Some tools and resources we use that make our work faster and more efficient
Wedding photography is an amazing job, isn’t it!? We shoot stories of extraordinary love and celebrations, travel to exotic destinations and create beautiful fairytales for couples. And for half the time, yes, it is exactly like this! We meet amazing people with beautiful stories and help capture one of the most special days of their lives. But the other part of the job is essentially a desk job where we spend a larger part of our work lives on the images we just shot. When you think about becoming a wedding photographer, you naturally don’t think about the hours of laborious work that come with it – data backup, culling, editing, uploading, delivery, albums, online presence, and so on. But a majority of being a wedding photographer includes all the above.
A few years ago, we, just like everybody else slogged on with thousands of files, backing them up, renaming them, copying them into hundreds of folders, editing each one separately, painfully outputting each one, delivering them to the client in a USB, and on and on and on. But the past couple of years have given us great tools and programmes that have made this process from taking an image to delivering them, much faster and easier. Although we do spend a fair amount of time on our desks still, let’s say we don’t break our backs all night anymore. (Unless we’re on a deadline!)
Including these tools in your workflow will save you hours of unessential labour and keep you ahead of deadlines. We have written in detail about the workflow we follow in our studio and why it is important in a previous post. So give it a read if you need some quick tips on how to create a better workflow for a successful and efficient photography business.
Let’s take a look at a few of the tools and programmes we use in our studio and how they help us increase our efficiency.
Online Sharing System: Google Drive and Dropbox
These file sharing and storage systems make our internal working process super convenient! It is a very essential part of our daily workflow. There is no need to keep passing around a pen drive to share data or write everything in our diaries to keep track of things. The Dropbox/Google Drive folders can share data with any amount of people you give access to. So keeping a track of our assignments and work projects in one single Numbers/Spreadsheet file is hassle-free. We can also share images and files with our editors, content writers and social media managers.
Also, all of this is offline! Any changes made to a file by one person gets automatically updated and synced for all. Additionally, it’s a great backup option for project files and work-in-process files. If you also want to backup heavier files, you can explore their pro paid versions that give you more storage space.
Photo Culling and Post Processing: Photo Mechanic / Lightroom / Photoshop
We know you’re thinking that if you have Lightroom, why use another software for importing and culling? The answer lies in the reason we’re writing this article – to increase productivity. Photo Mechanic beats Lightroom in efficiency by miles! It can browse through tons of files much more quickly than Lightroom, saving precious time. In Lightroom, rendering a file, going through them with smart preview or even switching between photos is painfully slow. The whole process can take hours. Photo Mechanic goes through images with incredible speed. It also helps cull, organise, name, label and sort images into different buckets, so you can be equally efficient in the editing and development stage. The software gives the option of colour labels, ratings, flags and other ranking methods to identify the ones you want to prioritise. But it’s not a photo-processing/editing tool. So once you’ve shortlisted the images you want to work on, the next step is moving the images from Photo Mechanic to Lightroom which the said tool manages quite effectively.
Lightroom is a great tool for bulk edits. About 80% of images from a wedding require only some basic correction like adjusting exposure, white balance, colour temperature, contrast, vibrance, saturation, sharpening and reducing noise if any. If we follow these individual steps for every single photograph, it could take weeks to complete one wedding set. And we honestly do not have that kind of time. So what do we do? We have some basic presets in Lightroom basis our style of shooting and the kind of photos we need to edit. A preset for all similar images reduces the steps and speeds up the process, leaving us with enough time to give extra attention to 5-star photos!
Now, this is where we need t0 bring our the big gun – Photoshop. All of our photos that need detailed editing and special attention go into this software. You can do almost anything you want once you get a picture into Photoshop. It’s also more of a photo manipulation software than basic editing. You can use it to enhance certain part of the images, make dramatic effects and create concept shots.
Client image sharing: Pixieset
We no longer have to worry about sending a courier to our clients with their images on a pen drive thanks to this nifty little software. Pixieset is a cloud-based client delivery software. It provides easy download and sharing of images for the clients. We love that we can upload high-resolution image galleries which can also serve as a back-up for images in case something untoward happens.
