Grand Rapids photo editing firm grows business locally and globally

Many small businesses do not readily embrace globalization. In fact, some see globalization as a threat to their efforts. But Chris Palmer views it much differently. "PhotoUp is prime example of how globalization can have a real positive impact. It's globalization done the right way," he says.

Palmer is the CEO of PhotoUp, a web platform that brings together real estate photographers with professional photo editors. It was founded by Kristian Pettyjohn in 2012, with Palmer joining soon afterwards.

The firm's value proposition is two pronged: PhotoUp helps real estate photographers be more productive and efficient with their time, and it helps photo editors in emerging markets stay in their native country, earn a fair wage and continue their education.

From the perspective of a photographer, Palmer outlines the business dilemma: "A real estate photographer I talked to could not do (photograph and edit) more than four homes a day. He was stuck, tapped out at three to four homes a day. How do you grow your business that way?"

By using his firm's services, Palmer says a photographer can grow his or her business significantly by having someone else handling the editing, often times overnight.

Second, PhotoUp utilizes a team of professional creatives in the Philippines. Palmer describes his team of "Photoshop wizards" as being "high capacity, very creative, computer savvy." He says many of the employees in the Philippines are students and are paid market wages and take advantage of PhotoUp's employee benefit programs that provide resources to help build stronger communities and funding for ongoing education and training.

The decision to use the Philippines for a home base was partly the result of Palmer's direct experience of living and working in the country and his interest in using business as a tool for social enterprise. "Many students and professionals I met could not find good jobs in the Philippines but wanted to stay," says Palmer. He says many of these creative and talented individuals had to leave the country to find work, often in other industries not related to their career interests.

The PhotoUp team reflects its global mission. There are 20 employees in the Philippines, two in Grand Rapids (the company's headquarters) and two in other parts of the U.S. 

Confident that the demand for for higher quality, digital real estate photography will grow, Palmer says he anticipates hiring sales and customer service help in the summer of 2014.

To learn more about PhotoUp you can visit their site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

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