Ever had something happen that completely changed your life? At the time it may have even seemed small, but when you look back you saw major things set in motion after implementing a small change? This is that story. Being in business for a long time allows a lot of trial and error, and I have tried lots of things in my business that were both good and bad. Different equipment, different editing techniques, different software, different business models. But looking back at over 17 years in business and there are 3 small things that I can point to that made such a difference in my business. I can literally tell you the moment that they changed and exactly why. Read on to find out the 3 things that truly changed my photography business forever, and that could change yours too.
Back Button Focus
The year was 2009 and I had been in business for a couple of years. It was my second full wedding season out and I discovered the idea of back button focus, and I never went back to any other version of focusing. I wrote a whole post on why I use back button focus and how to set it up on your own camera, but suffice it to say that implementing this really small change actually made a HUGE difference in my business. Mostly because I felt like I had more control over my focus, I was no longer missing shots due to the lag of the focus motor, and in return I felt more confident every time I stepped out for a new session. Having confidence in what you are creating will change the way you approach your business, so this tiny little adjustment made a big big difference for me.
I did not make this changeover until somewhere in the mid 2010’s…2013 maybe? Before that I was relying heavily on my 24-70mm f/2.8—a beautiful workhorse lens. But the lens was physically heavy and I was starting to feel a little lazy with my creativity. So the changeover to all prime lenses was a big one. I kept the 24-70mm lens for a whole other season just in case I didn’t like what I was doing with having to switch prime lenses (that seemed scary at the time). But I soon found I was more intentional with my framing, more inventive with each shot, and more involved in the process of creating. I slowed down, which made a big difference in my interactions with my couples. I wasn’t always just shooting shooting shooting, and instead was creating, thinking, reframing, chatting—so many things that added to the experience of being a portrait and wedding photographer and with my clients’ experiences. Back a few months ago I wrote a post on why I changed over to prime lenses and even list my favorite 3 lenses that I can do almost everything with.
This is related to software (and no I do not make any money by recommending PM), but this one changed my editing life. Once I was shooting in RAW I realized a full day wedding with 2 photography yielded anywhere from 3000-5000 original images. That is a LOT of images to sort through. And with the size of those files increasing as the camera sensors got bigger my computer was just not processing the image previews fast enough. For every photo there was a 2-3 second lag before the photo sharpened up and I could see exactly what I was looking at. So 2+ seconds for each preview times 5k equals a lot of wait time! I was spending hours just to LOOK at the photos. It was killing me! Enter Photomechanic.
Photomechanic is just a browser and not an editor (but at the time I was looking at photos in Adobe Bridge and not Lightroom because that was even slower if you can believe it). The previews for all RAW’s show in less than a second in PM and you can fly through the original files, making quick decisions on which photos to keep. I also changed the “starring” of the photos to a one-button click instead of command + 1 and those 2 changes took hours off my culling process. Hours that I could then spend on more important business tasks, like editing or emailing, marketing or prepping for another session. Or…alternatively…more time for me with my friends and my family. Both equally more important than waiting hours just for image previews to show on my screen.
These 3 small but key additions changed my photography business and took it to the next level. One was technique (back button focus), one was equipment (prime lenses), and one was software for my workflow (Photomechanic). Technology is revolutionizing the way we do business but taking stock in things that feel good to you and not what everyone else is doing is going to help your business move forward. With the right mindset and a few key changes, you too can build a thriving and successful photography business. So go out and make it happen; find your voice and techniques that work for you, use the right tools to fuel your success, and make sure your business doesn’t take up all of your time. And never forget – a camera is only as powerful as the creator behind it.