Another great feature is that we can sync our Lightroom catalogue to Pixieset and upload images directly to the cloud from there. There is no need to output all images into a JPEG file first and then upload it to Pixie. Pixieset also helps us get rid of the headache of sending the wedding set individually to friends and family members. One link can be sent to all, and they can pick and choose which images they want to download. It also lets you ‘white label’ the website and add it to your website as a sub-domain. Which means that the link to a client’s picture gallery will seem like it’s on your website.
Marketing videos and Slideshows: Animoto
Sometimes you just need a quick and dirty video slideshow that you quickly need to get done and don’t want to spend hours on. That’s where Animoto comes in. It helps us create video slideshows with incredible ease! You can choose between various templates depending on the kind video you need to create – slideshows, marketing videos etc. There is also a vast media library for choosing the music for your slideshows. You can choose between templates which allow for fonts or not, basis your requirement.
The biggest advantage we think is that you don’t need a video editor to work on the application. Anyone with a fair understanding of the internet can create a slideshow within minutes. The only limitation is that you have very little control over font type, sizes, and a few other formatting options. Still, we think it’s a small price to pay for making effective and quick slideshows. You can be in and out with a smooth
Save-a-Date slideshow for your client within 15 minutes!
Album Creation and Designing: SmartAlbums
When it comes to designing albums, the sky’s the limit! There are software like InDesign that give you options and control over every single detail. But like we said, we’re looking at software that save time and increase efficiency while giving us good control over the product. SmartAlbums is a no-hassle, easy-to-create tool with which you can make albums with ease. The application provides a host of layouts to work with. We absolutely LOVE the drag and drop feature! All we need to do is drag the images we want and it’ll import the images into the library. You can also use the drag-and-drop to swap two images. The software can also read the rating systems – labels, stars, and flags – from your Lightroom catalogue. It also gives the option to edit a photo in the album directly in Photoshop or Lightroom. After you’ve made the edit, the updated and edited version of the image is automatically reflected in the album.
Another feature which makes our work completely easy is cloud proofing and online commenting. We no longer need to go back and forth on emails or phone calls with the clients. They can view the album online from anywhere in the world and give their feedback on images directly. We can’t imagine a time when albums were created differently or left at the mercy of the printers. Once you’ve started using it and get the hang of it, you’ll even start having fun with the process, as it gives you quite a lot of control to execute your vision.
Marketing and Newsletter Campaigns: MailChimp
MailChimp has made marketing campaigns and sending out newsletters to our subscribers extremely easy, and dare we say, super fun for us! It has an easy-to-use interface and multiple options for email creation and lists. So we can choose the template of emails or create them from scratch with their easy-to-use template editor. With MailChimp we can also create a segmented list of people – blog subscribers, wedding inquiries etc.
Once you’ve created an email, you can preview it and even send a test email to yourself before sending it out to your list. The service also has an option of creating automated and auto-reply emails that you can schedule. It also gives us the option of tracking analytics – number of subscribers, how many people opened and clicked on the links and other data. So we can keep a track of which campaign, newsletter or marketing strategy is working better than others.
Social Media Scheduling: Hootsuite
It’s a fact that as professional wedding photographers we need to be active on social media today. And considering how much work we have on a typical day, it’s an inevitability that we forget to post regularly. Although a direct upload is any day better for reach and engagement, sometimes you just don’t have the time to choose a picture, write a caption, and post. This is where HootSuite comes in. It can integrate all your social media platforms. You can schedule a picture for a specific time, save the caption and hashtags and forget about it! It’s a good idea to schedule a few posts from time to time when you know you’re going to be busy than to miss out. It also helps keep a track of the success of your social media campaigns. You can also use applications like CoSchedule, Buffer and Later for your Instagram marketing.
Using these tools is not only a way to improve your photography business but also maintain a good work-life balance. When you’re not stuck in your studio for hours, you not only have time to finish more work but also to give attention to your family and friends. Your personal life is just as important as your professional one.
A lot of the above-mentioned tools have free trials but paid subscriptions. So, take a trial of any of these to figure out if they’re worth spending money on. Or you can use similar applications, paid or free, to keep yourself ahead of the game. As you keep using these, you’ll notice a stark before and after difference in your work and output. Some of the tools we mentioned above may not necessarily be the best ones out there, but they get our work done quite good and fast.
Let us know if we can help you with any doubts or queries about these software programs. We’d love to help you out!
NOTE: This is not a sponsored post. We use all the above-mentioned tools and resources in our studio. All opinions expressed in this post are strictly our own.