What Outsourcing to India Really Looks Like

What Outsourcing to India Really Looks Like

If you are like me, you probably get numerous emails and Facebook messages from people in India wanting you to use their services for your image editing. While these individuals may give outsourcing to India a bad reputation, I’m here to show you what it’s really like at the reputable post-production service provider that is located in Mumbai, India: Pro Image Editors.

What They Offer

Outsourcing your work can look a lot different depending on the type of photographer you are. The great thing about Pro Image Editors is that they cover pretty much every area of image editing. They have an entire department for photographers such as myself who want to outsource their wedding photography editing. If you are someone looking for portrait retouching, real estate editing, stock photo services, and much more, PIE covers all these areas as well.


The great thing about this system is that they have a department for any type of photography service you could be looking for. This means you are not going to get someone that knows a little bit of everything. Instead, your images will be edited by a person that has been specifically trained to perform the individual task they are assigned to. For example, if you send a wedding to get culled and edited, you will get image editors explicitly qualified for those jobs. They even take this a step further and have specific departments for culling and another for editing. 

The workplace at PIE is also strictly secured so that you don't have to worry about your images ending up in the wrong hands. Images are only accessible to the individual who is assigned to your job. The machines are locked down so that it's impossible for images to be pulled off of a computer and onto an external drive or USB stick. Additionally, workstations are not connected to the Internet, and the editing personnel is not aware of any names or addresses. Instead, editors are assigned jobs through the use of unique client codes.

Working for PIE

One thing that you can be certain of when you send your images to PIE is that the employees editing your work are not only trained well, but are also compensated appropriately. Each employee goes through an extensive training program for the job for which they are applying. This isn’t simply on-the-job training. Instead, employees attend college-like courses at an off-site school that specializes in the various skills PIE workers need.

One of the questions I had when visiting the facilities in India was centered around culling: How does someone from India know what is culturally significant in a wedding from another country? The way they handle this issue is that the people assigned to the job of culling actually go through cultural training. If the person, for example, is going to be assigned to cull German weddings, their training will incorporate crucial aspects for that type of wedding. That way they make sure to include moments that may not have great images, but are still culturally significant.

When it comes to people in charge of editing, colors become a very important aspect of their job. In this case, editors are given tests on color accuracy, each monitor is consistently calibrated, and the working environment is controlled to minimize outside factors that could affect color.

Besides the job-specific training, PIE also offers development opportunities for their employees within the company. This can be as simple as moving up to a group leader role for their specific group or moving into other roles outside the scope of editing. Some of the other positions they offer include quality control, customer service, and other managerial duties.

When it comes to compensation, employees are paid in two ways. The first one is by a base salary, which is comparable to what a teacher would make. From here, employees have the opportunity to earn raises of up to 300-400 percent based on output. The important thing here is that PIE values quality over quantity. Every job that is delivered gets checked. If a job fails quality control or gets returned by a customer to be redone, that job no longer counts towards the possible bonus. This is important to know because people could have negative views toward outsourcing to India based on the perception that they might be funding a company with poor working conditions as well as bad ethics. But this is far from the truth when dealing with PIE.

Right now, PIE doing a giveaway. In order to participate and get a chance to win PIE credits worth $50, complete the following steps:

1. Go to www.proimageeditors.eu/first50.

2. Sign up for your free PIE account.

3. Place an order within 10 days after signing up in order to be entered into the giveaway.

4. If you sign up quickly, place an order. If you are one of the first 50, you’ll be notified about the coupon.
*This giveaway is also valid for existing customers.

The great part about this giveaway is that all new customers will get a free trial of up to 500 images color-corrected in Lightroom and up to two images retouched in Photoshop for free just for signing up, even if they are not one of the first 50 people.

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Gordon Cahill's picture

I get about half a dozen unsolicited calls and a dozen emails a week from these places. And when you tell them you'll never use their services they keep calling and emailing. Week after week after week.........

Jason Vinson's picture

This company does not participate in those types of "marketing"

Tino C's picture

I'm pretty sure I got spam more than once from them.

Yin Ze's picture


Carl Murray's picture

I don't begrudge a business having sponsored content, bills gotta get paid, after all... but I do wish they would make it a little more obvious so I know I'm not reading a real review, but just an advert.

cameramanDop Shanghai Hong Kong's picture

Yes, I would love to see the real office on all the others one.
Looking too beautiful to be real...

Jason Vinson's picture

This is the real office. I visited the facility and took these images myself.

Jason Vinson's picture

"pointless comment"

Carl Murray's picture

"snarky response from irked author from poor reaction to his blatant advertising."

Eduardo Francés's picture

Not pointless under the FTC rules you should be following: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/04/ftc-staff-reminds...

