Efficient Photography Workflow: 4 Ways To Get Your Life Back

It’s almost midnight.
Thank goodness.
Just a few more tasks to wrap up and you can climb into your soft, cozy…
Shoot.
Your sheets are still sopping wet in the washing machine.
And you’re only halfway through a 1300-image edit.
And you have 73 unread emails in your inbox.
And you haven’t posted a new Instagram photo in… 2 weeks?
And you have a pile of invoices to process and a couple of checks to cash and a stack of bills to pay and…
SOMEBODY MAKE IT STOP!
Oh, well. Who needs sleep?

Trust us: you do.

And the only way you’re going to get sleep – or get free time, or you time, or family time, or (heaven forbid!) a shower – is if you get help.

“But I can’t afford help!” you may think. Maybe you’re thinking Help = Full-Time Employee. You’re thinking Help = $$$$$. It doesn’t have to!

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Photo by Taryn Grey

Here are our suggestions for HELP with the tasks that most absorb a photographer’s time – time you could invest into making more photographs, establishing new connections, and strengthening your brand.


Outsource Your Post-Production

Though it’s the scariest of all outsourcing options, post-production is a greedy, time-devouring beast that must be tamed lest it consume your every waking minute. (Rawr.)

On average, photographers invest 1-2 hours into post-production for every 1 hour spent actively shooting. That’s as many as 16 hours of dumping, culling, toning, retouching, exporting, and uploading after an 8-hour wedding shoot, and 3 hours of added work after a 1.5-hour portrait session.

Time spent editing is time NOT spent:

  • Executing an inspiring new personal project that will enhance your portfolio and attract new clients
  • Taking a vendor or colleague out for coffee and cultivating beneficial networking relationships
  • Developing a big marketing push to reward your loyal fans and find new followers
  • Eating lunch and brushing your hair like a normal person

Thankfully, there are a plethora of fantastic post-production companies who can tackle even your toughest editing job. Here are some of our favorites:

Hadley’s Photo Edits (An Atlanta local, y’all!)
ShootDotEdit
Foto Fafa
Rebooku
Photographer’s Edit
The Image Salon
Freedom Edits
My Lavalu
RDF Lab

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Photo by Taryn Grey

With so many to choose from, how do you know who’s right for you? Here’s what to ask:

  • What is the company’s policy on changes and re-dos if you aren’t happy?
  • Will the company work with any filters or presets you already have in place?
  • How does the company ensure consistency from job to job?
  • Does the company specialize in your genre of photography? (E.g., weddings, schools, families, etc.)

Lastly, search for online reviews, and see how photographers like you enjoy working with this company. What satisfies a senior portrait photographer may not be the right fit for a wedding photographer.


Make Emailing Easy

Email is invaluable for its convenience and speed, but nightmarish in its ability to seemingly reproduce in the span of only a few seconds. (Even rabbits aren’t that good!)

While you can’t eliminate email altogether (and wouldn’t want to!), you can reduce the amount of time it requires with 3 simple tricks.

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Photo by Taryn Grey

The Kawasaki Rule

Originally evangelized by entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki, the Kawasaki Rule dictates that no email should be longer than 5 sentences. Any more, and you lose your audience and waste time. Give it a try. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish in 5 sentences or fewer. (Like this paragraph!)

The Signature Shortcut

Using Mail for Mac? Convert your drop-down Signatures into email templates!

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If you’re using Mail as your email client, you probably already know how to customize your email signature through Preferences > Signatures. What you may not know is this:

You can use the Signature panel to store pre-written email templates! When you receive an inquiry from a potential client, for example, simply select your pre-made “Inquiry” template from the Signature drop-down box, and voila! Email written! For the finishing touches, fill in the client’s name, customize a subject, and you’re done.

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Photo by Taryn Grey

If you’re using a different email client without the option for multiple signatures, pre-made templates can be saved in a document for quick copying-and-pasting into your email. Email templates are great for:

  • Inquiry Responses. Select your preferred template, then customize a short, personalized greeting and closing.
  • Photographer Referrals. Already booked? Your “Booked” template can connect prospective clients with other photographers who may be available.
  • Vendor Referrals. Connect your clients to your favorite vendors, favorite shoot locations, favorite boutiques for buying outfits for a session… whatever makes your client feel valued!

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Photo by Taryn Grey

Text Expander ($40/year)

If emailing is your LIFE, you might want to invest in Text Expander, a clever productivity tool that allows you to insert often-used phrases and paragraphs with only a couple of keystrokes. (The ShootProof team couldn’t survive without Text Expander!) Use it for emails, social media posts, package customizations, and more.


Alleviate Your Accounting Woes

Nothing ruins a perfectly good New Year’s Eve like waking up on January 1st and realizing you have to catch up on the previous year’s bookkeeping.

ALL. OF. IT.

Ugh.

Thankfully, there’s help!

