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My portrait workflow

March 10, 2012

Many photographers have a workflow of sorts that they use to keep up with their portraits and weddings daily. When I first started my business I didn’t have a workflow, at least now one that I had written down and followed for each and every portrait session. One of my resolutions this year was to become more organized and when my business started growing near the end of 2011 it only made sense for me to come up with workflow that worked for me.

I did my research, looked at several photographers’ workflows on their blogs, and what I found was that each photographer took a few key points that were obvious (back up images, editing, emailing, etc) and then added tasks that were more specific to their style and business. This system of drawing up a workflow really made to sense to me. No one photographer is exactly like the other, just like no one business is exactly like the other. Why should photography workflows but cookie-cutter?

I sat down with a piece of paper and a pen and started writing down the key tasks that were required of all photographers…choose location, shoot session, import and back up images, edit images, back up images, and ship disc of images to client.

I used the few photographers’ workflows for inspiration and guidance but after the above was listed I started thinking about me and my business. The number one purpose of a workflow is to make sure that not even one task is missed for any client. At the same time, however, I wanted to make each and every portrait client feel special. I want them to know that they’re not just another portrait session to me. Below is the list of tasks I’m currently working with now as apart of my portrait workflow.

– Input client into database
– Email portrait questionnaire and information PDF
– Receive questionnaire
– Choose location(s)
– Confirm session information (locations, time, number of people, etc.)
– Shoot session
– Receive session fee in full
– Import images
– Back up the images
– Deposit session fee in bank
– Cull through images
– Color correct a few favorites for sneak peek
– Retouch a few favorites for sneak peek
– Share sneak peek on Facebook
– Email client about sneak peek on Facebook
– Color correct all images
– Retouch all images
– Back up all images
– Upload all images to online gallery
– Email client with link to gallery and instructions
– Pre-design products according to client’s favorites
– Email client about prints and products with link to pre-design album
– Receive client’s prints and products order
– Order prints and products
– Email client with Thank You, prints and products total, and timeline for order
– Blog my favorites from the session
– Receive payment for prints and products
– Deposit payment in bank
– Burn images to a disc
– Receive prints and products
– Package disc, prints, and products
– Ship or deliver disc, prints, and products
– Email client with a follow up to ensure everything is good with their order and info about referral program

I work best with a check list so once my tasks were decided I set down to Pages and created something that I could print out and add to each client’s section in my three ring binder (I have one for portraits and one for weddings). I added my brand to the design in Pages to look custom, just for my business. This is definitely one of those things in the photography business that benefits from my background in design. Here is a snap shot of what the page looks like after being printed on card stock.

At the beginning of ever year I will revisit my workflow tasks and based off of the year before, I’ll decide what worked and what didn’t and change it as I see fit. A business should not be static but dynamic, ever-changing with the times. What works this year might not work next year.