As a photographer, whether you’re a wedding photographer or a fashion photographer or a family photographer or something totally different, you wear a LOT of hats. After all, that’s honestly why so many of us love our jobs as much as we do, right? We get to balance between being everything from artists to storytellers to editors, and it’s such an incredible thing to do.
But, wearing a lot of hats also comes with having a lot of steps — all of which are equally as important as the next. And, when you have a lot of steps, it’s super important to make sure that you can balance and manage them well. Otherwise, everyone ends up confused and frazzled — you, your team, AND your clients.
This is where one of my favorite things of all time comes into play: a well-structured photography workflow.
See, creating a really solid workflow is exactly how you can make your life easier, your processes more consistent, and your client experience as excellent as possible. There’s nothing I recommend more than workflows to my fellow photographers and students, and for so many reasons. Why? Because I didn’t actually build my own workflow for YEARS, but once I did? It changed everything. Everything.
Here’s all you need to know about building a photography workflow.
What exactly is a photography workflow?
So first off, let’s break down what a photography workflow actually is, yeah? I like to explain it as a step-by-step blueprint of each and every task you do as a photographer that you can repeat for every client and project. See, without a workflow, it’s so easy to get bogged down by tasks and feel like you can’t ever get on top of your day-to-day tasks. With a workflow, though, you can know what’s due (and when), who’s in charge of what, and what’s coming next.
And, when you map out a repeatable workflow, you’ll be able to spend your headspace on things that actually move the needle in your business, instead of scratching your head to remember whether or not you sent over a contract or a package of files. It is the biggest game changer, and it allows you to be a proactive, rested, productive business owner — instead of a reactive, stressed, frazzled one.
How to create your photography workflow
At Almond Leaf Studios, workflows are quite literally a way of life. We have a master workflow that we can repeat and apply to every single project we have, which lets us assign the right tasks to the right people and make sure we’re building the most wonderful client experience possible for the people who trust us with their weddings. I always say I wish I’d done it sooner, because it’s not as hard as it sounds to start! All you need to do at first is sit down and write it out, pen and paper style.
Starting from the second someone reaches out with an inquiry and going all the way to your client check-in email post-image delivery, write every single task you do down. No step is too small here — if you have found yourself repeating the same step for a shoot or a client more than once, write it down. You’ll probably start to pretty instantly see how you can start automating some of these processes (hellloooo, template emails), and you’ll be able to see any holes in your client process as a whole.
Once you’ve written down your workflow, you can create your own master photography workflow. Our Almond Leaf Studio team has two workflows that we constantly reference: our pre-event workflow (which starts the second a client books with us), and a post-event workflow (which doesn’t end until a gift has been sent and we’ve asked for testimonials). I’m a huge fan of putting workflows into online platforms to make them easier — we use ClickUp for ours! — but it’s all about finding what works for you, whether it’s working off of a collaborative Google Doc or trying out platforms like Honeybook.
My favorite photography workflow tips
Once you’ve written out your workflow and really defined your internal and client processes, you’ll want to really maximize what you can do with it. Here are some of my favorite photography workflow tips:
- Automate what you can: Some of the biggest things you’ll be surprised by when you write out your workflow are the amount of little, tiny tasks that you’re spending anything but little, tiny amounts of time on. Think: emails you always send, remembering to send over contracts, etc. Now, how can you make those easier on yourself and your team? Can you write templates for your emails so that you can pull from them each time? Can you invest in a platform like ClickUp that automatically sends the right emails and contracts? Use your workflow process to boost your efficiency!
- Delegate tasks, one by one: As you start building your workflow and breaking each step into a task that you need to check off, it’s a lot easier to see what you can delegate to someone else! If you already have support in the form of a VA or other team members, go ahead and assign tasks — it’s that easy. If you haven’t yet brought on support, though, this is the perfect time. You can start slow (just one task at a time), and integrate new team members into the process more and more as you feel comfortable and ready.
- Find little ways to elevate your client experience: While your photography workflow will 100% make your life easier, it can also make a massive difference to the experience your clients have — and that is so, so important! Within your workflow, intentionally find openings where you can add more luxurious touches to your client experience (or, intentionally create those openings). Take the time to send beautiful client gifts, make sure you’re providing an incredibly friendly, kind, and organized communication process, and send out beautiful additions like branded client magazines and welcome packets that will further encourage album sales and print sales.
Okay, friends… there you have it — my ultimate, favorite steps for creating workflows that actually give you space and time to grow your business. After all, your job as a photographer is to do your best to tell stories, capture memories, and still have time to live your life. By creating a photography workflow, you can make space in your own business while elevating everyone’s processes, too — and what could be better than that?
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