Winter is officially the “off season” for most wedding photographers in the northern hemisphere. There will be a few Christmas and New Years weddings, but for the most part, the 2015 shooting season is past and 2016 glows from the future, full of opportunity. Now is the time to become Highly Efficient Photographers!
For some, a well-deserved nap is in order. Celebratory bottles of cheer will be passed around to friends, toasts will be toasted, marshmallows roasted, all of that. What will you do with this time? Clean your gear? Dust off your blog? Implement a new system? Refine your workflow?
For many, these next several chilly months will be a time of intentional business workflow efficiency improvement. Some of you will finally master the keyboard shortcuts in Lightroom. Santa might upgrade your gear so you can spend the winter learning your new tools. Nearly all of you will, at one point this winter, be looking around for things you can improve. Things like efficiency.
Efficiency: Speed, Prioritization and Delegation
Many of you put “Efficiency” at the top of your Christmas wish-list of Things To Be Improved. Increasing the speed with which you complete the various tasks of your business is a critical element to success. But Prioritization and Delegation go hand-in-hand with increased speed. These three things make up the Trifecta of Efficiency: Speed, Prioritization and Delegation.
However, efficiency is not merely a faster way to Do All The Things, there are also quite a few practices or techniques that you need to stop doing.
Here at KISS U, we have the privilege of working with some of the top photographers in the business today. And one thing successful professional photographers have in common is an almost fanatical devotion to the concept of Efficiency. So we’ve brought in some Photography Efficiency Experts.
We asked them all the same two questions:
What would you NEVER do, as an efficient photographer?
The answers might surprise you.
1. Matt Kennedy would never shoot over memory cards…
I would never shoot over memory cards until they are backed up on 3 places, one of those being in the cloud. Just buy more cards. Don’t risk it. You’ll waste so much time looking through images on cards and not remembering what you’ve backed up or not.
I would never edit my own photos. Really. Outsourcing the editing of my photos to Photographer’s Edit has been the main thing that allows me to shoot tons and still have a life with my family.
2. Kevin Swan would never look closely at every photo…
I would never… Spend more than 4 hours editing a wedding—including album design.
I would never… Look closely at every photo I shot. I look at the thumbnails, pick the best one of a group, zoom in to make sure it’s in focus, then reject the others. Move on to the next subject or type of shot and repeat.
3. Josh Newton would never pass up a job…
I would NEVER not hire an assistant to do all of your culling, editing, uploading, album design, album fulfillment. We are creatives and artists – anything we don’t HAVE to do, we need to outsource to make sure we stay alive, inspired, not overwhelmed, and so that we can put 100% of energy into things ONLY we can do for our business (shooting and personal relationships with clients).
I would never pass up any opportunity to shoot. Because of my systems I have in place (stated above!), I can say yes to a lot of weddings and gigs that are last minute and maybe not my full price. But SO many of my incredible opportunities have come up because I haven’t had to say no because I’m too busy on my computer.
“Oh, yeah, no – I never go on there. I just use it to share stuff that I think people would like.”
White is a marketing professional whose photography career grew out of his non-profit work. He is, officially, the Director of Artist Relations at Food for the Hungry, a non-profit organization that provides short-term emergency relief and long-term solutions to end world hunger. He is a networking wunderkind, making friends everywhere he goes. Social media accounts for a large majority of his photography jobs. However, when asked what he would never do, White pointed to social media and said he would never waste time there. He shares his inspirational non-profit work, photos from trips throughout the developing world, commercial photos, weddings, and amazing photos of his family. But what he does not do is let it suck him in.
What would I never do? Color correct my own images :) I know what I’m good at, and I know to trust professionals. That’s why I’m absolutely comfortable trusting ShootDotEdit with my color correction. I save so much time in my business by outsourcing my color correction that it’s not even funny.
6. Donal Doherty would never write the same email twice…
I never draft a new email for each new email. I have some great signatures set up in Outlook, when I get an email 90% of the time I have a response to reply in a jiffy.
I outsource the editing of my weddings to ShootDotEdit, so I never edit my weddings. Most people spend hours editing a wedding and if you worked out your rate for editing you’d be better off working in McDonalds. Gaining freedom means I can spend that time on marketing my business, looking after clients and of course spending more time with my family and friends. It’s a no brainer!
7. Zach & Jody Gray would never do it all themselves…
The one thing to never do is everything yourself. The 3rd world is the 3rd world because they do everything themselves and do not trade goods and services because of the lack of infrastructure. Don’t be a 3rd world photographer! We have so many resources available to us and need to use them.
Outsource your editing, get help designing your books (like using the KISSystem) and spend more time building your brand getting help and creating systems and less time working IN your brand managing it.
8. Sarah Petty would do all the consultations in-person…
I learned early on that I only make money if I’m doing the in-person consultation, the session and the ordering appointment.
So I outsource the retouching of my images or have my studio manager do it.
The other thing I don’t do is put images up in a gallery for clients to choose themselves what they want to order. I don’t have time to chase them down to place an order, which is invariably what happens. Instead, I hold a one hour in-person ordering appointment for my clients as I walk them through the selection process of choosing images they love to hang in their homes.
9. Nathan Holritz would never read your email before noon…
I would never answer email in the morning. Communication with clients is important, but I want to focus on something more creative and/or proactive, first.
I would never handle my own post-production. Why would I want to spend hours of my week behind a computer, when I could be out building relationships that would result in more business? Or spending time with my kids? Or taking a nap? I want to build by business, and have more free time. Outsourcing post-production will allow me to do both of those things.
10. Jared Bauman would never answer email without a template…
Back when I was running my photography studio, I would try to never send the same email to a client twice. Every time I fielded a question from a client, and spent the time to type out an answer, I would create a template out of it, and use it to answer the same question down the road. I found that I typically would get the same general questions from clients over the course of the wedding process, and it saved me a lot of time!
And while he never said it, we can safely assume that Jared is in full agreement with Nathan, Matt, Josh, Leeann, Donal and Zach & Jody on the topic of outsourcing your post.
“Do Less, Be More Efficient” ~ Everybody
These efficiency pros, all asked independently—and unaware of their fellow photographers’ answers—came to a couple of the same conclusions. Delegating or outsourcing is the most popular efficiency tip, and Post production is the most popular task to hand off. So, if you find yourself getting bogged down, look around at the tasks you’re doing. Maybe you could start 2016 off with a hand-off. Recent studies show that the less you do, the more efficient you can be. (Citing this article as a “recent study.”)
Don’t let your email defeat you.” ~ Everybody Else
Email management is a big deal, with Donal and Jared recommending a template-based system for your client communication and Nathan advising you to set aside a certain (non-morning) time to tackle your replies.