Monday, December 1, 2014

Work Life Balance for Photographers :: Give yourself a weekend every week ... What a concept!

Have you ever stayed up ALL NIGHT long rebranding your website?
Ever said "I'll be right there, honey!" And then two hours later you finally finish editing that shoot and you're way too late for dinner?
Or how about looking down at your calendar and realizing that you haven't taken a day off all month and you literally just worked a 28 straight day shift?

Welcome to the world of the self-employed small business owning photographer!
You are not alone! But you are about to burn out!

About a year ago I started taking the whole work-life balance thing really seriously. About 8 months ago I started doing something REALLY crazy....taking a weekend....every week! What? Yes. Two days, back-to-back, every single week. What a rebel!

Photographers are always impressed when I tell them about my weekend. They look at me like I just said I travel to the moon and back every week. I get it. Taking two full days off from your beautiful little business is tough! It's like mommies that miss their kids after they've only been apart for an hour. Your business is your baby. This is normal. But the thing to remember since that mama needs some 'me time'!

Here's the trick...
Schedule your weekends ahead of time. Why ahead of time. Book your weekends on the calendar at least two months in advance. Everything else gets scheduled around these weekends. Your weekends can shift foreword or back a day or two - we have to be flexible BUT never remove your weekend completely.

It's important to take two days off back to back. On day one you will probably think about work ALL FREAKIN DAY. Resist. My best advice is to get as far away from your house and office as possible. Go hiking or boating or skydiving! Force your mind to forget about it. #distraction If you hold out and make it to day two, something magical happens. You actually enjoy relaxing and you dont want to go back to work the next day. This is a good sign. It means you're getting the rest you need. Step three...force yourself to go back to work the next morning and discover the next layer of magic jelly're full of energy and excited about all the work you can get done with your clear mind and belly full of fire!!

Taking weekends has changed my entrepreneur work life. Seriously. I have so much more energy for life and enthusiasm for my work. I'm WAY more efficient and I'm actually doing OTHER things in my life now that have nothing to do with photography in the most wonderful way. Lol

Go live your LIFE!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

{Grateful on Sunday} Thanksgiving, Bday Treats and Gold Sunshine

i woke up on this beautiful 26th birthday of mine to my husband creeping into our bedroom carrying a starbucks red cup filled with gingerbread latte! i seriously LOVE it when he wakes up before me (and brings me treats in bed) haha. so that was a great start to a thankful weekend. every 7 years my birthday falls on thanksgiving which means i get to eat pumpkin pie AND carrot cake (my fav). im a lucky girl. its not sunday but i shall celebrate my gratitude early in honor of this wonderful double holiday. today i am grateful for....

colorful leaves
late night dates w/ miggy getting starbucks and walking in the valley

when the sunshine makes the leaves look golden

cozy pillows

when the sun turns the clouds golden

improving my crow pose

discovering an awesome view of seattle

funky packaging

 my cat who loves hiding in the cupboards

waking up to sunshine

when miggy surprises me with flowers

cold blue sky days

firey sunrises

beautiful baked goods


waking up to a surprise gingerbread latte on my birthday by my earlybird husband

gorgeous morning sunlight

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!
xoxo Love, 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Speeding Up Your Photography Post-Processing Workflow (Importing, Backup and Image Management)

My stomach sank. The timer on my phone was way over two hours. How had I wasted this much time in Lightroom? My to-do list was overflowing and I was using up all my precious time just trying to decide which pictures to give my clients. 

About a year ago, I finally started absorbing the concept that time is money - especially when you are running a photography business and you have 10 photo shoots waiting in line to be edited or you have 100 emails to answer or you have 5 new marketing books to read. If you're just getting started and your inbox is empty, you probably feel like you have all the time in the world to play around with photos but if you want your business to grow, you have to start redirecting your energy away from technical tasks and towards the business side of things. If nothing else, getting your work done faster means you have more time to go rock-climbing and make-out with your husband. ;)

Speeding up your post-processing workflow is an essential step in running a profitable photography business. I

Card Management Oh crap! You're standing in a field staring down at the back of your camera. The little picture staring back up at you looks familiar. It was the family you photographed last night. Now here you are at another shoot, you've used up all your CF cards and this is the extra on you brought along "just in case". Problem don't feel 100% confident that this card has been uploaded & backed-up. If you don't format it, you have to tell tonight's clients that their photo shoot is ending early. If you do format it, you might have to tell last night's clients you accidentally deleted their photos. Crappidy crap crap.

