It’s that time of year! Make your whole life easier by streamlining your photography workflow, organizing your storage solutions and outfitting your work area with ergonomic furniture. We’re guessing your photography business workspace and workflow could use a bit of sprucing up.
Make your photography workspace comfy and neat.
Whether you have a studio, a home office or just a laptop at the kitchen table, organizing your photography space can go a long way in making you feel happy and calm in your photography business. We’ve got some ideas…
1. Invest in your own comfort.
Save yourself from the aches and pains associated with hours at the computer. Invest in an ergonomic chair, desk, and keyboard. Our best advice: Try before you buy. Every body is built a little differently, so what works for some may not work for others. If you want to (potentially) burn calories and get work done at the same time, check out an exercise ball in lieu of a chair. If you want to be at the forefront of office furniture innovation, invest in a walking desk.
2. Try a wall planner.
3. Spill-proof your space.
Sooner or later you (or your young assistant) will spill on your keyboard. Instead of forcing yourself to drink from a sippy cup, try a washable keyboard. The Logitech Washable Keyboard K310 lets you wash it and have it air dry! The key labels are laser printed and UV-coated so they won’t fade in the wash. Cool, right?
4. Get organized! Label your storage boxes.
Be smart about storage for your photography business. Label boxes clearly so you don’t have to go searching when you need something. Paper Source has great label and tag options; choose what suits your style and what complements your office décor.
5. Try an infusion water bottle or tumbler.
Combat dehydration to keep your mind as sharp as your photos with a fruit-infusion water bottle. Not only does the fruity flavor encourage you to drink more water, it looks pretty and adds a pop of color to your desk, too.
6. DIY a magnetic wall.
Here’s a super fun idea: Turn one of your office walls into a magnetic photo display or reminder board. Paint on a magnetic wall primer, like this one from Idea Paint, and then cover with regular latex paint to match your other walls. Just be sure and keep it more organized than the front of your fridge (and use caution with magnets if you allow your kiddos into your workspace). Bonus: Idea Paint also makes dry erase paint that can be used over the magnetic paint to create a magnetic white-board wall. How fun is that?!
Prettify your desk.
You’re sitting at your desk for hours at a time. Don’t you want to love your space? Find a few aesthetically-pleasing pieces to add color and style to your desk and you won’t mind all those hours spent editing photos.
7. Use Pinterest to create a cohesive design.
Pinterest is a great way to create a vision board or design a space. You can pin all the things you love to one board and then edit later. Plus, you’ll save the links so shopping is a snap when you decide on your final design.
Pssst. Are you on Pinterest? So are we! Come find us.
8. Find office supplies that are pretty and functional.
It’s just a fact that if your office supplies are pretty, you’ll use them more. We love the adorable vintage camera journal from the Click & Co. Store, these fun writing pads from Papyrus, and these super-cute expandable folders. Or, keep your desk even more organized by ordering all of your office supplies in one cohesive color! Check out the super-cute office supply bundles from Poppin.
9. Buy a pretty planner… and use it!
Go ahead and indulge yourself. You use your planner every single day. Check out the convenient digital planner from Colorvale, or try a simply beautiful notebook, like this one from Appointed. We’re also dying to try the Bullet Journal and its companion app.
10. Display your favorite things.
You know, the vintage camera collection, the tray of perfectly potted succulents, or the stack of your prized photo albums — own it! If you have a collection of items you just love, go ahead and show them off. It’s your space and that space should be filled with things you love.
Store your photography life in a way that makes sense.
Avoid those pack-rat tendencies and be smart about storage. Whether it’s your passwords or a lens cap, stop wasting time looking for stuff! Store your photos and photography stuff in a safe, organized way.
11. Backup your digital info.
Stop worrying about what would happen to your photos in the case of a disaster like a fire or flood. Sign up for an off-site cloud storage service like Code 42 or Backblaze and buy yourself peace of mind. Other cloud storage options include Amazon, Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox.
