There is so much that goes into a photography business, and throughout the years I have picked up on some things that have made my life waaaay easier. My time is a lot more manageable and streamlined than it was even 5 years ago, let me tell you! I put together a list of good programs that will hopefully help you in your photography business and save a lot of time for you!
Here’s what I got:
1. Adobe Lightroom Classic
Hands down, this is the program I spend most of my photography life in. This is where I do the bulk of my editing, and if you aren’t using it for your photography business, go check it out now! It’s really great for editing colors, contrast, exposure, cropping, and almost all of the work that needs to be done on photos. The really really great thing is that you can apply your edits to multiple images, creating a quick and consistent workflow. You can also use presets, which are saved adjustments that can be applied to any photo at a click of a button. There are tons of different companies where you can purchase presets to create a certain look, or you can make your own! I use my own presets to create a consistent, unique look and to speed up my process. (link is provided below in the Photoshop section)
2. Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop is a program I was using most of the time for years, and then over time I’ve used it less and less in favor of Lightroom. However, Photoshop is excellent for more fine tune work, like swapping eyes/heads or removing undesirable objects in the background. Lightroom has some features for this, but I prefer Photoshop sometimes because it provides more flexibility. Photoshop is a vast program and very in-depth (I’ve been using it almost my whole career and definitely feel that I only know about 40% of what it can do, which is still well enough for my needs!). I recommend checking out YouTube for lessons on how to do things in it, as it can be so overwhelming at first!
Adobe offers a subscription where you can download and use Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99/month. I feel this is an excellent service and WELL worth the price, because you have access to all the updates as they roll them out, plus other perks. You can check out their plans here and explore their options.
If you do use Photoshop frequently, AutoLoader is soooo helpful. I stumbled across this gem a long time ago, when I was still primarily using Photoshop. It’s a plugin that helps you open and save photos in Photoshop really quickly and easily. After you install it, you can assign it to pull up a photo in a specific folder by pressing a keyboard shortcut. Once you are finished with the photo, you can hit the shortcut again and it saves the photo to the assigned location and immediately pulls up the next photo in that folder. It doesn’t seem like it would make that much difference but it really saves time! You can find it here.
4. Photo Mechanic
I was in a world of painful time wasting before I found Photo Mechanic! Photo Mechanic is a program that helps cull photos, FAST. Inside the program, you can open the folder that you need to go through, and there is no need to import anything. You can then look through your photos real fast and select each one that you want using a color, tagging or rating system. You can then select all of the ones you choose, and drop them into Lightroom to start editing. I can go through thousands of wedding photos in about half an hour probably, whereas before it would take me houuurrsss to go through them all. Photo Mechanic also has other features like renaming photos really quick, copying them into new folders, or even cropping. I mainly use it for the culling feature, but it is definitely worth it to get. It is somewhat spendy but WELL worth it! Here is a link that will take you to the site.
I use Honeybook as my client management system for keeping track of my correspondence with my clients, and I really love it. You can send out contracts, get payments, use email templates, send questionnaires, manage your workflow, and more! It’s a pretty powerful tool so it can take a bit to learn, but they have a lot of tutorials and once you have it down it works really well. I was hesitant to pull the trigger at first because it’s pretty spendy, but there are a lot of discounts out there for the first year so you can try it out. Click here to get 20% off for a year subscription!
Pixieset is SO amazing for sending out client galleries!! It has a very beautiful setup, and it has loads of features for you to customize for each gallery. You can provide digital downloads, prints, a favorites gallery, and passwords, to name a few things. What really drew me to Pixieset is that you can organize the gallery into different categories so that clients can navigate it a little easier. I like to organize my weddings into sections like getting ready, ceremony, group/family photos, couple photos, reception, etc. You can even do a highlight section where it shows all your favorites when they open the gallery to give them a great first look. I have gone through a few different gallery sites in my time and Pixieset is by far my favorite. The only thing I don’t love is how pricey the unlimited storage plan is compared to other sites, but I’ve found that I don’t necessarily need that much space anyway. You can also create a website through Pixieset as well if you want to find an affordable website host. You can find a link to Pixieset here!
In early 2020 I redid my website, and I researched a LOT of different website hosting sites to find the best fit for me. I was looking for something that gave me a lot of flexibility to be creative that didn’t require a masters degree in coding (or any knowledge in coding haha!)! The limitations in other websites really frustrated me, because I felt like having a good website is an important tool. Enter Showit, a website hosting company that gives you so much freedom to move things around and does all the coding part for you. I chose to create my own website so I spent hours researching how to do it, but they have a lot of easy templates you can use that other people have created, and that you can change to fit your needs. Some templates are free while a lot you have to pay extra for, so that’s why I decided to build my own. The only thing I don’t like is that they don’t currently have the capability to provide a client gallery with downloads, hence the need to use Pixieset. I’m hopeful that in the future they will provide that as well. Here is where you can find and check out Showit!
8. Quickbooks Self Employed
This is great program for managing income, expenses, and everything business related, all in one place. You can access it as a website or through an app, which makes it really handy. Every time I get paid or have a business expense, I add it to the app so that I can keep track of all my business comings and goings. You can even link it to your business bank account so that it can help you track it even easier. It shows trends and how much I’ve made that month or that year, and you can compare it to the previous year or months. I haven’t used this feature yet, but it also can import your information into TurboTax when you do your taxes. I also really love that it can track your miles so you don’t have to. Here is a good link to Quickbooks Self Employed.
These programs have helped so incredibly much in my journey to create a successful photography business, and are things I definitely wish I had known about a lot earlier on!