If you rolled your eyes reading the title, you’re in good company because that was me at one point thinking I had nothing to teach anyone else. I’ll preface this series with sentence number two by saying I KNOW I’m not an expert nor do I think I I’ve learned it all. Actually, I’m certain I’ve just barely tipped the iceberg. HOWEVER, I have come exceptionally far in just under three years and that means I HAVE learned three years’ worth of lessons to share.
The first part of this educational series is about my workflow, not because this is the first lesson I learned in chronological order, but because I literally just implemented a whole-lotta-newness that has changed my life and my business, and I don’t want you to wait three years spending way too much time camped out behind your computer screen. I was drawn to photography for a multitude of reasons, but never once did I say to myself ‘wow, it would be so much fun to stay up all hours of the night with my face in my computer’ and quite frankly, the nights I’ve had to do this have been the ones where I hated this business.
Okay, hate is really strong and it feels weird even saying it because truly, I love everything about this part of my life (even the business/administrative part because that speaks to my nerdy, business degree heart). So, to admit I’ve ever been in a season where I let my inefficient workflow suck the passion out of something I love so much is heartbreaking. Enter year 2017. I stepped back and was able to clearly see just how far I’d come since my launch in January of 2015. But now business was essentially booming in comparison to my earlier years, and I was drowning in work to do. If you know me, you know the moment I feel in over my head is the moment I (and everyone else around me) need therapy because I’m losing my mind. I have planners for my planners and to do lists just for the gratification of checking things off, and [s]he who lives life by a planner and to-do lists shall never fall behind (my life in a Psalm). But I was, and if I was afloat it was because I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t the best wife I could be, I wasn’t the best mom I could be, and I certainly wasn’t the best business owner. My clients were getting their images well within deadlines, but they weren’t getting all of me. They weren’t getting the other half of the LTP experience of genuine, passionate and joy-filled Taylor. And you know what’s the one thing that is irreplaceable and makes this business unique from any of the other 4 trillion photographers? Me. So it’s kind of a big deal if I’m not working on freeing up more time to give my clients the real me.
First off, I saved and saved and saved, and then I didn’t want to spend the money (the accountant in me is quite frugal), but I bought a MacBook, and I don’t regret it for one second. In 2016 my laptop died, and it was hanging on by a thread for what felt like forever before that. Right before wedding season we replaced it with a really nice desktop. Cool, it’s a great computer, but I just confined myself to one place, and you know what sucks about that? I work full time away from that one place. I couldn’t travel with it, I couldn’t change my scenery if I was feeling unmotivated, and most importantly, I couldn’t even start post processing until I got home.
On the heels of that, I bought an external hard drive to go with it. I’ve always used externals for back up in addition to cloud-based storage, but I now needed one to essentially live with my MacBook. I also purchased a 4-bay external card reader so I can offload up to four memory cards at once. WHAT?! (Thank you, Caiti – the learning experience is one of many reasons why you should pursue relationships with other creatives!!!!)
Which transitions me to why. Why invest in something portable? I take my MacBook with me to every session. Yeah, I know, eye roll because shoving one more thing in my camera bag is the least ideal scenario. BUT, when I wrap up a session this allows me to offload them onto my external hard drive immediately. The domino effect is that my images are ready for culling by the time I’m home.
Culling. This word alone and process used to be the bane of my existence. Seriously, the process of offloading my cards and culling a wedding alone would take me 1-2 weeks. WEEKS, Y’ALL. Granted, this was partly due to my “business hours” being nights and weekends and partly due to my chronic overshooting capabilities, but I gained 1-2 weeks back from each wedding with a relatively small investment. This is huge. Utilizing my drive home from a session to offload my cards, coupled with the software called PhotoMechanic, and I’m saving so. much. time. Now, I have my whole session/wedding offloaded and culled through, and sneak peeks up within an hour, and just slightly longer for a wedding due to the volume of images.
My portrait session clients are receiving their images within days, and my wedding clients are only having to wait 1-2 weeks. My blog posts are up in no more than two days, though I strive for 24 hours, and most importantly, I get to spend way more time behind my camera and not behind my computer. If you’re the old me and you’re drowning in your work because you haven’t stopped to assess your workflow, you’re doing yourself and your clients a disservice by bogging yourself down unnecessarily. Take some time to evaluate the places you spend most of your time, and see if there’s any room for improvement. It might take an investment, but if you’ve hit a place where your passion is being overshadowed because of your workload, it’s worth it. I promise.
Soon I’ll be sharing some cringe-worthy then and nows to be able to show you the difference education (and practice!) can make. Thanks for reading, and following along on this little dream of mine!