12. Use smart lens caps.
Stop searching for the lens you need. Use LensBling rear lens caps from Black Rapid with the focal length clearly labeled on the cap.
13. Store your photo gear in a ready-to-go case.
Keep your gear safe and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Store your gear in a Tamrac Big Wheels SpeedRoller 2x Rolling Photo/Laptop case when you are at home or the studio, and just zip it up and roll it out the door when it’s time to meet your next client.
14. Purge what you no longer need.
As the years go by, the pictures pile up. Remember to purge all photos except for the clear winners (after your client has placed her order, of course) to save both space and sanity. There really is no reason to save unedited files, outtakes, and mistakes. Get rid of them and your hard drive will thank you.
15. Categorize your cards
Are samples of cards and other press printed products taking over your office? Don’t go digging through a giant stack just to find the one card design you want to show your client. Store and categorize them with the Bigso Greeting Card Organizer.
16. Stop losing your passwords!
Be honest. how much time do you spend searching for lost or forgotten passwords? Break the habit and organize your passwords. If high-tech is your thing, try an app like LockBox or eWallet. If you prefer pretty paper, then go for the Open Sesame! Password Reminder Book from Bob’s Your Uncle.
Streamline your client communications.
Carefully and thoughtfully communicating with your photography business clients is a must. From the first inquiry to the point of sale and the final thank-you note, what you say and HOW you say it matters. But you don’t have time for answering the same question 200 times. Think it through once and streamline your time.
p.s. Don’t forget to send a client feedback survey! You might learn something that completely changes your business.
17. Think it through once and then copy, paste.
When a client sends you an email asking for more information on sessions, pricing, and availability, have text prepared you can copy and paste into your email response. Joyce Smith is the brain behind Wordsmith for Photographers. She offers a guide called What to Write that includes a handbook, 25 carefully worded emails, and a portrait agreement.
18. Collect and organize client info with online forms.
Don’t worry about lugging paper copies of your contract and model release to your sessions. Use MachForms or a robust customer relations management system to create forms that your clients can fill out and sign online. Or use simple Google Forms for surveys and data. You don’t have to deal with storing the paperwork, and it is an earth-friendly option (bonus!).
19. Manage client expectations by giving them all the info up front.
When your interactions with a client don’t go as well as you’d hope, not only does it cause you major stress but it also can distract you from other pressing tasks. You can save time, major headaches, and sleepless nights by clearly communicating with your client from the very beginning. Photographer Beira Brown starts by first ensuring her clients know and understand her photographic style. “It’s less painful to part ways with a client before a session takes place than to get to the ordering process and find out that my style of work is not really what they wanted or my prices are not what they are prepared to pay,” says Beira. “I want my clients to be clear on the entire process. The only surprise my clients should experience is seeing their gallery for the first time.”
20. Write a comprehensive set of FAQs.
Clients have a tendency to ask the same questions over and over. Prepare a client guide that answers all the routine questions that clients have. You can email them a PDF copy, or better yet, have a custom client site where they can log in and see everything they need to know. “I put together a welcome site because it is a great way to share information with potential clients,” says Alicia Gould, a newborn photographer based in New Jersey. “Instead of going back and forth over email answering questions, I can direct them to my online client area where they can read about what to expect, find guidance on what to wear, see my policies and investment guide, and even pay the session fee and sign the session agreement. My client site has been a huge time-saver. I wouldn’t want to do business without it.”
Build a marketing and social media strategy.
OK, we know this sounds like another thing that will take up your precious time, but trust us, a little strategy will save you from having to think through every little detail. Write out a marketing, social media and SEO strategy (including goals) and decide how blogging and social media fit into your plan. Then find the right times and tools to streamline your process.
21. Automate your social media posts.
Check out super handy tools like Planoly, Plann, Hootsuite, Later or Tailwind to organize and schedule your Instagram posts. Bonus points if your favorite offers analytics and marketing tools as well. Still blogging? Then use a WordPress plugin or Web service to share your blog posts automatically to your Facebook page and other sites like Twitter or Tumblr. Check out NextScripts, MailChimp Social, Networked Blogs, and Jetpack Publicize. Options like this save time and you don’t have to worry about forgetting to share a post.
