Perfecting Your Digital Workflow with Vanessa Joy
I remember the switch from film to digital like it was yesterday. We had to convince our clients that shooting with digital didn’t sacrifice quality. We’d have them look at wedding albums with film and digital images and ask if they could pick out which was which. I recall being proud when they thought a digital image was a film one.
And look where we are now. I’m about to write an article about your workflow…and it’s going to be all digital. If I wrote this 15 years ago, a computer wouldn’t even have come into the equation.
But what does that mean for you? Has life gotten easier? Nope. It has gotten harder. You have more to do and more possible ways to do it (i.e., screw it up). Clients are more demanding than ever (I actually had one the other day who, after I gave her 10 preview pictures, asked for more before the proofs were ready). Marketing is a constant effort. So how do you keep up and keep your sanity?
Clients Come First
Client experience should be your number-one concern. What does their journey look and feel like throughout their time with you? Are there parts of your relationship where there’s dead air? Are they waiting too long for images or products?
It can be easy to forget what photography looks like from the client’s perspective when we’re knee deep in business tasks. Whatever workflow decisions you make, keep their experience in mind. Always communicate the process with them and send reminders (I do mine via 17hats) so they know you have them in the forefront of your mind.
Put Marketing in Your Workflow
One of the biggest mistakes I see photographers make in their workflow is forgetting that marketing needs to be included. You may bitch about the constant demands of social media marketing, but be happy about it. You have a free, open forum to market your business indefinitely. Use it.
Think about how you share images with other vendors. At what point do you select images for your blog, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook? If you’re an event photographer, when and how do you communicate with the venue about sharing an album of images for their sales room?
I use Instagram for a lot of communication with the venue. It tends to be a lower barrier to entry in getting contact information. I send photos that night that I’ve done for a same-day edit (see my checklist at www.breatheyourpassion.com/sde), and build a relationship from there. When the proofs are complete, I pick all of the favorites and we submit to publications via Two Bright Lights. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s a staple in your workflow or you’ll find it easily slipping away from you.
Get Help Where You Need It
Thankfully, with the onset of digital photography, there’s also been an explosion of companies that help photographers with it. I’ve found my happy place with Freedom Edits (www.freedomedits.com/vanessajoy gets you $50 to try them out). They cull my images, process them according to my style and upload them to my online galleries. It’s super fast, too.
I cannot imagine going back to having to cull and edit my photos anymore. The drudgery would kill my creativity and limit the number of jobs I could take on and the amount of money I could make.
It’s the same thing with album designs. While I love using Fundy Designer for my designs, I commission an incredible graphic designer to put together my predesigns. It helps my album sales tremendously, and I’m incredibly inspired to see how someone else sees my imagery and tells the story of a wedding day.
Streamline Your Processes
As much as I’d like to think I can roll over, snap some pics and sign autographs all day, that’s just not realistic. I recently saw a beautiful meme of a ballerina’s feet. One foot was wildly beautiful, perfectly en pointe in her pretty pink ballet slipper. The other foot was in the same pointed position but without the ballet shoe. You could see broken toes, cut-up toenails and bandages everywhere. The message with it was: “Everyone wants the success, but they don’t want the work.” Amen, ballerina. Amen.
Just because you’re going to live and breathe photography doesn’t mean that you can’t be smart about the work you have to do. Here’s a list of my favorite three digital tools that help me manage the tasks that I personally have to do.
IFTTT is an app that fulfills commands based on cause and effect scenarios. If I post on Instagram, it automatically posts the photo (not the link) on Twitter. If it’s going to rain today, it sends a reminder to my phone for me to take my umbrella in the morning.
Captio lets you email yourself in one tap. It’s perfect for people like me who use their inbox as a task list.
Later is useful to my social media manager, who loves it. It’s primarily focused on Instagram (which is great because so am I), but also posts to Facebook and Pinterest and others. The best part is that the articles these guys send to their mailing list are fantastic. I get so much education from them on social media trends and tips. I’m never going to leave them.
Here are my top three photo workflow tools:
Photo Mechanic is the fastest culling and renaming tool ever. It flows effortlessly and makes it possible for me to quickly find my favorite photos the night of a wedding for the same-day edit.
Blogstomp is part of my same-day edit display. I’ve gotten away from logo-ing my images for social media. Using a digital picture frame, I display perfectly logoed images from the wedding day. That’s brand recognition all night long.
Fundy Design Suite is helpful during the sales session. Although I don’t do the initial design, I sit with my clients in the album sales session and completely finish their album design right in front of them. We make whatever changes they want and it’s done by the end of a two-hour sales session. And since I started using these tools, my clients have been tripling the size of their albums this year.
I hope this gives you some perspective for your digital workflow. It’s taken a long time from film to mastering this, and I want it to take you much less time—that is, until everything is virtual/augmented reality and it all changes agai