When I first became a photographer, I quickly realized just.how.much went into running a photography business that wasn’t actually taking the photos…
There was culling, accounting, blogging, social mediaing, contract printing, and more.
It was exhausting.
In fact, when I first met with our financial planners and they asked me to break down the percentage of the type of work I do, shooting was one of the lowest percentages on the list.
Pretty crazy to think of, right?
Want to guess the highest?
I bet you’re not surprised.
I mean, especially because I am a marketer at heart, marketing was a top priority for me.
Culling/editing was a necessity as a photographer.
And admin… well… that’s what it takes as a solopreneur.
When I started realizing this, I knew quickly I needed to find some tools that would be a gamechanger for my time management & business. Otherwise, I was going to make myself crazy trying to do things way harder than necessary.
I tried a lot of tools & programs, apps & hacks… but there are a few that remain tried & true and key in my business.
If you’re a photographer, this one will come as no surprise… but I’m always shocked how many other creatives (and random people) don’t realize… I very, very rarely use Photoshop for actual editing. The best thing about Lightroom is being able to batch process lots of images at once. After shooting properly in camera (to learn how, I highly recommend Laura Foote’s Shoot in Manual class!), I am able to edit one image in a sequence and then highlight the rest of that sequence & click “Sync” in the bottom right corner to sync all the settings. I can’t tell you how many new photographers I’ve shown that button to and how it’s legit blown their minds. Yes, I tweak and edit each individual photo from there as needed, but the Sync button gives me an awesome baseline to start with!
I also use Lightroom to export the Edited RAW images (export as Original!) so I can save the edits to my computer without keeping every folder/image in my Lightroom catalog. With that being said, if you’re a creative entrepreneur looking to edit your photos better, get Lightroom & choose yourself a preset! I use a custom tweaked preset to my preferences based on a VSCO preset! Other amazing option? Brittley Presets from the amazing Jordan Brittley!
If I could pick one thing in my business to never have to do again (aside from accounting… but PRAISE JESUS for my accountant!), it would be culling. To me, it’s crazy tedious and a means to an end… of curating a beautiful gallery to edit! If you’re not a photographer, culling is the process by which we sort through every image we shot to choose the best images to keep for editing & delivery. My favorite way to cull? Chatting on the phone with a friend… because it just helps make culling go faster/pass the time.
However, PhotoMechanic has made the culling process at least bearable. With PM, the image populates in full clarity immediately without the lag time of Lightroom. And honestly, before I tried it, I didn’t really think Lightroom was that slow. However, now I realize just how much time collectively I am saving by culling in PM instead of Lightroom! Tiny little lag time adds up quickly when you’re culling thousands of images per wedding! My recommendation? Create your own ranking system to choose your favorite images (instead of choosing which ones you WON’T keep!). It saves you extra rounds of culling, while also subconsciously making you feel better about your work choosing what you LOVE instead of hate!
If you have a blog at all, then you need this. At one point I was creating collages in Photoshop. I was spending way too many hours trying to make my blog look pretty and tell the story in the best way possible. I thought: “There MUST be a better way.” Spoiler alert. There was. Insert BlogStomp: literally the best $50 (one-time!) I spent for my blogging life, hands down. It makes those pretty little collages in my blogs and allows me to curate which images are paired next to each other. Plus, it can crunch the width/pixel size to whatever I need it to be (making submissions for publication even easier!). Example:
My secret weapon for album design! It allows me to design custom albums for my wedding clients without the hassle of creating individual layouts in something like InDesign or PhotoShop. It’s a drag & drop platform, meaning you don’t actually need any design skills to make it work. Plus, they have the settings pre-plugged in for many of the professional album printing companies, allowing me to export the files exactly as needed to submit for print. It streamlines my process & ensures that every album is custom designed for my clients in a way that represents THEIR story best!
As a photographer who shoots all over the Southeast… I have put many a mile on my car over the years. And I never used to remember to track my mileage. In fact, I probably have missed out on zillions of dollars just by not tracking the little trips to the post office or to the bank. When I finally discovered this handy app – and realized I didn’t even have to turn it on and off manually because automatically begins tracking the mileage once the car starts moving – I was sold. At the end of each week, I simply swipe right or left to log as a business or personal drive, and export the PDF of all the mileage at the end of the year for my accountant. Easy peasy.
And speaking of how many miles I missed while driving to the post office & bank, I actually hardly ever go to either of those places anymore due to the ease of my next tool for you: HoneyBook!
Full disclosure, HoneyBook & Rising Tide Society are one of my communications clients, so of course I’m a tad bit biased, but I began using HoneyBook before I ever joined their team, and would vouch for them any day of the week regardless of my relationship with this amazing tool and company! If you’re looking for a workflow tool that manages all of your customer relationships & takes your business to the next level, look no further.
I can’t recommend their system, customer service, and dedication to the creative industry enough. I use HoneyBook to manage all contracts, invoicing, automate my conversations with clients, and connect with creatives all in one. Plus, HoneyBook is the organization that makes the Rising Tide Society possible and all of the TuesdaysTogether meetings free for all creatives, so I’m extra grateful for how amazing they are across the board.
If you’re interested in getting a free trial & using the tool, you can click here to get 50% off your subscription for the first year, which is pretty darn good if you ask me! And now is seriously the perfect time to get your workflows in place during “off season.”
Back in the day I sent people CDs. Yep, you read that right. I legit saved the photos to a CD and delivered galleries in the mail. But now we’re in a digital age where grandma wants to see the photos too, so I needed something beautiful AND user-friendly to delivery my online galleries. I also am a firm believer in a quick wedding photo turnaround time (aka, never have delivered a wedding more than 1 week after the wedding date!), so needed something that would allow me to upload & share client photo galleries efficiently & effectively! I love that Pixieset allows me to password protect the galleries, send a direct link, and also access every gallery directly from my phone for each social sharing (because it pulls up as a normal URL!).
You can see an example of a gallery below… and how I sort the images by Highlights first, and then by each portion of the day. This makes it really easy for my clients to see the full story to start, and then to find each individual section of the day with more images!
As a photographer, Instagram is one of my best & most utilized marketing tools! After every photoshoot I drag & drop my top favorite photos from the shoot into my Planoly feed for future use. While I may not actually SCHEDULE my content in advance (I like to post a bit more real time with my captions!), I have the photos ready to rock & roll when I need them. I also love that I can easily keep up with comments through Planoly, allowing me to engage with my people instead of just putting out content with no conversation beyond that. Planoly helps me make sure my feed is consistent & flows well, and also easily syncs to my phone so I can share on the go!
So there you have it, friend – these 9 photography business tools are ones I couldn’t live (or run my photography business!) without! Photographers out there, any business tools you swear by? Comment below & I’d love to hear your tips & tricks that make your photography business run without a hitch!
As a note: some of these links are affiliate links that help me create more amazing content like this just for you! However, I 100% believe everything you’ve read here, and think you just need to know about these tools in general, affiliate links aside! 😉