Being a photographer is more than just taking pictures. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that, honestly, taking the pictures is the quick and easy part of it all. For every photo session I photograph, I spent around 8 hours behind the scenes between editing, communicating with my client, blogging the session, sending invoices, promoting the images on social media, and keeping the necessary paperwork updated.
Being a busy photographer can quickly add up the hours that one spends at their desk. As you head into your busy season as a photographer, keep these tips in mind to help you manage it all.
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No.01Create Office Hours
When we are busy, it is easy for us to want to work non-stop. And while we think that answering emails at 11:00pm at night is good customer service, in the long run it only makes us busier. When your clients see you responding and interacting with them late in the evening and on the weekends, they are given the impression that you are available during all hours of the day, encouraging them to continue emailing you and expecting responses during non-working hours. This can create an unhealthy work habit, and it’s best to break it before it starts.
Setting office hours was one of my biggest struggles because I love the feeling of being all caught up, all the time. But honestly, the email is still going to be there the next morning when you sit down at your desk. Set office hours and stick to them.
For me, I keep at traditional 9:00am – 5:00pm work schedule throughout the week, and I allow myself an hour or two on the weekend to catch up on email since photography clients generally inquire on the weekends when they have the time to hire.
Having time away from your desk is healthy. It keeps you refreshed and motivated, making you even more ready to tackle your inbox the next time you sit down in your office. And honestly, clients are fine with corresponding during business hours, as they are busy spending time with their families as well.
No.02Have A Space For You
Having a space for your office is really important, but not always possible. If you can snag a room in your home for an office, that’s awesome! If not, having any space that is just for you is so helpful when you are busy.
This space should not be at the dining room table, or at a place that you need to set up and take down often. Instead, buy yourself a small desk and stick it on a wall! All you need is a flat surface that is yours and only yours. Where you can leave your computer and planner spread out, without having to move it once dinner is on the table.
When you are busy, you need a space to call your own and a place that you can associate with work. Having your own space minimizes the time wasted picking up your items after you work, only to have to set them back up the following day to resume your tasks. Trust me, when you are busy you won’t have time for all that.
No.03Import Sessions Immediately
When getting home from a session or day of sessions, most of us just want to relax. But before you pull up a chair and sip something refreshing, import your session photos to lightroom.
This is so important. Why? Because later, when it is time to work, you can start right away. You won’t have to wait for photos to upload, you can quickly sit down and begin work.
No.04Set Time Limits for Culling/Editing
This is my game changing secret when it comes to managing it all as a busy photographer. As artists, we are so proud of our work. We look at our images and love them all. Well, most of them anyways. It’s hard for us to hit the delete button and narrow down our favorite photos to edit.
If you feel like this, it’s okay! We all do. But do yourself a huge favor and set a time limit for culling and editing.
For me, I allow myself one hour to look through and select the images I want to edit for my clients. One hour only! Being strict with my one hour time limit makes me look at the task in a more realistic way, instead of in an emotional way. Knowing that I only have an hour to pick my photos, I don’t waste time analyzing every piece and part of a photo, but look at the photo as a whole to quickly determine a “yay” or a “nay.”
Once I choose my photos to edit, I am a little more relaxed on my time spent editing. There are times when I can edit quickly because the session was photographed in the same light, making it easy to edit.
Then there are other other sessions that require more of my time, whether is it because we changed location throughout the session or I have a lot of touch ups needed on skin.
The key here is, when you don’t have a lot of time anyways during busy season, spend it wisely. Don’t waste time analyzing every single photo, but save that time to edit and make the photos you do choose the best they can be.
No.05Have Strict Start and Stop Times
Once I started being strict with my clients, I was so much happier with my business. When sending my clients a session reminder email, I remind them of the importance of punctuality and at what time I expect to start photographing their session. Setting these expectations can be as easy as saying,
“I can’t wait to see your family this Saturday for your session! I have you scheduled from 9:00am to 10:00am. It is really important that you arrive on time to your session so you can take advantage of your full hour with me. Please note that late arrivals do forfeit both their deposit and photography session. I am looking forward to your session! Please let me know if you have any questions as we prepare for your session this week!”
Easy. Done. To the point. As soon as I started adding this disclaimer to my session reminder emails, my clients started showing up on time, if not early. That meant I was starting and ending my sessions on time, allowing me to spend more time with my family and less time waiting around on location for clients to show up. When we are busy, we have no time to waste.
No.06Blog Your Sessions As You Finish Them
When we are busy, it is easy for us to cut out tasks to save time. But blogging your sessions should be the last thing you cut out. Once you are done editing a session for a client, it needs to be on your website the same day. Not only does this save you time down the road when you are going to need to spend an entire week blogging past sessions, but it will also keep your website updated.
I find that using BlogStomp is a quick and easy way to build photo collages and storyboards of my sessions for my website, making blogging sessions not only fast but very easy.
Potential clients want to see fresh work on your site. Not only does it show your latest and best work, but it shows your client that you are actively taking sessions which encourages them to reach out and hire you. To be honest, it only takes you an additional 20 minutes to add a session to your website, so add that into your workflow and do it!
Being a busy photographer is all about time management. Sit down with a pen and paper and outline all of the things that need to happen once you photograph a session. Prioritize where you spend your time and spend your time wisely. Once you develop a workflow that works for you, you will not only be happier with your business but you will be a better photographer because you won’t feel burnt out. As you prepare for a busy season as a photographer, be sure to keep these tips in mind to help reduce your stress and maximize your creativity.