I just finished my busiest holiday season, and with that came the need to keep things organized. With how busy things are, it’s easy to get lost with keeping everything organized. The key is to start with keeping things organized right from the very start. It’s always the hardest going back to the beginning and retracing steps so it’s best to just get it out of the way, and have a flow. It starts with the very first inquiry email.

Whenever I get inquiry emails, I always try ask if I can meet the clients in person. I like it this way because we get to meet in person prior to the shoot, and during client consults, I get a lot of things out of the way like contract signing, session deposits, and also get to talk about what kind of session they’re looking for.

I first started out with paper contracts, and I still do use them for some sessions, but for the majority of my sessions, I use my iPad. I have found it easier though to use an app on my iPad to do contracts. I use Photographer Contract maker, and it’s only $2.99 at the app store. It has great features where it saves all my contracts, the client can sign on the ipad, I can plug in information like session information. I also like how when I input client contact information, it automatically saves all information on my iPad’s contact database, and by syncing it with the cloud, I get all the same information on my iPhone, and iMac. The best part about this contract is that I am able to email the contract to my client so they’re able to keep the same copy that I get to keep also.

photographer contract app

iPad app for clients to sign photography contract

I print out the contract that’s emailed to me by my client, and I place it in a folder with their name on it. My friend Missy B photography gave me this tip, so I thank her for keeping my office a lot more organized. I place a checklist right outside the folder so I can keep track on how much progress I’ve done with the particular client’s session. I go back to it per step just to make sure that I know exactly where I’m at and that I’m not forgetting anything. I bought one on Etsy, or of course, you can make your own. I like this one in particular from SpikeandPippa. It’s an 8-piece form, which is completely customizable for your needs. It also has a client information form so I’m able to note down during the consult what kind of session we’re doing, and the names of everyone I’m photographing, and any other special notes.

photography checklist

I really take advantage of iCloud. I use the calendar to sync my schedule between all of my devices, but I also am old school so I still keep a white board calendar to make sure that just in case technology gets the best of me, I have everything still.

I tell my clients that I will send them a confirmation email a couple days before their session, so I just email them and confirm with them everything that we discussed. I refer to the client information form to make sure that I have all the information correct. I go back to my checklist also to make sure that everything is on the right track.

Once I do their session, I upload the photos out of my memory cards right away. I’m semi-paranoid that my card might get corrupt, or I may lose it. I have my desktop organized to several categories: needs to be edited, waiting for order, need to send in order, transfer to external hard drive, miscellaneous, and documents. I put the name of the session for the folder, and the date when it is due for turnover. I used to save my pictures in the pictures folder, but I’ve just found it much easier when I put it at the desktop. I see right away what I’m working on, and I put them in order. It makes it less confusing for me to keep up on what’s next on the editing dock. Also, right after their session is when I plug-in at excel all the fees collected, mileage, taxes charged, and any other extra expenses spent on the day of the session.

desktop organization for photographers

I open up all my images in Bridge. I like it a lot and it makes it easier for me to organize things. When I upload my pictures, I keep a subfolder and title it RAW to indicate that this is where I want my RAW images to land. In Bridge, I rate the photos that I want to keep with 5 stars. I click on show filter, and then I have all 5 star rated photos show. I move them then to a new subfolder called Final Raw.  From there, I edit first in ACR, then Photoshop. I save my edited photos in another subfolder titled PSD so I know that is where my master edits land. Once I am done with them, I batch rename all my PSD files in bridge to make sure that all their numbers are in order. This makes it easier for me once the orders come in.

organizing photos in Bridge

I then batch convert all my PSD images to JPEG, these are now what I upload to my gallery. I use Zenfolio, and my clients are able to buy their images from there.  There are other services out there that do the same gallery ordering system. Once I get the order in, Zenfolio shows me exactly what the file numbers are, a tiny thumbnail of the image ordered, and this is where naming them in order comes in handy; it makes it easier for me to find the files that my clients want. I do make a printout of the order itself because it makes it easier for me to keep track on what photos were ordered.  When I pull up the images for ordering, I don’t save them in the same PSD folder, I have a new folder now called Print Orders that I also leave on my desktop. Also, I do use PSD files when I order prints, and not the JPEG files. I save the images ordered for prints in the Print Orders folder as jpeg so that I do not contaminate the master files. I would hate to save an image that I just cropped 5×7 in the PSD or JPEG folder, especially since I leave my edited files in the native 2:3 ratios.

organizing photos on computer

Once the orders come in, I refer to the print out that I made of the orders sent to double check that I received the same ones that I sent in. I have my packaging items organized in a little cabinet in my office. I have everything in there, and I just pull everything out when I’m packaging my products. Once my clients receive, I go back to the checklist again and make sure I have done all of the important items on the list. I then place the client’s folder in my client file organizer, which is organized into categories: Sessions booked, Sessions done, and grow with me babies for my baby planners.

photographers packaging station

This particular workflow works for my portraiture business. It took me a couple years, and a lot of unorganized months before I realize that I needed to have a proper system to keep my sanity. It also makes it easier for me at the end of the year because I can pull up all the numbers that I need. I hope this helps with keeping your workflow organized as well!