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How to Create a Steady & Quick Workflow

Creating a Faster Post-Wedding Photography WorkflowLet’s talk photography today, shall we friends? :)

When I first started photography I followed a lot of photographers. I don’t even know how I found them, but I did. I followed their blogs, studied their techniques, yearned to attend their pricey workshops that took place on opposite ends of the country, and let’s be honest, I wanted to be them. They had it all! A ton of followers, wedding after wedding after wedding, gorgeous offices, flawless photos, and an amazing, yet intense, work system. What some people don’t realize is that not only are we photographers, we are first and foremost business owners. We have hard workdays (although we have the convenient luxury of working from home, even though it’s not all rainbows & butterflies – perhaps another blog post will be about that), we have to make sure we have flawless financial systems (tax season is no joke for us), a well-organized filing system for all those receipts, mileage tracking, contracts, and other random papers that somehow we still need (you learn to not throw away anything when it’s your own business), and of course we have to create an enjoyable, high-quality experience with our clients. For me, that means a lot of things, but today I’m just going to focus on my post-wedding workflow.

One of the main things that caught my eye when reading a particular wedding photographer’s blog, was her workflow. She, somehow, managed to always finish weddings within days. She’d shoot a wedding on Saturday and it would be finished (very beautifully) by the following Friday. And I remember reading her blog post about her workflow basically saying that if a photographer works full-time as a photographer, there is no reason they can’t produce beautiful wedding photos within a week of someone’s wedding. And, being a newbie at all of this thought, “Well alright! One week it is!” And it’s been my motto ever since.

*Before I go on, as I’ve stated before, if you’re a photographer and this is not your full-time job or if you are a stay-at-home mom or dad, I totally get how crazy it would be to finish a wedding within a week. But if you’re strictly a full-time photographer and you’re sick of working on a wedding for weeks, sometimes months at a time, try some of these tips and see if they help you create a quicker workflow. Just to be clear though, these are things that work for me; not one style of editing works for every photographer, just like not one workflow system works for every photographer. Do what works best for you. :)

10 TIPS FOR CREATING A QUICKER WORKFLOW

1. Use keyboard shortcuts when working in an editing program. I know this doesn’t sound like a profound thing, but trust me. Instead of using your mouse for everything, try learning the keyboard shortcuts. Even if it’s just saving you 30 seconds/photo, that adds up in the end.

2. Master your white balance in camera. This can be pretty hard to do – I know I still struggle with it some days. But, if you can learn how to control your white balance in camera it will make editing an absolute breeeeeeze. I just started shooting in Kelvin and I absolutely love it. Here are some articles (here & here) that might be helpful (don’t forget about trusty Youtube :)).

3. Invest in a fast, reliable computer. Seriously friends, my new computer was an absolute game changer. It literally cut off 2 days from my already 5-day workflow (and you can read about it here.)

4. Batch editing. Once you have a consistent editing process you can begin to batch edit your photos. What does batch edit mean? It means you can apply the same editing process to a bunch of photos at one time. I have a few things I do when I edit so I made parts of my editing process into Photoshop actions and then I just apply them to multiple photos at one time. I then go through them all to make sure each photo looks good, and then I move on to the next step. Easy peezy.

5. Nail your exposure in camera. Again, this isn’t always easy but it saves you a lot of time. If you find yourself always relying on Photoshop or Lightroom to fix your exposure problems, it might mean you need to practice shooting more at different times of the day, especially if you’re a wedding photographer. We have to deal with all different types of lighting throughout any given wedding day so it is a HUGE help when you know how to meter your exposure in camera. It will save you so much time!!

6. Stay away from social media and your inbox. Oh my, this is always so hard for me. I’ll admit it, I’m somewhat addicted to social media – especially Pinterest. But when it’s time to edit photos, I need to stay away from it all. It’s so easy to get on Pinterest or Facebook and then lose an embarrassing amount of time that could have been spent getting work done. Put your phone in the other room, put on music or a movie that helps you concentrate, and just plug away. The good thing about editing and going through photos is that the workday goes by so incredibly fast. Half the time I forget to eat lunch.

7. Trial & Error. I used to use just a generic photo viewer when going through my photos. It took a long time but I didn’t know any better back then. Then I read an article about what another photographer did; she used Lightroom and it sounded like it was such a great tool to use when culling photos. So, I tried it and I’m hooked. I’m sure there are better programs out there but for now, Lightroom works for me. Do some research, read reviews, and try things out. Don’t be afraid to change your workflow if you’re unhappy with it.

8. Don’t make plans!! It used to be so hard for me to say “no” to people when they asked to meet for lunch, or to visit, etc. I work from home! I should be able to maneuver my schedule! No way. You work just as much as other people do and you cannot just call in because you work from home. I even used to schedule other sessions during the week after a wedding because I felt bad saying no (to people and to money). Block off the days following a wedding and just work your butt off. No visits from friends, no lunch dates, no doctor appointments – it’s just like you’re working at an office (except in your pjs).

9. Back-up your photos RIGHT AWAY. Don’t wait a week to backup your photos. Do it as soon as you get home from the wedding/session so you can start on them right away. After these past two weddings I started working on Sunday as soon as I woke up. Photos were already backed up because I did so on Saturday night (right after the wedding), leaving my entire Sunday open. Yes, I understand it’s the weekend and you clearly don’t have to sacrifice your Sundays, but to me that just means I get Thursday & Friday off. I can’t complain. :)

10. Practice time-management. Before I really started time-managing myself, I used to work well after 8pm on weekdays every day of the week. It was horrible. I felt incredibly strained, my mood was unpleasant, and to be honest, I hated work. I wasn’t excited to see the photos I worked hard to take. I wasn’t excited to send off a beautiful gallery to my brides and grooms. Everything seemed awful. Well, who can blame me?! If I wasn’t time-managing myself during work hours, my workday would extend into the night leaving me zero time away from my office and work. I needed to create a schedule – when would I wake up, when would I eat lunch (if I remembered), when would I check emails, when would I peruse social media (limits are our friends :)), when would I get off work, etc. You need to see yourself as a business owner and take care of yourself as well as your work. Create a schedule and stick to it.

The best thing about this job is we’re not expected to know everything. Having a community of photographers is so helpful, which is why I want to continue to do posts like this every now and then. So, if you have any helpful tips on your post-wedding/session workflow, feel free to jump on in! Or, if this was helpful in any way, I’d love to know, friends!!  :) xoxo

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