3 Programs for a Faster Workflow in Busy Season!

Who else is up to their eyeballs in client sessions? Tis the season for photographer chaos! I love my fall season, crazy as it may be, but I didn't always feel this way. I spent years over-committing, getting backlogged, going crosseyed, dreaming of photoshop, and ultimately doing my clients a disservice by being so frazzled I wasn't giving them the best of myself and my brand.

Does that sound familiar? There's hope. Trust me. There are many things that are crucial to helping me stay on track with my workflow. Today I'm going to talk about my workflow AFTER the session is over. And, I'm going to give you three specific things I couldn't live without. 

1. Lightroom
I couldn't do my job without this program. I could live without photoshop (although I do bring images into PS on occasion if I need to really fine tune or remove something in an image). The first thing I do after a session is organize my film and then upload any digital images. Yes! I shoot hybrid! Sometimes I'll shoot only 20 images at a family session digitally, other times 100! It depends on the session and the vibe and how it flows as to how much film I'm going to shoot. 

Lightroom is so much more than editing software, and when I learned about all the things it could do for organization I was so excited! The geek in me couldn't wait to get organized. (yes, if you know me, this is pretty funny and ironic). Yes the rest of my life is messy, literally there are toys and clothes and kid cups everywhere I look, but I really can't stand to be unorganized in my business. 

So, what to do in LR? This could be an entire series of blog posts right here. Editing and presets, holy moly that is just too much to cover today. So I'll keep it to the most significant things for me. SMART CATEGORIES. FILE ORGANIZATION. KEYWORDING

I'm not going to get into the details of why i keep just one catalog (mostly laziness) or why I organize my files the way I do (I'm anal about dates!), but I do think it's important to talk about smart collections. I have these set up so I use a rating system. When I get my film scans back, I match my digital files (if I keep any), and then export for upload to their gallery on Shootproof. I set it up so those exported images are automatically imported into the catalog. I then go through them, rename them into my sequence I prefer, and start rating. I go through and rate any images I feel I'd like to go in their blog post a 3. If they have prepaid for an album, or I'm designing an album for them to encourage a sale, I will go back and see if there are any additional images I'd like to include in an album and rate them as a 1. ALL the 3's are going to automatically be included in the album folder! It's pretty great. I then go and export the "blog these" folder from LR and save it within that client's main folder on my drive. And the biggest hurdle to blogging is now over! And while that sounds like a lot of steps, it takes me about 1 minute to make my picks and export them to the client's sub-folder. Maybe 90 seconds if I'm feeling particularly indecisive. 

Because the catalog is mirroring your hard drive, any time you rename or move images or a folder within LR, it moves or renames then on the drive as well. I rarely go in Finder to look for an images. I know if it's recent with in the last 4 months, it's going to still be in my LR catalog. It's so easy to stay organized through LR. 

Keywording on import is crucial to me. I have metadata and keywords applied on every images imported into LR. I don't even have to think about it anymore.  Copyright is there, keywords for SEO are there. It's easy and important to do upon import. 

4. Blogstomp
I like to create diptychs for my vertical images when I blog them. This program makes that SO easy. YES, you can do this in LR. But because I'm so familiar with Blogstomp and the system works for me, I keep doing it this way. 

I go into the client's main folder, go to the sub-folder that my blog images were exported to and I drag them into Blogstomp. I have in my settings already set up different options for sizing and preferences. I have a setting for Squarespace (where my site is through) so I know my specs for image size there. Just click on your image, or select 2 images for a diptych, and click Stomp It! And done. So. Darn. Easy. Then it's just a simple drag into your blog post, schedule that for whatever date comes next on the blog calendar and voila. Blogging DONE. It doesn't have to be intimidating.

3. 17hats
There are so many client management options out there it's crazy. And it's overwhelming to start by randomly picking one. And if you're like me, you've done free trials for several of them but ended up just staring blankly at the screen as none of it made sense at first? That's where 17hats is different. It's really, really simple. AND affordable. But enough about that, what can it do for you?

Almost everything. Thats what. It keeps me on task. It makes me work faster. It reminds me that I need to get to the post office to drop off the film from the weekends sessions, and it keeps me on track to prepare the blog post and where my contracts are. 

During the time where I'm waiting for scans to come back from my lab, that's when it's easy to forget what needs to be done next for a client. Because sometimes, there's nothing to do while waiting. Since I don't edit my digital images (except maybe one favorite to post to social media), I'm not really continuing with that client's workflow until scans come in. But then, 17hats reminds me to upload to Shootproof, send the email, make my blog selections, schedule the blog post, follow up with the client, etc. There is an entire Workflows section where you can create templates for the different sessions you do. I have one for family, newborn, empowerment, and weddings. They are all different because there is often different communication needed for each session. It might take a day to set up your workflow templates, but once you do it's so easy to stay on task.


So. Now what? Don't be overwhelmed. Be motivated and relieved that there are systems already out there for you to use! You don't have to reinvent the wheel! Stick with what works, but if you were nodding your head furiously with my questions at the beginning about being up to your eyeballs, then stop and take a minute to think whether any of these things could help you moving forward. 

That was a lot of info thrown at you, and you might have questions! Post them here! Or on the Little Bellows Facebook Forum. Or simply just give us a shout! And stay tuned, there is more workflow information coming in future posts!

Happy Monday Friends!
~ Meghan