10 Ways to Increase Photography Workflow and Stay Productive
Nadir Balcikli
I have always built my life around efficiency and productivity. It came naturally me to me as a Type A individual and the first-born in my family. When it came time to run a photography business, being efficient and productive was more important than ever. Over the past 10 years, my workflow has certainly changed and evolved.

If you are just beginning, this may take some trail and error, especially if you are working through different programs and filing methods. If you have had your business for a while, it may be more difficult to take a step back and analyze your workflow process. You may think you are working efficiently, however just a few gaps in your process may be minimizing the amount of work you can get done in a period of time.

Here are 10 ways to increase your productivity through an effective workflow:

1. Eliminate distractions

As I’m writing this, I got a notification from Facebook. Argh! If you really want to sit down and plow through a bunch of emails and image edits in a timely manner, find a way to focus on the task at hand. This may mean shutting down all social media sites, turning off the TV, and putting your phone on silent.

2. Organize your files and folders.

Setting up an organized file system, both paper and electronic, saves you so much time in the long run. You aren’t wasting time searching for images or files, since you have a specific place for them already.

As an example, I have a folder for images that need to be culled and/or edited, separated into subfolders for each session. Once that session is edited, I transfer those images to my back-up hard drive. I export the edited images to another folder, again separated into subfolders for each session. I also archive my sessions each year, so I can easily find them if I ever need to go back and find images for a client.

This is just one small part of my workflow, but it gives you an example of how being organized can help save you time.

3. Set goals for “working time.”

I have 4 children, 2 of which are young and stay at home with me during the day. Sometimes, all the work I can get in during the day is during naptime, which lasts maybe an hour in my household. I’m obviously not going to start some huge task that will take at least a few hours. Maybe my goal for that hour will be to cull through a session. Or, maybe I spend that hour responding to emails.

You can knock a few small tasks off your list in a short amount of time, whereas with a larger amount of time, you can tackle a more intensive project. Setting realistic goals for the time allotted to work helps with productivity.

4. Create a list

I still write out my lists by hand. In fact, I have a little Post-It note dispenser right next to my computer. Even though it is more environmentally friendly to do it electronically, there is something satisfying about throwing away a piece of paper after I have crossed everything off.

A list keeps you on task, and it especially helps when you have multiple tasks across different areas of your work (emails, photos, taxes, etc.). Furthermore, it doesn’t matter where you have a list! It can be on your computer, smart phone, or on multiple Post-It notes on your desk. Ha!

5. Focus on consistency and habits

The more you do the same task and process, the more it becomes second nature. If you constantly change up your process/workflow or do not have a set process, there will be no consistency to help you get through your work smoothly and efficiently.

That all being said, it is easy to get into the same routine time and time again once you have set your workflow process. Be mindful of the fact that it is OK to change things up if you find a better way to get through your work. Which leads me to my next point…

6. Be flexible and willing to change for better efficiency

While being in the industry for nearly 10 years, a lot has changed. Keeping up-to-date with those changes has helped keep my workflow from becoming stagnant.

For instance, up until a few years ago, I did all of my culling in Adobe Lightroom. I was uploading hundreds and hundreds of images, clogging up my storage and the application. It was taking FOREVER to cull and sort through the images. Then, another photographer mentioned a program called Photo Mechanic that she started using for culling her images. Once I gave it a try, it revolutionized my workflow process. And, this was all because I was willing to try something new and take a step outside of my normal process.

This ties in directly with my next tip…

7. Cull images in Photo Mechanic

The day I discovered Photo Mechanic was the day that changed my photo culling process forever. I used to cull in Lightroom, but it was slow and inefficient. I would be importing all of the images that were eventual throw-aways. It was such a waste of space and a waste of my time.

Photo Mechanic does so much more than culling, but it is especially powerful for sorting through images after a shoot. You can color code each image with one of several different colors, or star them if you prefer that method. It handles a high number of images seamlessly. This was by far one of the best changes I made to my workload, and you should, too!

8. Use Adobe Lightroom for 95% of your editing

Adobe Photoshop is great for many things, but batch editing isn’t one of them. Lightroom is designed to help import, process, and export images quickly and easily. Save yourself time and edit your images in a clean and consist way by using Lightroom vs. Photoshop.

9. Keep your computer running efficiently

There are multiple articles out there regarding keeping your computer running efficiently for you while you are using it for your work. For those of you working off a Mac, I have referenced a great article from Business Insider with 13 Ways to Make Your Mac Run Faster Right Now.

If you are working off a PC, WikiHow has a great article, titled How to Keep Your PC Running Fast and Smooth.

At the end of the day, if your computer is quicker at processing, it will shave time off of your workload.

10. Workflow and Sales Tracking

My Workflow and Sales Tracking Tool (affiliate) lays out your clients, workflow process, and session and print order sales. If you are just starting off, this is a fantastic way to help you streamline your workflow and get you going on the right path to an efficient workflow.

If you have an established photography business, this Workflow and Sales Tracking Tool can help you, too! Do you have a system in place for tracking your clients and your sales? How about something that helps you track with what you have left to complete for a client, such as culling, editing, or blogging? Do you have a clean list of all of your client’s information? If not, the Workflow and Sales Tracking Tool can help streamline your workflow effectively and efficiently!

Check out all of the business products for your photography business at my website, The Photographer’s Dream House (affiliate). We have legal documents, pricing workbooks, and other business tools to help your photography business!