22. Plan out your blog posts.
Courtney Slazinik, the driving force behind Click it Up a Notch, likes to make a master plan for her blog content. “At the beginning of each month, I sit down with an editorial calendar to plan out my blog content and how often I want to post to my site,” she says. The planners among us will want to make a schedule for social media content as well. “Write down the questions, sites, and sessions you want to share on your social media platforms so your presence will be consistent,” she says. Check out Courtney’s Ultimate Blog Planner for a convenient way to organize your schedule.
23. Build a referral program to save marketing time.
If you’re like a lot of photographers, marketing often gets pushed to the back burner while you deal with clients and sessions. Spend a little time up front developing an enticing and effective referral program, and let others do the marketing for you. Photographer Bethney Backhaus has built a successful referral program with a huge return. “After I complete a session with one of my clients, I order a handful of custom referral cards with some of my favorite images from their session on the back,” she says. “The front of the card explains how my referral program works. The cards offer $25 off my session fee. Once the original client has referred four clients to me they receive their next session completely free of charge. It’s a win for all of us! The cost and time to me is minimal, but the payback is huge.”
24. Write your blog posts all at once.
In the mood to blog? Take advantage of it and prepare several posts at once. Then schedule your posts for the days you want them to be published. It is super easy to do in WordPress. Photographer Melissa Stottmann takes it one step further and schedules her Facebook posts, too. “In an effort to make blogging and social media sharing consistent and simpler, I automate blog posts and Facebook sharing,” says Melissa. “Once a month I create, write, and schedule my blog posts, one per week, to appear on Wednesdays. Then I schedule my posts to appear on Facebook on Thursdays. It’s a simple and easy plan that I like sticking to!”
25. Don’t forget the thank-you note.
Whether it’s a heartfelt email or a printed card in the mail, thank-you notes are important for making your clients feel valued. There are tons of great stationary options out there, or buy branded cards from a printing company, like Moo.com.
Make photo sessions stress-free.
We’ve all been there. You’re supposed to be feeling inspired to create amazing images for your clients, but instead you’re feeling stressed and disorganized. Organizing beforehand can help you go in to your sessions feeling relaxed and creative.
26. Find the right bag for you.
If you like to shoot with a lot of primes and/or change lenses frequently, then a Shootsac Lens Bag can save you time. Keep your most-used lenses with you so you can quickly swap them out instead of walking back to your bag each time.
27. Keep track of locations with an app.
We’ve all stumbled upon great locations while out and about. We vow to remember them, but how often do you actually recall the details and exact location? You need an app for that. Try Rego or MapAPic to save the GPS coordinates and pictures of your new location finds. You can even save specific notes like “great paths for family sessions” to help jog your memory.
28. Try an all-in-one reflector.
Instead of carrying five different reflectors, carry one. With the Westcott 6-in-1 reflector kit, everything you need is contained in one neat package. It includes silver, sunlight, and gold, as well as two diffusion panels and a black panel.
29. Don’t forget about safety.
Smart photographers think about safety, especially when meeting new clients in potentially remote locations. Use an app like Life360 to share your location in real time with family members and trusted friends. You can “check in” when you arrive at a location to let your family know you’ve arrived at the session, and send a note when you’ve wrapped up.
30. Make a list of session supplies.
Keep a laminated list in your bag with your must-have gear and supplies for every session. When you are packing up, consult your list to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Find an editing workflow that works and stick to it.
You’ve taken the images, and now you’re feeling overwhelmed by the 350 raw files sitting on your memory card. You don’t have to do it all! Figure out a workflow that works for you and stick to it. This will allow your creativity to shine.