Ever been there? I have. Too many times. So I was forced to find a glorious little solution that gives me peace of mind. I went to Pier 1 and spent $7 on 7 glass votive vases. I went to Benjamin Franklin Crafts and spent $4.99 on a sheet of chalkboard stickers and $3.99 on a bistro chalkboard pen. I went to Amazon and bought a CF memory card purse. A few Pinterest-worthy moments later and now I have a lovely little Card Management system! Here's how it works.

I write my client's name on the chalkboard label and drop the CF cards from their shoot into the vase.
Once I've backed-up, edited and released the images to that client, I remove the cards from the client's vase and move them into the 'To Be Formatted' vase. If I have my camera on hand, I might even format the card right then and there and then I'll drop the card into the 'Formated' vase.

Before I leave for a photo shoot, I grab the cards from the 'Formatted' vase and put them into my memory card wallet. Inside the wallet, there is an entirely different & wonderful system. When the card is formatted, the color side faces out. Once I've used the card, I turn it around so the white side (back side - where you can write your name) is facing out. This makes it easy for me to know at a quick glance mid-photo shoot which cards are available.

Data Management (File Organization)
Backup System
One of the most sickening feelings I've ever felt. It was like a hollow punch to my stomach as I heard the hard drive whirling around and beeping. It's dead and all my files are gone. It's our modern nightmare, this ability to loose all of our hardwork just by dropping a little metal box. Grrrrrrr..... I live in constant fear of this reality. It's taken me three years and 5 broken hard drives to develop a backup system that actually works for me. Because I love ya, I'm sharing it with you now to save you some pain & suffering. Enjoy!

Rule #1: Keep Track & Make It Easy.I am a Google Drive Spreadsheet junkie. So surprise backup system revolves around a beautiful little spreadsheet. First important step, this spreadsheet has to be easy to access or you'll forget about it and give up. I have mine linked on the Bookmarks Bar of my browser. I update the spreadsheet every day to keep track of where all my files are. If it's not on a spreadsheet I won't be confident and I'll be constantly plugging in hard drives to double-check that the files are all there. I panic before I delete anything. With the spreadsheet I can actually sleep at night ;) Also, it's important to make your hard drives easy to use or guess won't use them (enough). Keep them out on the desktop so all you have to do is grab the USB cord. If they are tucked away in a black-hole in the back of your closet, good luck finding the motivation to dig that out every week. No wonder your files aren't backed-up regularly.

Rule #2: Three Places at All Times.
Make sure your precious digital images are stored in 3 separate places at all times. After a photo shoot, the photos are only in 1 place - your CF cards. Danger zone! Rush home ASAP to get them uploaded. I know husband/wife photography teams that drive separately to weddings so they keep their two sets of CF cards separate (just in case one of them gets into a car crash). Once home, I upload my images to two hard drives (HD-A & HD-B) and I drop my cards into their *glass vase.* Now they are in 3 places. Once the images are edited and uploaded to my online storage gallery, I can delete them from the CF cards.

Rule #3: Multiple Locations Your photos should be in 3 places at all times BUT those 3 places need to be separate. It's no good having 3 hard drives side by side on your desk. What if your desk got bumped and they all fell off the edge? Bye-bye photos. While I'm working on photos, I store them on one stationary hard drive, one portable hard drive, and my CF cards. After I'm finished with a shoot, I store images on one stationary hard drive at my house, one stationary hard drive at my grandma's house, and in the cloud in an online gallery (this is the same gallery where my clients view their images). At the moment, I'm also experimenting with adding a 4th location - good ol' fashion CDs. I'm saving each shoot to a CD and then storing the CDs in a CD binder that lives in my office closet. Ain't nothin' wrong with extra backup!