Jason Vinson's picture

It's pointless because it's already labeled here and on the homepage.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Basically, we are going back to film days when we just dropped our rolls at the lab the night after the event and a few days later received the 4x6 proofs. Then we (or the clients) chose the selected ones and they ended up as 8x10 in a leaf album.

Although many times I would love for others to do my post edit work, many times it would be for comparison purposes and not merely to save time. Our skills must include post processing at the highest lever.

However, I would definitely try outsourcing portrait shots for advanced retouching.

Thank you for the info.

Jason Vinson's picture

it's a lot more involved than the traditional Walgreens film lab. They work with you to match and reproduce your style of editing.

Motti Bembaron's picture

My lab was way more involved than Walgreen, or whatever pharmacy lab out there. My lab knew what are my preferences according to the film I used. Printing from negatives is a skill that took long time to achieve and develop.

Besides, what professional photographer would give her/his film to a pharmacy to develop?

Jason Vinson's picture

ah I got ya, I misread your comment. So yes this is similar to sending your film to a good lab just with digital files.

Alex Armitage's picture

This might be great for outsourcing selection processes. Shoot a wedding of 5000 photos and send it off for someone else to make selects.

Random question, is the first image the training/learning area and the other images are once you are a full on employee?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

I spend around 1 minute for 100 images to cull my first selects. And I'm not sure I want to trust anyone in this process.

Alex Armitage's picture

Man, can I hire you? I'd love to get through 100 images a minute! lol

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Lightroom or PhotoMechanic?

Jason Vinson's picture

The header image is one of the editing/culling rooms. The cubicle areas are for quality control and customer service since they need to be on the phone.

Mr Blah's picture


There, at least now it's a bit more clear...

Jeez, the ethics on here...

Jason Vinson's picture

The article is clearly labeled as a sponsored post so the ethics on here are doing just fine.

Carl Murray's picture


Mr Blah's picture

Clearly? If that's your criteria for transparency, you have bigger issues than shitty info-mercials on this site...

Fritz Asuro's picture

Yah... Our company regretted this move after having 14 retouchers fired and thinking outsourcing would save us more money. It did... also headaches for every single magazine page needed tp be layout.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Every time I tried to deal a company in India/Bangladesh they failed on first step - none of them were able to associate and properly use XMP file attached to RAW. That tells a lot about their professionalism.

Dragan Medakovic's picture

ads taking over.

Jason Vinson's picture

Trollololol. This is the only sponsored post in at least the last 100 articles. That must be really overwhelming for you!

Dragan Medakovic's picture

it's not about the number of sponsored articles.
it's about what is published as sponsored.

it's expected from fstoppers to maintain some level of quality.

if that service looks anything close to quality to anyone, he should quit photography or video.

this is like having sponsored article about ford pinto on a formula one forum.

this , really?


Jason Vinson's picture

I've personally visited the facility and used the service multiple times. They are great people and do good work at a reasonable price. Linking to a 3 year old video posted on a YouTube channel they don't even maintain anymore is hardly proof of poor work.

Dragan Medakovic's picture

This is on the website , under examples, so..

if anything , it's proof that they don't even maintain their own website.

Good work is a subjective term.

Reasonable price is expected from any outsourcing from India.

Rex Larsen's picture

I'm glad this was labeled as "sponsored."
We all must understand the goal of most sponsored content is to look like editorial content. Whether labeled sponsored or not the giveaway is the lack of other similar products and services included in the "feature" and any sort of critical review.

Years ago I stopped purchasing and reading Outdoor Photographer magazine because most of their feature stories were about their advertisers products.

Fstoppers is not a nonprofit business.
I'm hope they always use the "sponsored" disclaimer.

J J's picture

It's not really an option not to in that they are required by law to indicate if content is sponsored

Kim Silver's picture

I just went to see some examples of their work. This was the only one I see in the "people" category, beneath all the options... impressive :D

Jason Vinson's picture

I just went looking and I'm not even sure where you found that? But I have used their services and I can say with certainty that they do good work and they have great customer service.

Ted Chen's picture

It's nice to see some behind the scenes of these outsourcing companies, even if it's just a sponsored article. At least they're trying to be transparent.

Roger Morris's picture

Unfortunately, you don't know what you're looking at in any those pictures ... it could be some sort of call centre in India, it could be anything ... and please don't be fooled into thinking that anybody is trying to be transparent ... this is 100% an ad trying to convince you to buy a service.

I've no issue with sponsored material, but laying the ad out as if it's an article, with only a small "sponsored" tag at the top is disingenuous, and indeed borders on insulting to those who have bothered to make accounts at Fstoppers, and who stop by on a regular basis on the belief that we're visiting a trusted photo news aggregator site.