31. Don’t love editing? Outsource it!
Is editing not really your thing? If you aren’t great at it and really don’t love it, why not outsource? Don’t underestimate the value of your time and what it costs you to spend hours toiling away in Photoshop or Lightroom. Pay an outsourcing company to edit your photos and have peace of mind that it will get done in a timely manner and be up to your standards. Companies like Shoot Dot Edit, Lavalu, Vital Edit, and Colorati can help improve your efficiency and your mood.
32. Try a virtual assistant or studio management software.
If you need an organization intervention, then the Design Aglow Studio Workflow Assistant is for you. It is designed to help with virtually every aspect of running your photography business, including organizing client lists, decluttering your computer desktop, and providing you with sample client correspondence. Everything is fully editable so you can customize it to your own needs and business branding. We’re also loving the new client management software by Iris, which is designed to keep you organized and happy, and give your clients an amazing experience.
33. Edit for all your purposes at once.
Maui photographer Wendy Laurel likes to keep her editing and sharing workflow simple by prepping her photos for the web in advance. “When I edit a session, I also select and resize the images for social media even if I don’t plan on posting them for a while. That way when I do want to share, they’re ready to go.”
34. Use a super smart editing console.
The Loupedeck+ is a sweet editing console that makes image- and video-processing much more enjoyable. With buttons and dials that keep control at your fingertips, you can speed up your workflow and keep focused on creativity.
Sell like a boss by thinking it through in advance.
And now for the most important part of your photography business… yep, making money! We know you put your heart and soul into your photography, so don’t drop the ball when it comes time to sell. Find your favorite way to present your images to clients, and then make sure your products match your photographic style and business model.
35. Find the right proofing and selling gallery.
In-person sales may be a mainstay in the photography industry, but it’s okay if they aren’t the best option for your photography business or your family. “Online proofing makes my life so much easier,” says Lisa Tichané of Tout Petit Pixel. “I tried to offer in-person ordering, but my clients were mostly available during the evenings or on weekends. So I decided letting my clients discover their images at the most convenient time for them, on their own, was a huge benefit for me and for them. We always schedule a phone consult after they have viewed their images, to make sure they receive appropriate advice and help (and I love hearing their feedback, too!). I use Flaunt from Into the Darkroom to integrate the online proofing gallery to my website. It’s easy to use, customizable and seamless. I can add a password, set an expiring date, watermark my images automatically… all in a few seconds. Such a time saver!”
36. Sell only your favorite products.
Instead of offering every product under the sun, pick your favorites and sell those. Your life will be easier with fewer offerings and your clients will feel less overwhelmed. In addition, selling products you truly love will be easier for those of us who are not natural salespeople.
37. Find a great bag to transport your studio samples.
Invest in one great bag that can carry your product samples safely to in-person ordering sessions. Check out the options at Adorama.
38. Simplify your albums.
If you love spending time on custom design and you’re good at it as well, then stick with it! Let that service help define your business. If you don’t love it, that’s OK, too. You can simplify your book and album offerings. Photographer and designer Rachel Nielsen is based in Utah and sells an album or book with almost every wedding she shoots. “I’ve tried them all,” says Rachel, “and each company offers something a little bit different. I do custom design a lot of books, but sometimes it’s nice just to go with a simple option that requires minimal time.” Check out Rachel’s favorite vendors for creating simple and beautiful books:
- KISS: “Using the KISSystem to auto-build your design is one of my top choices because of all the little extras included. You can create layouts to print through KISS or another lab, add music to client previews, and link to an off-site slideshow.”
- Miller’s Photo Lab: “Miller’s is one of my favorite options. Not only do they have design elements I haven’t seen elsewhere, they have a fantastic selection of templates. They also offer free overnight shipping.”
- Blurb: “Blurb is fantastic for creating books with lots of pages. My favorite feature is being able to create books automatically from your Facebook or Instagram photos.”
- Moleskine/MilkBooks: “Moleskine Photo Books are very easy to design. They auto-fill the pages for you, but you can customize them if needed. You can share a digital PDF of your album and even embed a video for the online version of your album.”
