Running a successful photography business is a juggling act. There’s so much more to it than simply taking pictures. Without a solid business plan and an efficient workflow, it’s easy for photographers to become overwhelmed.
Wedding photographer Vanessa Joy has her wedding photography workflow down to a science. In this master class, she discusses how she runs her business before, during, and after each wedding:
Joy’s system is efficient. She incorporates organization, marketing, and quality into each step of her workflow. These are some of her tips for saving time:
- Work toward hiring an assistant. There’s just too much work for one person to do alone in a scalable wedding photography business. An assistant can help you during all stages of a wedding by being a second set of eyes and hands to get your work done in the best possible way.
- Create a system for your client meetings. Have a rough script that you use to sell yourself and build credibility.
- Use email templates. You probably spend a lot of time needlessly typing similar messages to different clients. Joy uses a program called TextExpander to create templates for the emails she sends to clients throughout the wedding experience.
- Email your FAQ list to every client. Most wedding clients have the same concerns and curiosities. Save time by keeping the most frequently asked questions and your responses on hand.
- Make a wedding day schedule. If there is no wedding planner, you’re the wedding planner. Get on the same page with your clients so both you and they know what is happening and when and how much time is allotted for photo shoots.
- Get the right gear. Purchase your equipment with intention. Joy has a purpose for everything in her camera bag. She uses a Canon 1D Mark IV camera, a Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens, Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens, Canon 135mm f/2.0 lens, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens, and a Sigma 70mm f/2.8 Macro lens for her ring shots. She also brings along Canon 580EX II flashes, light stands, battery packs, Radio Poppers, a 5-in-1 reflector, and a Dedo Video Light.
- Shoot RAW files and JPEGs. Joy saves RAW files to a Compact Flash card and medium size JPEGs to a SanDisk 16GB card. By saving this way, she has JPEGs to use for same-day surprises like slide shows, and RAW files for her final products.
- Satisfy your clients’ need for instant gratification. When you provide same-day slideshows and albums, you’re marketing to all the potential clients at the wedding as well as getting work done during the reception. This means you’ll have less work to do on Monday.
- Cull in-camera. Though some photographers say that deleting files in-camera can cause issues with file corruption, Joy says she’s never had a problem, and since she uses a two-memory card system, she always has a backup. She instructs her second shooters to cull in-camera, as well. This reduces the time she spends browsing through files to get to the keepers.
- Outsource tasks you hate, tasks that slow you down, and tasks that you’re just not good at. This might be color-correction, album design, or blogging. As long as the work being outsourced isn’t the most important part of your brand, it’s okay for someone else to do it. You can hire people to do your work or you can find relevant online services to streamline your processes.
- Keep a weekly schedule. Set aside particular days for client meetings, engagement sessions, preparing for shoots, designing albums, scheduling social media posts, etc.
- Reassess and tweak your workflow. Joy says her system is always changing for the better. Don’t be afraid to do something differently if it will save you time and keep your business running smoothly.
Knowing your strengths, delegating tasks to others, and striving to satisfy your clients are all parts of a sustainable wedding photography workflow. Vanessa Joy has used her experience to fine tune the way she runs her business. With the right focus, you can get everything done, wow your clients, and still have time to spend with your loved ones.