7 Secrets of Extremely Productive Wedding Photographers
As wedding photographers, we do so many things, that we are often tired and unproductive. We spend a lot of time post processing, meeting clients, blogging, posting on social media, learning new techniques and the list is endless.
What if I told you there is another way? Here are 7 secrets that will make you extremely productive while working less to feel happier and more rested. Keep reading!
Introduction: Productivity is a Virtuous Cycle
Here is the truth: the more productive you are, the less you work, the more rested and creative you are. As a result, the more productive you are! Let's call this the virtuous productivity cycle. If you embrace it, you will be successful!
1. Prioritize Goals and Allocate Your Time Accordingly
According to Abraham Lincoln, "if you have 8 hours to cut a tree, spend 6 of those sharpening your axe."
Planning can seem a waste of time when you have to answer to tens of emails, cull thousands of photos and meet three couples a day. However, setting and prioritizing your goals will help you achieve them faster.
Make sure you spend your working hours according to your priorities. Here is the secret: when I did the following exercise, I realized I was spending precious time on tasks totally unrelated to my goals.
Say here are your top 5 goals over the next 2 years:
- Become a better wedding photographer
- Master Photoshop
- Blog more often
- Be more active on social media
- Learn how to sell
Start tracking your working hours and make sure you spend most of your time on activities that will help you achieve these goals. You will be surprised!
2. Set SMART Goals
The SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result Oriented and Time-bound.
Setting a goal such as "Become a better wedding photographer" is vague and meant to fail. How do you know when you achieved it? A much better goal is "In 4 years, win 30 international wedding photography awards."
Such objectives meet all the characteristics of the SMART goals. As such, you will definitely know if you achieved them.
3. Have Mini Goals and Set Short Term Deadlines
Let's look at our first SMART objective: "In 4 years, win 30 international wedding photography awards." This is a daunting task in itself. Where do you start?
Here is a trick. Break every goal into more manageable targets and set short term deadlines such as: "In 6 months win 2 international awards". To make sure you complete your task, find accountability partners and inform them of your mini goals and deadlines. Your partners could be other wedding photographers, your spouse, best friend, etc.
Don't forget to celebrate once you achieve a milestone.
4. The OHIO Principle and the Perfectionist Photographer
The OHIO principle states that you should "Only Handle It Once" and it refers to low priority tasks. How often did you spend three hours on a wedding picture to make it perfect? In the meantime, you didn't return the call to a bride and groom that wanted to book you.
Stop the urge of being perfect when it is totally unnecessary. I know! Everybody told you in wedding photography, attention to detail is key. Still, not all details are equal! Stop obsessing over irrelevant tasks that won't help your business.
Do you think the bride and groom really care if the white balance is 5600 or 5300 kelvin? For your clients, the way you capture their wedding day, your turnaround times and presenting yourself as a professional photographer are way more important than a perfect skin tone.
What's the bottom line? If it's good enough for your family, it should be good enough for your clients. Stop being an obsessive perfectionist!
5. Write Efficiently
Blogging is becoming very important in becoming known to the next bride and groom though it has little to do with wedding photography.
I know many professional photographers who refuse to write even one word because they don't know where to start. As a result, they never grow their business and eventually become miserable.
These days, you have to blog! Period!
To become a better writer, find a quiet time and create a writing workflow. For everybody, the process is different, but there are common steps such as idea gathering, creating and refining the structure of the article and editing your work.
In the "idea gathering" stage, you should work uninterrupted in a quiet environment without distractions such as cell phone, kids, client calls etc.
Here's the deal: shut down your phone and spend an hour in your office writing down all the ideas related to the article. If you're not familiar with the subject, do some research. This first step should take about 40% of your time.
The second step requires you to categorize the ideas, group them into paragraphs and write the article. This step should take 20% of your time.
The final step in your writing process should be editing your work. Read the article a few times, fix the typos, grammar mistakes, etc. I highly recommend using tools such as grammarly and HemingwayApp. Ask your or friends to read your articles and give you honest, constructive feedback.
Over time, you will become a more efficient writer. Based on discussions with other professionals, they went from writing an average article in eight hours to creating amazing content in two hours.
I know! You would rather do ten engagement sessions or deal with an extremely difficult bridal party than write an article. Me too!
However, in today's competitive wedding photography industry, we have to be masters of all trades! Everything is important, from answering emails quickly, to designing award winning wedding albums, to developing a unique shooting style our couples will love.
My discussions with colleagues revealed that we are not that creative as we think we are. Many photographers confessed they have no idea what topics to write about.
That is the easiest part: look at the news, talk about extraordinary wedding days, write about your preferred wedding venues, etc. Start reading wedding blogs and magazines. You will get plenty of related ideas.
6. A List of Shots Will Make You More Efficient
Working smart is way more important than working hard. That is why the best wedding photographers in the world deliver a large number of great images even when they cover a short event.
Have a clear action plan you execute on the wedding day. Most top photographers follow a clear formula. Once you know what to shoot and master a multitude of techniques, you become more efficient...and relaxed.
Interestingly enough, great artists spend very little time processing the images because they know what and how to shoot. They focus on emotions and masterfully tell the story of the wedding day.
According to masters of photography, they learned to follow a shot list early in their careers. Their "do or die" shot list includes portraits of the bride and groom and the wedding party, family photos, the first kiss, the ring exchange, candid shots of the guests and the family, the cake cutting, the bouquet and garter toss, etc.
By focusing on the essence of the big day, the masters are able to deliver classic photography in a short amount of time. That's why their wedding packages often start at $10,000 plus travel expenses.
Want to be successful? Follow their formula and the sky is the limit.
Sadly, many artists, including the former myself value long working hours over productivity. At the beginning of my career I used to spend three weeks processing a wedding while the most successful studios deliver the same quality in 2-3 hours.
Just imagine I used to shoot destination weddings when I was gone for a week and spent three more weeks editing the images. That was crazy!
It gets even better! I used include an engagement photo shoot in my packages. It is now obvious why my photography business was going nowhere...I was confusing being active with being good.
7. Maintain a Healthy Work Life Balance
We live in a biased society that values effort over results. If you worked in the private sector, you used to put a lot of extra hours to be promoted.
Many of the corporate employees are burnt out and have frequent panic attacks because of the extreme number of hours they spend in the office. They often neglect their families and are sleep deprived.
You know something? Studies show that lack of sleep reduces productivity and creativity even more than alcohol consumption. Do you see how huge this is?
Work smarter and build a successful photography business by being more efficient. Your clients, family and bank account will thank you!