- Artisan State: “Beyond just a great price, these books offer a free design service (with free revisions too). Plus their albums are perfect for little hands because they’re stain-free.”
- Loktah: “Their textures, colors, and eco-friendly options are gorgeous. It is also really easy to brand your order.”
Package your photo products the same every time.
Whew, you’ve taken the photos, edited the session and made the sale. Almost done! Now you need to wow your client with some awesome packaging. We know the real appeal is your photos, but a pretty package is a little cherry on top.
39. Set up a photo packaging station.
Make packaging orders simple and quick by setting up a streamlined packaging station. The Bedford Project Table from Pottery Barn is a perfect solution — store supplies on the built-in shelves on the sides and package orders on top.
40. Save yourself time by ordering big.
Once you’ve decided on the right packaging for your photography business, and know you’ll stick with it for a while, order a lot! That way you don’t have to go back and reorder every couple of weeks. Plus, sometimes you can score an awesome volume discount. Packaging vendors who give large-quantity discounts include Rice Studio Supply, Loktah, and H-B Photo.
41. Find the photography packaging that suits you and stick with it.
Having a cohesive style is just good business. You want to create a recognizable brand, not only through your photography, but in all of your photography business communication. This includes your packaging! What a client sees when they open their order says a lot about your photography business. You don’t have to go over the top with accessories, knickknacks, and tchotchkes. Keep it simple, save time, and let your photos do the talking. Artsy Couture offers custom presentation boxes with filler and ribbon included.
Get your photography orders out the door faster.
Almost done! You’ve come so far, my friend, and now it’s time to ship those pretty little products out the door. Find a process that works for you so you can repeat it every time. This takes the guesswork out of delivery and let’s you relax a little sooner.
42. Save yourself time by drop shipping to your client.
Send a client’s print order to your lab and let them do the rest. If you are completely confident that your prints match your monitor, then drop-shipping may be a great option. Some labs also offer boutique packaging for a reasonable rate to give your orders a professional polish without you having to do any of the work yourself.
43. Use online fulfillment with your favorite lab.
You can save lots of time by letting your client order her own prints, products, or digital files through an online proofing and fulfillment service like Shootproof. With Shootproof, you can create galleries and then sell online after you define your own product offerings and prices. Shootproof also provides digital download fulfillment and printing for client orders through the photographer’s choice of integrated pro labs or an outside lab. It’s a simple, efficient, and time-saving approach that many photographers prefer.
44. Ship smarter.
Need a simpler way to ship? With Click-N-Ship from the United States Postal Service you can do it all from the comfort of your home. Order free priority mail envelopes and boxes online, then pay for postage, print a label, and schedule a home pick up. Voilà! You just saved yourself drive time and those dreaded post office lines.
45. Have set hours for order pickup.
Does having clients dropping by your studio to pick up orders at all hours of the day disrupt your productivity and interrupt your sessions in progress? Have set hours for order pick up (perhaps when you are working on editing and other routine tasks). When your clients arrive for pick up you can give them your full attention, making that last impression a very positive one.
Create a camera closet
Living in warm and sunny Southern California, my photography gear collection is larger than our family’s coat collection. Rather than let that closet space go unused, I decided to claim it as a home for my equipment. Here’s how:
- Remove the coat bar.
- Add some shelves.
- Use spice racks from Ikea as lens racks (can fit some camera bodies).
I love having this safe and organized storage solution for my gear!
— Allison Zercher
Now that you’ve saved all that time by organizing, you actually have time to have a life outside of your photography business! Yay! We couldn’t be happier for you and we hope you’ll send us a picture of your new and improved space. We can’t wait to hear YOUR best photography business organizational tips. Please share in the comments!
Get more organized!
Wheeeew, that was a lot, right?! We’re pretty passionate about helping you simplify, organize and get comfy so you can focus on what really matters: your art! Here are a few more articles to help you spruce up your space so you can get clicking.