It is the season of giving but at the end of the year and the beginning of the new year is when we also start to reevaluate our businesses and how we do things. With the New Year so close we begin to make resolutions to be more efficient so we can spend more time living. Streamline our businesses so we can be more present in our children’s lives. After all, the older I get the more I realize that time really does begin to fly…its insane really. With that said I want to share some of the things that I feel make me efficient, save me time, and in general, make my business run as efficient as it can.
1. ShootQ or any studio management software that you feel fits your business. In fact, my friend Keri Meyers recently told me about a new software that has even better features and I will be trying that out as soon as I get a chance to settle in (it has added client galleries, album proofing + everything that ShootQ has)-I will update you on my reviews on it! Oh and if you want to check it out too its called Sprout! ShootQ can be found HERE. The reason I need this type of software and you might too, is that I can integrate my personal calendar with it as well, set reminders, send my clients questionnaires, they can make payments, and so so much more. For instance, at the beginning of a school year or a baseball season I can sit down and put all the kids stuff in my personal calendar and it integrates over so I don’t book something over my kid’s activities if I don’t want to. And believe me, that was an issue as I was booking things over one another because I didn’t have everything in one place. Its awesome really and has the ability to make you way more efficient; at times its like having a personal assistant (especially once you get everything just the way you want it).
2. Wacom Tablet. I have said this over and over but I no longer even have a mouse. I had the old Bamboo tablet in my closet for forever and finally decided to try it-a very wise person told me I had to put my mouse up and not go back and forth until I got the hang of it or I would never get it down so I did. I never went back. Honestly I am way more efficient with it – my selections in photoshop, tedious edits, composites, overall editing is so much faster. It is just way more intuitive than a mouse and more precise in my opinion. My advise? Don’t go with a smaller one because you will want a larger one in no time; invest your money in a good one because its something you will use every.single.day. I have had mine for years without issue. It still works now but there is a little short in the wire leading to the computer so I have to have something in place for that. They now make a wireless kit as well to make it wireless. I have asked for an upgrade for Christmas – there is a “lower end” one and a ridiculous one that I am not even sure I am technologically advanced enough for (but I bet I could figure it out if I had to). All my favs (old & new) are listed below from my trusted sellers.
3. Camera Body. We have been told over and over that equipment doesn’t matter; you can take an amazing image with a phone if need be. Very very true-some of my favorite pictures are on my iPhone. But, when you are a portrait or wedding photographer obviously you need to be photographing with good equipment. While I do agree that glass is usually more important than the body, the body makes a huge difference. Why? Getting as much right in camera saves you time and a good camera body can definitely assist with that. The two biggest things I upgraded for the last time were burst speed as well as noise handling (although I kept my Mark III as my back up and still use that quite often, I upgraded to a 1D-X). Previously I upgraded due to focus issues and lack of enough selective focus points (Mark II-hated that camera). If you take care of a good body you can keep it for a really long time-I have never had a body go out on me. Don’t forget that you want to get good Compact Flash or SD cards so you will have fast write speeds (which can also save you time during an active shoot; you never want to wait for your camera to have to catch up). Don’t forget, Lexar usually comes with recovery software should you need it (hopefully not but ummmm well you know, it happens).
4. Glass. Ok so maybe these won’t necessarily make you more efficient, well yes they will! Hear me out…as I said before, the better your images are in camera, the less you have to edit them, the more time you save. Seriously. Good glass on a good body with the right knowledge will yield you images that don’t need your sitting down for hours editing-they are gorgeous right out of camera. My favorites for getting great images straight out of camera? So many good ones! If hubby hasn’t wrapped a pretty little package under the tree then now is your time to help him out if you know what I mean!
