Sometimes I’m amazed at all of the things that are required to run a success photography business. It just seems like a LOT of stuff! Obviously there are the essentials, like my camera, but beyond that, a lot of it is really quite personal. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different software, hardware, work methods, and other fun tools, but this is my list of things that I really couldn’t live without as a wedding and portrait photographer. I hope someone else finds this useful!
Sometimes I find it hard to believe I spent several years on my aging Macbook Pro laptop editing on that tiny little screen at that agonizingly slow pace. When I got my iMac in late 2011, I could kiss it, it was THAT awesome. I love this machine! It’s got a gigantic screen that makes editing so much easier. Plus, one nice little bonus is I can have two browser windows or applications open at the same time. So often while I’m writing up blog posts, I’ve got my favorite hulu channel playing at the same time 🙂 I’m due for an upgrade sometime soon, not because my iMac is failing me – it’s not! It’s merely because I like to have my main work computer be no more than 4 years old just to reduce the risk of hard drive issues.
My camera and lens
Well, of course I couldn’t be a photographer without a camera and a few lenses! I absolutely love the gear I have right now, and I’m finally in a place where I don’t really need anything else when it comes to major gear. Finally! If I really had to choose just one camera and one lens that I couldn’t live without, it would probably be my Nikon D750 and 85mm 1.4
The very first piece of editing software I owned was Lightroom 2. Wasaaaaaay back when in 2010? I’ve followed upgrades over the years and currently use Lightroom 5. And over those years, I’ve shifted more and more of my editing to just Lightroom. Do I use Photoshop? Yes. A bit. Mostly for skin retouching or object removal. Almost 100% of my wedding work is edited solely in Lightroom using presets that I have customized. For seniors, a great majority of the editing I do is in Lightroom. It’s easy fast and does the job well. I couldn’t do photography without it.
I’ve really made the go around for album design software in the last 5 years. Starting off with buying templates for Photoshop (I still use these for personal albums and engagement guestbooks on occasion), then using Photojunction made by Queensberry for quite a while. I still have some templates for them, and every once in a while I use those if needed. I actually started looking for new options just this last year, because PJ was just taking too much time to use. And I didn’t want to outsource. I tried out both Fundy Album design and Smart Albums, and Smart Albums won by a mile for me. So so easy and WAY quicker than anything else I’d ever used. It’s amazing to be able to design an entire album in 15 mins! And that is not an exaggeration. I can design a 30 page album in 15 minutes – that’s just CRAZY! Here’s just two of the spreads I designed for a recent wedding I photographed this past winter.
I didn’t start using a studio organization system until 2011. At that time, my business was small, but expanding very quickly. I explored a few other options, but Pixifi had all the features I needed, and the price was right. Fast forward to now, and I’m still loving it! There are features being added constantly that make my life easier and help me book clients efficiently and communicate easily. It’s streamlined so much for me. I’m a huge fan!
Up until about 3 years ago, I always shared an office workspace with other people. Whether it was college roommates or eventually, my husband. And all of them tended to listen to music while working, with small exceptions made here or there. Since I’ve moved into my own office space in or home (and actually, back to sharing a space with my husband, though we are never using it at the same time), I’ve discovered that I enjoy working with quiet. Yep, I edit and cull and Facebook post and email in utter silence. I’m sure some people would hate this, but I LOVE it. Perhaps I enjoy the stillness because as a mom, much of my day is filled with constant requests from my near 3 year-old and so my work time is a nice quiet break just for me! I find that I’m much more efficient and productive if it’s quiet.
There is absolutely no way I could do what I do as a photographer without the encouragement and support as my husband. He was actually the main person to push me to start exploring a legitimate business when I first started getting more inquiries and requests in 2010. It was his idea to set aside a bit of my monthly paycheck to save up for business needs like equipment and a website. And he walked alongside me throughout my looooooong process of deciding to leave my former job and focus on photography full time. I really wouldn’t be where I am today without him.
Even more so, I couldn’t actually photograph anything without him. Truly. When I’m out shooting, almost 95% of the time, he is taking care of our son. I don’t know how many Saturday’s my husband has given up focused time working in the garden, catching up on grading (he’s a professor), or doing something else fun in order for me to be gone for a 10 hour wedding shoot or 3 hour senior shoot. It’s a LOT. Thankfully, our son greatly enjoys daddy days and has a blast “helping” dad do all sorts of things, but I know my husband would be so much more productive if I was around to distract our little guy for a bit here and there 🙂
I’m sure there’s lots of other essentials I could put on my list…my camera bag, batteries, good shoes…but really, these are the things that I really can’t do without and make everything work seamlessly 🙂