A Photographers Guide to Thrive During Wedding Season Part 1: Client Management & Photography Gear
When I was first starting to do photography, I borrowed my sister’s camera, emailed or texted my client, stumbled thru asking for payment, and edited for 3 hours for 50 photos on a free program (what’s up Picasa!), and then mailed them a flash drive. It was time-consuming, my laptop often crashed, and only partially enjoyable (read: I cried when I lost some of my work.)
A decade later, I am coming home after 8-hour wedding days singing in the car and editing at my fastest speed (edited a wedding in 5 hours!). My workflow, like my wardrobe, has streamlined and evolved for the better (a capsule wardrobe has been the way to go!) This one’s for you, the young creative kid just starting out, or you the mompreneur wanting to start your side-hustle or you the groom who does photography as a hobby and is curious about how I’m going to photograph you and your gal. I am taking my best practices from the last 10 years (which obvi disclaimer, is not at all exhaustive and I’m continually learning) and sharing it with you because sometimes I too go to Google and know I need knowledge and I’m not even sure what to type (sometimes I wish I could say, “ok, Google, what do I want to eat for dinner?”). Let me be your bestie and show you what has helped me.
For this part one lemme give the 411 on Client Management and Gear and in the next post I’ll write about my editing workflow.
So firstly, when I get an inquiry via Instagram, Facebook, theKnot, text message, or street hollahs (literally was shooting my gal @lizletchford in Cow Hollow the other day when a delivery man asked me to photograph his headshots for his rap album), I put that inquiry into Honeybook by asking for their email address and then sending them my brochure for that project. When they inquire via the contact form on my website, it becomes an automatic lead on my dashboard. From there I can send them messages, invoices, timelines, questionnaires (you can peep my sample questionnaire here), proposals, my calendar and more. They are fairy godmothers who continually add features. This has been mentally an escape from Alcatraz. Because one, it puts everything in one place (previously I used HelloSign for contracts, Shootproof for invoices, Apple Mail for communication, Google Docs for PDFs aka it was way too much software all over the internet) and secondly, it has read receipts so I know whether to follow up with them because they’ve read it or if I need to call them because it’s found its way into the spam folder. Also bonus? I starting receiving tips for my services. I heart that on Honeybook invoices there’s a tip option. Honestly, Honeybook paid for itself in just two gigs from tip money #yestotheserviceindustry. And I am so so fortunate to have the HB team as some of my best SF buds (they’re snack & kombucha game is on point at athe office). I told them I was writing this post and they’re giving you all an exclusive discount of 50% off your annual fee. And I’m telling you, you’ll make it back in tips. Promise: http://share.honeybook.com/hdMPB.
Secondly, I’ve stopped shopping and have narrowed it down to the gear I really loved shooting with. Others use lenses with varying focal lengths but I love primes. And the Sigma Art series passes the Canon L series by far. My go-to’s are the Sigma 24mm & 50mm and in my bag, I keep a 35mm. I use lens attachments for macro shots and an ND filter for some sunny outdoor shots. I have 2 Canon 5D Mark iii camera bodies (p.s. I’m selling one of them for $1349!) but I rely mostly on and can do a lot with just one. To balance light I use Pocket Wizards Flex’s and 2 580 exIIs and 1 light stand and sometimes my octobox. I pack my laptop and LaCie Rugged external drive and iPad for sneak peaks and a quick edit (more of this in Part 2). I carry everything in 2 backpacks because I live in the city and I don’t have the closet real estate for a pelican case haha. I exclusively use Lexar 32mb SD cards that are the quickest (1000x at 950/mbs). They have a 99% success rate whereas before I was buying a ton of other cards that suckeddddd. I try to store my data in 3 places so I use a new card every time (I also store the images on my external drive and DropBox, again more on this in Part 2).
And guys, I also pack and use foam boards. Like foam boards for white whites for flat lays and also for reflectors. The hack is making corner ones to reflect back like this BTS shot. Also, I always carry sticky tack. Because rolling objects. Also because something to play with #foreverinelementary.
Oh and not photographed that’s always in my bag nowadays? Some electrolytes for energy! Nuun tablets have been my fave thus far.
Stay tuned for my editing workflow that I’ll post next week!