5. USPS. Say what you want about the postal service but their website not only saves times, allows you to purchase postage for free (unlike services like simplystamps.com), it also gives you a discount for purchasing & printing online- can’t beat that! Plus your super awesome mailman can pick up for you so you can stay in your jammies even longer! Just register with them and start shipping from home: 6. CPS or NPS. I belong to Canon Professional Service or CPS-makes me more efficient because, for a few hundred dollars a year I get superb service for repairs & such. The fee you pay is based on the amount of items you own that you register but your membership gets you faster shipping, prepaid shipping labels for expediting your run to the UPS store, discounts on your repairs, expedited servicing, free clean & checks and more. Not only that, your serial numbers and such are in one place should something happen-I honestly didn’t have mine written down anywhere when one of my lenses got stolen but all I had to do was sign on and get it for the police report to run through the pawn shop database. I obviously know nothing about NPS or Nikon Professional Services but I am assuming they are the same thing. Its work checking out! 7. PPA. I have also said this until I am blue in the face, PPA is a great resource to have – not only can you can get your liability insurance through them (and some type of health insurance but I know nothing about that), they protect you legally should you need that type of representation, and provide lots of other services that I probably have never taken advantage of but should check into. One other service I did use was their trust. A few years ago I had a hard drive fall (umm liability of having kids). Luckily I had my edited images backed up but I do like to keep my Raws and I didn’t want to have to recompile a bunch of stuff so I posted something about it and someone told me that PPA has a trust for that. I gave them a call and they took it from there. The costs were a third of what every company I called charged because the trust paid for the other part of it for me and they arranged everything; it was simple, easy, paid for the membership many times over, and was obviously a time saver. 8. Coupon and such. Coupons aren’t normally time savers but there is a new way to coupon that saves times & money. If you haven’t tried Ebates good gosh its awesome. You literally don’t have to do anything except go to their site, type in the item or store you want to shop and if they offer cash back it will tell you. Once you do your order within something like a week you get that money put back in your ebates account (and then you can transfer it to paypal). It is pretty awesome. Olivia wanted some Uggs for Christmas and they were already having a sale and then I saw that ebates was offering 9% back too so I saved a ton. I even forgot to use it several times for my online shopping and I still have quite a bit in my account from the last few months. Couponing that is time saving? Um yeah! Plus they don’t send a ton of emails which saves me time lol If you want to sign up I would love for you to use my referral code;just sign up HERE! Happy shopping & saving! 9. A Good Workflow. You feel it when you are in the grove-you are culling like crazy, making decisive choices, editing like a dream. It should feel that way every single time. Obviously there will be a session or two a year that might throw you off your game but seriously if you have your sh–t together you should be flying through. Your style should show through in the images you choose but you should be able to get it done fast. I usually spend less than a half hour culling a 500-800 image session (I usually cull on my macbook which is screen shared to my mac in my studio because I am not concerned with color or anything when culling; just composition & emotion). I teach my workflow from start to finish in the Virtual Portrait Workshop which is pretty awesome if I must say so. If you want to learn about that click HERE. 10. Another thing I do to be efficient throughout the year is prepare for the end of the year throughout the year-I did a post on blogging efficiency earlier this year-you can check it out HERE. In addition, if you decide on things like client Christmas gifts ahead of the year you can order them after each session so you will have them ready at the end of the year! 11. Good Bags. You need to be fast when yo hare trying to change lenses and such so I have a few different bags (and my hubby has a bag too) so I need my bags to sit up and be able to close so sand doesn’t get in and have plenty of pockets and such-Kelly Moore is my go-to for bags:
12. Lastly, is a shameless plug. Once I cull I am an editing machine. I want my images to fit the style my brand represents and I want to be consistent as well as efficient. My way of doing this is with my presets & actions. Do I know how to hand edit and do I tweak? Absolutely! In fact, in the workshop I mention in #9 all I show is hand editing because I want you guys to learn as much as possible so you know what you are doing & why. But, when it comes down to it I love love love my actions-they streamline the heck out of my process and my images are exactly what I what them to be! If you have a second, check them out HERE. 13. Misc. Wait, there are a few other things that don’t fit in any of the categories sooooo I wanted to share those too:
With all of this being said, there is always room for improvement and I too will be evaluating my business to make sure I am doing everything I can to be my most efficient while still providing my clients with A+ customer service and jaw-dropping images. I don’t have any choice but to be efficient-with 4 kids and a small business I need every second to count! I hope these tips helped & I can’t wait to see where you go with your business in the new year! Also, if you didn’t see the announcement, I will be offering Skype Mentoring for January-March of the new year; those are the only months of 2016 I plan to mentor due to my busy shooting schedule. If you want the details on that click below and see if its something you think could benefit your business for 2016.
If you want to check out all the products in my store feel free to do a little Christmas shopping for yourself: