Time is a valuable resource in any business, but especially photography. With that in mind, it makes sense to make the most of it, and to ask yourself, can I do things more efficiently? If I could outsource something, should I? Is what I'm doing even necessary? Here are four ways to optimise your time and make the most of every shoot.
Ask photographers why they got into portrait and wedding photography and they'll say how they love photography … or telling love stories … or connecting with clients on their special days. Not many say they love editing photos all day, or painstakingly colour correcting images in a darkened room, or designing albums (hey, we're OK with it though!).
Being a photographer in business means knowing when to delegate. Outsourcing colour correction and design is a great way to free up time to do what you love – taking photos. You can work with your colour corrector and designer so they know your style and the look you’re trying to achieve. As specialists in their field, colour correctors and designers can turn your images into art.
2. Minimise editing
It doesn't make sense to spend much time editing images that you haven't sold. You can speed up initial edits by using presets, and batch-applying these to the whole shoot. When your client comes back to make their selections you'll have done minimal work. (You might like to mention the extra artwork you'll be doing on the images they buy.)
In Adobe Lightroom you can edit the first image in a group that's been shot under similar lighting conditions, then apply those settings across the rest of the group. Go back and make any minor adjustments if you like. If you find yourself constantly making the same or similar adjustments you can easily create presets and apply them in seconds.
If you're someone who offers colour-corrected digital files of every image you shoot you may be doing a lot of work for a comparatively small return. You'll have less editing to do if you cull the images rigorously before the client sees them, to get rid of duplicates, low-quality shots etc. Offering a limited number of digital files, and/or tying them to the purchase of physical product (like a studio box or album), will open up lots of avenues to upsell as well!
3. Sell more of the images!
We’re not talking "shoot and burn" here but shooting to a plan. Shooting less, maybe, but selling more.
Ask yourself, what product(s) do I want to sell? And what photographs do those products require?
Suppose you want to sell a box of images from a family shoot. Because the product only holds 10-25 images you won't need hundreds of shots, but you will need variety. Not many people are going to buy 25 photos that are basically the same but with a different look or smile. That might mean shooting different settings, the family group together, the family individually, Mum and Dad together, different pairings of the kids, the kids with their hobbies, the pets, and so on. Plus a few shots of each pose so they have a choice. But if you're confident that you know what they want, and that's just a framed piece for the wall, why shoot that many photos?
Same with albums, except that an album can hold far more photos. That means space for more story telling, more settings, more activities. We think the ultimate family shoot is "a day in the life" — a beautiful expression of love and family pride.
You'll do better with albums, too, if you shoot to a plan. If it's for a wedding there'll definitely be a story to tell, with distinct "chapters" — preparations, the ceremony, formals, family shots, the reception, dance and so on. All maybe supported by detail shots to convey the setting. Think about the layouts ahead of time, so you know what to shoot. Bear in mind that you might want to pre-design an ideal album for them (say 25 pages, 50 sides) … but sometimes need to cut back again to what they committed to upfront, which could be half that number, or a smaller book. You won't always succeed, but you'll never sell the bigger album if you don't have the content. Yes, design is something you can outsource to us, but we need the images to work with!
If you want to do your own designing there's plenty you can do to speed the process. For example, in the Workspace designer, favourite the templates you like so they're easy to locate and reuse. Developing a consistent style is a real timesaver and can become a signature that people recognise you by. Classic, funky, or informal; generous white space or full frame panoramas…
4. Upsell, and leave a good impression.
We won't go into detail about sales. Check out this post for lots of ideas about cross-selling, up-selling, phased selling, repeat selling and more! Let's just say that even with outsourcing and an efficient workflow you can only handle so much work, and it's important to maximise the return from every client.
Finally, word of mouth is your best friend. It'll a great day when you realise how often your past clients are generating your new ones! You'll find products like albums and frames are great silent salesmen, but be sure to leave a lasting good impression as well. Phone, email and/or message clients. Thank them for working with you and say how much you enjoyed the experience. Are they happy with everything? Include the link to their image gallery in Workspace and encourage them to share it on social media. Attach a shopping cart to encourage more sales from family and friends.
The point of these posts is simply to give you things to think about. Nothing's black and white in professional photography (excuse the pun!) and we love that every studio can be different. If you disagree with us, or have other ideas to share, we'd love to hear from you.