January 11, 2021
When someone asked me to teach them how to take their business to the next level, I knew I couldn’t do it without diving DEEP into my workflow. This is specific to photography, but truly, every business needs a good system.
I will link a few things throughout this post and some of them are referral links, which means I will make money if you purchase through them. Honeybook gives both of us $200 off when you use the link to sign up, for example. If you don’t want to do it that way, no worries! Just google the site I’m talking about and search the info for yourself.
I broke this into sections so that if you only care about photo management, for example, you can skip to that section & learn what you want!
Clients reach out in a few different ways. Here’s how I streamline that. You want to get people to email as quickly as possible so that you have a trail of what you’ve talked about that’s easy to search!
Instagram, Facebook, Text
If a client reaches out this way, I send them a direct link to my website. It has a contact form linked through Honeybook that automatically puts in their desired shoot date, email, phone number, name, etc. and gives me all the details in one concise place.
If they reach out this way, I’ll manually add them to Honeybook because it really doesn’t take me much time!
Once they’re in Honeybook, I send a pre-drafted email and pricing brochure. The system automatically puts in their first name so I know I’m spelling it correctly, which is super important to me! I do customize the email a bit based on what they say in their inquiry, but the content is generally the same.
The client selects what kind of session they want to go with, and then I send over a Calendly link. I set the dates and times I’m available and it allows me to choose my schedule so easily.
Once we have a date/time nailed down, I send over a proposal that includes a contract and invoice, and they pay their retainer fee when they receive it. I also include any guides or tips that apply, such as my family outfit guide for all family sessions.
Honeybook is the best for this because they handle all the payment processing. People can pay via credit card super easily, but it does take 3% of the cost (which is standard for any credit card processing). Don’t use Venmo for business, even when people ask. Not only does it seem less professional to use it, but it’s also against Venmo’s policies and they can shut down your account.
A week before the shoot, I send a reminder with any final details about parking, where to meet, and a check on the weather. I remind them that weather can change dramatically in a day or two, so we don’t reschedule unless it’s looking bad 48 hours before the shoot.
If the shoot is a wedding, we’re obviously in contact way more than just one week before! Maybe I’ll do another post that’s wedding-specific, because that’s a more complex workflow.
Charge all batteries the night before the shoot.
Put all lenses, flashes, batteries, backup camera body, accessories, etc. into camera bag.
Make sure memory cards are cleared, then load them into the camera.
I aim to arrive about 15 minutes early to every shoot, and even earlier if I’ve never been to the location before so that I can scope out good spots. After we’re done, I remind them that they’ll have their photos in two weeks!
I shoot on two cards for safety – it’s a huge reason why I upgraded to a Canon 5DMIV last year. If anything happens to one card, I know I’ve got it covered on the other one!
I keep track of what’s on each SD card using a sticky note (super official) that I have in my card case. For CF cards, I kept the original plastic packaging so that I can put a piece of washi tape on the outside with the sessions that are on that card.
I cull all photos using PhotoMechanic. It’ll change your life. If you’re dumping all your photos to Lightroom to sort through them, this will literally save HOURS of time for you. You look at all the photos on the card, rate the ones you’ll edit, and only copy those over to your hard drive and Lightroom.
I usually choose 1-2 photos of each pose and location. There’s no need for two of your photos to look identical in a gallery, unless one is color and one is black & white.
I’ve used a LaCie hard drive for years, switching to Samsung this year for speed/reliability of a solid state drive. It’s unbelievable how much faster these Samsung drives run.
Until a session is delivered, I don’t clear the memory cards. This is just another fail-safe if something were to happen to my hard drive throughout the process of editing. This works because I have quick turnaround times, but if you’re taking months on weddings, you may just consider dumping the photos to two hard drives instead.
I edit most sessions using the KJ Preset Process, but I modify it to my own look, and use my own preset for flash photography at events/wedding receptions. It’s a phenomenal process that really teaches you how to edit while using it – I can’t recommend it enough!
I export the photos from Lightroom and use Pixieset to send out my galleries to clients. It looks professional and I make money off of any print purchases the clients make, so I love it!
I send a pre-written email in Honeybook (again, customized to include a memory from the session or something specific about them) to deliver the photos. I always ask them to tag me, write a review, let me know if they have questions, etc. and I always thank them for supporting my dream of running this business!
If you have any questions about this or want me to go a little deeper on a portion of this, shoot me a DM on Instagram!