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Photo by Taryn Grey

QuickBooks ($15/month)

If you still have time for some level of DIY, a simple subscription to QuickBooks will do the trick. Many accountants recommend QuickBooks Online for daily bookkeeping and end-of-year report generating. The phone app makes it simple to keep up with day-to-day transactions, and at tax time, you can give your tax pro access to your QuickBooks file with a custom Accountant’s Login.

Xero ($9/month)

Looking for a QuickBooks alternative? Check out Xero, a cheaper – and some say simpler – bookkeeping solution! Scaleable for brand-new businesses with a smaller budget, Xero is also equipped to manage your books once you’re running full-steam and need all the features! From accountant logins to payroll to reports, you won’t miss a beat!

MileIQ (FREE or $5.99/month)

Dig that flimsy mileage logbook out from the floorboard of your car (you know – the one you haven’t opened in 6 months?) and toss it! It’s time to sign up for MileIQ! This simple app conveniently tracks your trips as you drive, then prompts you to swipe left or right to designate each drive as “business” or “personal”. You can even denote the purpose of each trip! Pretty swell, right? 

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Photo by Taryn Grey

Bench ($135/month)

If keeping up with daily bookkeeping isn’t for you – like, EVER – check out Bench, a fab resource for outsourcing ALL of your income and expense-tracking. 
Perks: Everything is handled digitally – and their team is super-friendly!
Remember: Bench is JUST a bookkeeping service. You’ll still need to hire someone to file your taxes – though Bench can help connect you with a CPA.

Hire An Accountant

We mean it. Right now. Send a few emails. Schedule a few meetings. Find someone who makes you feel comfortable and confident and capable. A good tax professional should be able to explain tax procedures to you in a way that you understand, and guide you into good tax habits. (And no – a shady accountant is NOT a good accountant!) When you interview a tax professional:

  • Be honest about your numbers. Your tax pro can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re working with.
  • Ask for a quote. Know up front what the accountant’s fees will be for filing both your personal and business taxes. Rates vary vastly. One firm may charge $1000 for the same job that only costs $350 at another firm. This does not necessarily mean one is better than the other. Remember: accountants are business people just like you, and their rates are based on a variety of factors.
  • Find out if the accountant is prepared to guide you throughout the year. Should you be making estimated tax payments? Will the accountant remind you of those due dates and prepare your tax forms? Make sure you have someone who will work to help you thrive!

Get Social Media Savvy

You know you need social media for marketing, for community, for connection. But how do you keep up with it? If your current social media efforts look like a cat clinging to a ceiling fan, it’s time to outsource.

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Photo by Taryn Grey

Sure, you can hire a college student (or your own toddler) to type words and choose pictures; but you are the voice of your brand. You just need a little boost:

  • Plan your social media content in advance. Yep. That’s right. Don’t wake up in the morning and haphazardly post a photo to Instagram. Determine your photos, links, and text a full 2 weeks prior to the publish date, and you’ll save both time and stress!
  • Schedule your social media content to go live automatically. Tools like Buffer, Schedugram, and Facebook’s own scheduler do the work for you.

 

Buffer (FREE or $10/month)

Buffer offers everything you need to keep your social media calendar fully loaded! Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all integrate with Buffer (as well as LinkedIn and Google+), allowing you to schedule Tweets, status updates, and photos far in advance of your desired post date. If you want a one-stop shop for ALL your social media content, Buffer is the place to be!
Bonus: Buffer produces a pretty swell podcast – perfect for those long car rides you’re tracking with MileIQ.
The Downside: Facebook tends to grant less organic reach to posts scheduled through third-party apps like Buffer, and Instagram posts won’t go live direct from Buffer; instead, you’ll receive a notification when it’s time to hit “Share.”

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Photo by Taryn Grey

Schedugram ($20/month)

Let Schedugram keep your Instagram content alive while you sip fruity drinks on the beach! Schedugram is the perfect companion for the busy photographer who doesn’t want to be tied to their phone. Go about your day, and your photos will share on time, every time! With multiple views available, Schedugram makes it easy to preview the way your future Instagram feed will look. Schedugram also includes a brilliant “first comment” feature, promoting impactful hashtagging.


💙 Follow ShootProof on Instagram! 💙


Facebook (FREE)

Facebook has a pretty swell built-in content scheduler – no third-party app needed!

  • Log in to your Business Page > Publishing Tools > Scheduled Posts > Create

Create as many posts as you like, complete with photos and links, and schedule them as far in advance as necessary.
Bonus: Scheduling posts natively through Facebook increases your organic reach!


Shake It Off

It’s time to wash your hands of the things that are weighing you down.
You don’t have to do it ALL.
You don’t have to be the only one.
It’s okay to ask for help. It’s even okay to pay for help!

And it’s REALLY okay to adopt new approaches that will streamline your workflow, enhance your efficiency, and free you up to focus on what matters most.

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Photo by Taryn Grey


Join ShootProof, and we’ll streamline your online galleries, print sales, bookings, and invoicing, too!


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