" The answer is yes, and as more people learn the "new behavior" Pat was talking to me about, the more I think this app will pick up steam. I think the process is almost addictive for some users once they realize what a big difference a trained editor can make on their photos. I've Photoshopped enough tourists out of the backgrounds of vacation photos now to see what a big difference that makes to people, I've added a bow to a baby's head, pasted Jordan Spieth into a golf foursome, removed power lines and street signs from group photos, and more. I've even had a few images of my own that needed some object removal that I couldn't do from my phone and it was easier to just send off to Mendr, and I've also been able to refer friends and family to the app when they've come to me to ask me to "just Photoshop this for me real quick?"
So obviously Mendr has two different core groups: users and editors. I imagine most of our Fstoppers readers are fairly well-versed in Photoshop and don't have as much of a daily need for quick edits, but many of you are probably like me and enjoy editing and wouldn't mind making a couple of bucks every day flexing your muscles in Photoshop. While I'm not going to tell anyone to quit their day job and edit on Mendr full-time (not yet at least), I have certainly found it worth it to keep the Request Pool screen open on my desktop whenever I'm working on other things. I think of it as my "Chick-fil-A and beer money" job since it's pretty easy for me to make a few bucks every day in my spare time for not a whole lot of work.
And the money thing really is one of the aspects of Mendr that I appreciate as an editor, Pat and his team work hard to keep incentives in place to not only encourage editors to work, but to reward them for the quality of their edits. Users can rank their edits from 1-5 stars and editors' work are tracked to make sure they're meeting Mendr's fairly stringent quality guidelines. "We keep a close eye on user feedback and the kind of work editors are doing," Pat says. "If our users don't trust us to deliver top-notch quality edits, then there's no point in them using Mendr."
Mendr has two primary type of edits, the Editor's Touch (which is free), and a Tailor Edit (which is priced based on services requested). The Editor's Touch is meant to be basic toning and editing for an image to elevate it from how it looked straight out of camera; think like what you might do quickly in Lightroom or Camera Raw. This is completely free for Mendr users and is a great way for them to give their photos a little punch without resorting to over-the-top filters and effects from standard apps. The Tailor Edit is where things get real, selecting this option gives you an extensive menu of photo edit choices that you can pick and choose from. Anything from removing objects, adjusting hair length, blemish removal, body re-shaping, clothing adjustments, and many more. You can even upload reference photos for the editors to use in completing your edit, or even request to have your image match the same effect as the reference image (say you want your image to have the same visual style as Kendall Jenner's latest Instagram post, you can do that). users can also use virtual "chalk" to outline specific areas of the image that they want worked on.
Mendr really is a fascinating tool that is perfectly timed for our image-centric society. Your average person doesn't have the time or training to make simple photo edits that come naturally to most photographers, and Mendr gives them the ability to have those edits done for them for a low cost and with little effort on their part. I see this being a huge tool for a wide range of users, from "Instagram influencers," to moms who want to take their family photos to the next level, to small-business owners who need image work done on a budget. Mendr addresses all those needs and more and co-founders Pat and Josh are highly committed to keeping the level of quality that their editors deliver as high as possible. I highly recommend Mendr as a solid tool for not just your friends and family, but for your own phone as well.