Behind every successful studio, there is a successful workflow. As a photography business grows, there is generally a lot of trial and error when it comes to workflow, software systems and efficiency. No need to try/fail/change/do over anymore... Below, you'll find a list of the software and tools that we use to keep our studio running smoothly!
Adobe Lightroom CC
Adobe Lightroom is our exclusive editing tool for all images from LRP. We complete all color correction, basic retouching and batch editing using Lightroom exclusively. Learning hotkeys and how to batch edit using the various tools available in Lightroom makes this an efficient and effective editing tool.
Photo Mechanic is a sanity-saver! Instead of importing images directly into Adobe Lightroom, we first start our workflow (after backing everything up!) by importing into Photo Mechanic and using this tool for all of our initial culling and sorting. The hotkeys available make this such a breeze, and images do not need a few seconds to render individually, unlike Lightroom. If you are not already using this tool, USE IT. It will save you so much time! Then all you have to do is import your selections into Lightroom, keeping your LR Catalog light and efficient.
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17hats is literally the bread and butter of just about everything we do when it comes to client interaction before and after the wedding day! We use the 17hats studio management system for everything from lead management, to questionnaires, contracts, invoices, quotes, bookkeeping and more. They even have a handy app that allows us to immediately read new leads, check on client workflow, look up questionnaires and more, right from our smartphones. We LOVE how much easier 17hats has made our lives... and keeps us organized!
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Animoto is the underrated SUPERSTAR of our workflow arsenal. We use Animoto to create client photo slideshows for every wedding client, along with lifestyle portrait reveal slideshows. Animoto is also used to create easy promotional videos that we can put up on our website or social media. It has an incredible easy to use interface, and the best part -- they include music licensing, via their own library and a partnership with TripleScoop Music! Not only do our clients LOVE their slideshows, but it adds tremendous value to their overall experience, by actually allowing them to EXPERIENCE their photos, instead of just swiping through an online gallery.
Two Bright Lights
Two Bright Lights is such a great tool for allowing photographers and other creatives to submit their work for publication -- easily and in a very organized fashion! Blog and magazine submissions help us to build brand awareness and help with SEO, all while helping us bring prospective clients to our work through publication. We LOVE that we can always see the status of our publication submissions, and our vendor partners are also notified when we share images for publication!
When it comes to creating a website, most people prefer SIMPLE and easy to use! Squarespace has allowed us to create, maintain and add content to our site and blog SO easily! Everything is WYSIWYG - What you see is what you get. If we want to update something on a page, we can make that happen in seconds! If we want to rearrange a gallery or blog post -- voila -- done in seconds!
We've been using PASS to share most all of our wedding and engagement client galleries for over 6 years now. This easy-to-use photo gallery service offers us peace of mind -- our images are backed up and accessible to our clients for 10 YEARS! While many photo sharing platforms limit your storage capacity, PASS allows you to purchase on a monthly subscription basis, or for individual galleries. We LOVE how easy this makes sharing images with our clients and vendor friends! And it automatically acts as an additional, redundant backup in our photo backup workflow. We are also able to easily catalog and break down the various parts of our clients' days for easy reference in the future.
While PASS is an AMAZING solution for us for weddings and engagements, we wanted to offer a more tailored approach for our portrait and lifestyle family photography clients. Pixieset allows us to customize which products we're offering in our online galleries, as well as offer prints, wall art and canvas directly through our watermarked gallery. When we offer model calls, it also allows us to limit individual photo downloads, and look pretty great in the process with its clean, customizeable interface.
When it comes to serving our clients, Swift Galleries has been a game changer for us. Instead of "guessing" which size canvas a client needs, we can show them a mock up of sizes, with their images! It's incredible to see the side-by-side comparison of a 16x24 canvas up against a 30x40 canvas and its impact on a room. Even better, it allows us to save money by not constantly printing new "samples" and instead using Swift Galleries as a "green" alternative, with a digital display of their wall art layout.
Google G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Business)
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G Suite by Google allows us such incredible flexibility for managing our business. From Gmail to Google Drive, to using spreadsheets for client timelines, and Google Voice to keep a separate business phone line for our studio that still rings to our cell phones... G Suite is a no-brainer for any small business -- at $5/month per user, we have a custom email address to match our website domain and of course, Google's huge ecosystem of products works on any device... making it crazy easy to run our business and stay organized!
For night owls like us, Boomerang is SUCH AN INCREDIBLE (and FREE!) TOOL! We use this as an add-on to Gmail, via an extension to Google Chrome. What is this Boomerang, you might ask? Well, it allows us to SCHEDULE when we want an email to be sent! Instead of our clients receiving an email from us at 2:45am (which is when this blog post is being written), we can schedule it to be sent at 8:30am... a much more acceptable time to communicate! It also has a feature to allow you to automatically follow-up if no reply is received after a certain time frame. LOVE BOOMERANG!
If you're not already tracking your web traffic, you should take a look and utilize Google's free Analytics tool! Not only can you see which parts of your site are receiving the most traffic, you can also identify where your weaknesses are (ie - bounce rate) and how far into your site your visitors get before they drop off. This might be a huge eye opener for some! There is also a wonderful Google Chrome extension that will display a "heat map" of sorts, where you can actually see hard data on where your site visitors are clicking! Or maybe you are running a new social media campaign and you want to see what your traffic is like in real time? Check out Google Analytics!
We touched on this a bit already, but we've been using Google Voice for YEARS! All client phone communication flows through this number, via Google Voice. No need to pay the phone company for an expensive extra line!! Google Voice is FREE! We have a separate Google Voice number that acts as a screen between us and callers, instead of giving out our cell phone or home phone numbers. We can set up custom voicemail, allow the phones to ring only at certain times of day, and we have an automatic archive of all calls, texts and voicemails that come to this number!
When it comes to albums, KISS books are simply gorgeous. They offer simple size and color options, as well as upgrades for embossing, a keepsake box, and more. We love that we can offer two different types of albums, at different price points, to our clients... instead of using two different companies. They offer so many beautiful colors of leather and linen, and best of all, they are all handcrafted right here in the USA (Indiana!).
SmartAlbums 2.0 with Cloud Proofing
All of our albums are designed in SmartAlbums... we're able to create new album drafts in minutes! It's so easy to create new designs, and work off of album company-specific sizing templates, so exporting for print is super easy! SmartAlbums now offers a Cloud Proofing service that we love. Our clients can see our designs, and all album images are numbered and clients can leave image-specific feedback -- no printouts required! Everything is done online.
When it comes to Instagram, I've found that Planoly makes my social media life 100000x easier! I love the simple-to-use interface available BOTH on desktop and on mobile (instead of doing everything via my phone for Instagram!). I can "plan" out my Instagram layout, pre-type all of my posts and hashtags and "schedule" my posts to remind me on my phone when it's convenient for me to post. Instead of 5-10 minutes per post, I can now spend 15 seconds when it's actually time for me to confirm and post. A HUGE time-saver and worth paying for one of the paid plans to have unlimited uploads!