Jason Vinson's picture

This is a true article lining out what this company is all about. It's sponsored because they want to reach people in the US who have a negative view on outsourcing to India and they are paying to reach that demographic. But I personally visited the facility, talked with the people, used the services, and took these images. Even though the post is sponsored doesn't mean the content is untrue.

mlittle's picture

You have way more patience then I do.

Spy Black's picture

I freelance at a place where they send stuff out to India for pathing. From what I see coming back, I suspect children and non-professsional adults working for a pittance who have been shown how to use a pen tool. I see the effects of what must be long hours when clearly laid out instructions are not carried out correctly.

I feel sorry for these people, who probably come from poor areas, desperate for work, being used for what is esssentially slave labor. Of course the services are relatively inexpensive so nobody cares as long as they get their work done for peanuts.

There are probably many talented artists working in India as well, and it's hard to say how well they are compensated for their talent.

However I'm pretty sure this will eventually shift all production overseas to any country that sets up cheap production studios like you see now see in India. Once India's services start getting expensive some other impoverished nation will be exploited.

So don't be surprised if the work you're doing now winds up getting outsourced to some foreign country.

Jason Vinson's picture

This view of outsourcing to India is the exact reason for this piece. Choosing an outsourcing company that does bad work has nothing to do with the location they are based. Just like someone hiring a bad photographer where you live doesn't make you a bad photographer.

Chris Cameron's picture

I think many are bent out of shape by the whole idea of outsourcing work to a country where quality of life, wages and cost of living are all well below those in the west, in order to get a cheaper product. We all fear it happening to us. I have been undercut by those that have an economic advantage over me (Trust fund kiddies and retirees) and it sucks so bad. Thankfully the sort of photography I do can't be outsourced to India or China or robots (yet)

Spy Black's picture

Well, your article title is "What Outsourcing to India Really Looks Like". Perhaps "What Outsourcing to ONE COMPANY in India Really Looks Like" would have been a more appropriate title. However you're missing the bigger picture, so don't be surprised if one day YOUR job gets outsourced, and do't think it can't happen.

James McDonald's picture

Why is everyone so bent out of shape that it is sponsored?

It is clearly marked and has been written by an author with 109 other articles to his name. No one seemed to care the last time a sponsored post was written about Pro Image Editors.

I have run a post production department which processed well over 20K images per year. Outsourcing saved my team a huge amount of time and money and we had a great working relationship with the team we were sending work too.

Reaching professional photographers is very challenging in a very saturated marketplace and you should be honoured that PIE thinks this community is good enough to spend their marketing dollars on.

Reading a sponsored write up for a company does nothing more than give you a reference point to start with next time you actually need these services. If you want to remain blissfully ignorant, just ignore the posts that are labelled as sponsored.

Chris Cameron's picture

Hi James, I think many are bent out of shape by the whole idea of outsourcing work to a country where quality of life, wages and cost of living are all well below those in the west, in order to get a cheaper product. If you're having work done by "Pro Image Editors" they're likely local and charge accordingly.
This article is advertising the sort of thing many push back against on principle and they are using the fact the article is sponsored as leverage for that argument.

James McDonald's picture

Well I see your point but to be honest, arguing the ethics of outsourcing work is a different issue than if a post should be able to be sponsored.

There are often posts on Fstoppers advertising discounts on products (for example https://fstoppers.com/deals/take-1200-macbook-pro-rare-apple-deal-today-...) and there is little to no discussion on the ethics behind the manufacturing methods and staff conditions (google: Foxconn). It is just photographers happily snapping up bargains.

I can whole heartedly get behind a discussion around business ethics as all businesses should be held to the highest social standards.

If, however, the argument is that an Indian company should not be allowed to pay to advertise their services in the same way that B and H does with their Apple products, all based on perceived lifestyle standards of workers then I think we are dangerously close to a double standard. The author visited the business. I would hope that his morals would have steered him to dump the article had he seen any wrong doing on their end.

Essentially the equation is simple. Users can pay subscription fees and never see another sponsored post or all businesses can be given fair access and allowed to advertise to their target market to keep the content free.

Przemek Lodej's picture

Let me shed some light on the whole outsourcing to India. I work for an American automaker and we outsource some work to India as many others do. I've stopped counting on how many occasions the management complained that the work was either late or screwed up so badly that our engineers had to redo work that was already paid for. Obviously I don't want to generalize, but I have heard many stories like that from other companies as well so there must be something to it.

Jay B's picture

I've discovered a way to clone myself. Problem solved.

Alex Qrea's picture

come on.. and indian company that promotes on a .eu (european union) is clearly a red flag here...

Usman Dawood's picture

Does that mean everyone in England should use .co.uk?

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