Rule #4: Stay Regular News flash, backing up files is not fun. It's time consuming, boring and sometimes stressful. You're never going to 'feel like it' so it's way too easy to procrastinate and then BOOM! your harddrive breaks and you realize you haven't backed up anything in 2 months. Not cool. So, I backup everything every two weeks - on the 1st and 15th of each month. These are my power days where I do everything from payroll to bookkeeping to logging miles and backing up files. I'm committed to the fact that I have to spend two days each month keeping things organized. I've spend years living in business choas and now I know that these two days each month is totally worth the sacrifice. Having these set days for tough business chores (in this case, backing up files) is my secret ingredient to photography business success.
Rule #5: Use Labels Save yourself the mental energy and stick labels on all your hard drives. This makes it easy to know which hard drive you are using and which one you're talking about. For business, I always have three hard drives in active-duty. As mentioned in Rule #3, two of these are big stationary hard drives in two separate locations and one of these is a smaller portable hard drives that travels around with me. Since I work at home, I upload the photos directly to HD-A (portable) & HD-B (at my home). Once I'm finished with a shoot, I take HD-A (portable) on a road-trip to grandma's house to transfer the completed folder of images from HD-A (portable) to HD-C (at grandma's house). Once the images are on both HD-B (at my house) and HD-C (at granny's house) AND I've uploaded to them to the online gallery, then I delete them from HD-A (portable). I delete them from HD-A because HD-A is a portable hard drive that I use as a transportation device. The big hard drives are the apartment buildings where the images live. The portable hard drive is their public bus transport. When the apartment buildings (aka hard drives) become full, they are retired to live safely on a padded shelf in two separate closets and they are replaced by two new big hard drives. The portable HD-A just keeps chuggin' along until one day when it will inevitably die and beeping death.

HD - A 1TB Lacie (Portable Hard drive)
HD - B 3TB Western Digital My Book Studio for Mac (Stationary hard drive at my home office)
HD - C 3TB Western Digital My Book Studio for Mac (Stationary hard drive at my grandma's house)

Image Management
Struggling to remember if you already released those pictures to your client? Wondering if you already shared those pictures on Facebook? Wonder no more!! We use Trello to keep track of our post-production. If you haven't used Trello before, you must start now! It's amazeballs!! It's a lifechanger. I heard about it from Entrepreneur on Fire and I've converted all of my friends! Seriously cool stuff!

So once you have your Trello account set up, you need to create a board called "Image Management" or "Post Processing" or whatever floats your boat. Then you create a list for every stage in your post - processing system.

These are our lists:
Import & BackUp
Photo Editing
Video Editing
Time Log

When we get home from a shoot, we copy a template card from the template list. We rename this new slide to our client's name and we relocate it to the 'Import & Backup' list. Once the images are imported to our hard drives, backed-up, and imported to Lightroom, we move the client's card to the 'Photo Editing' list. So on and so forth. You could also use a spreadsheet to keep track of this data BUT a spreadsheet has it's limitations. It will only let you see the big steps in the process. It won't let you include the million little steps. Well, technically, you could include those in your spreadsheet but that would be 75 columns wide and way too overwhelming (trust me, I've tried it). So thank you Trello!!

When we click on a card, it opens up a checklist. We put all of the little baby steps in the checklist. For example, when the card in on the 'Photo Editing' list, we will be using the check list to go through the following steps: "Culling" / "Retouching" / "Editing" / "Exporting" etc... If the card was on the 'Release' list, we would be working our way through the checklist that has little tasks like: "Upload Gallery" / "Release Gallery to Client" / "Share Photos on Facebook" / "Make a Slideshow for Client" etc...

This system make it possible for us to log-in at any time and see exactly what has been done for every client. We know what stage of the post-processing system they are at and what little steps need to be completed before they can move on to the next stage. It's fantastic. This system also makes it easy for you to share tasks with multiple people. Fab! Try it out and let me know if you like it! :)


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Embrace Adventure and Be a Yes!

One year ago today Miggy and I moved to Hawaii to live the dream. We set off to try something new and exciting and totally different than our rainy homelands of Seattle and Scotland. Like everywhere I'm sure, life in Hawaii is was different than vacation in Hawaii. We arrived on the island with a rather stressful to-do list: buy a car, find a house, get Miggy a job, make friends, figure out where to buy good food and heaven forbid, get to know a doctor that can be our on-call in the event of a shark attack. 

It's incredible to believe that we were there for only 6 months because it felt like years. We've been back in Seattle now for 6 months and the time has flown by. I'm so happy to be back and finally Miggy is able to make some great progress with his life. He has a potential interview with a psychology department at the university to do some volunteer research and he has health insurance now so finally after a long time coming he is able to start getting his shoulder healed. He had his MRI this afternoon and I can't wait to see what the results are. 

Now that we've been back in seatown for a while, we're both tarting to feel the itch to move on to the next great adventure. I keep myself entertained with business adventures and weekend hiking trios. We've been chatting about bigger adventure though and I think about them every day. Traveling the world, being part of an exploration team, starting a little retreat center somewhere in the wild. 

I wonder what my next great adventure will be. I wonder if I'll recognize it when the invitation arrives and I wonder if I'll adventure the guts to say yes. Saying yes can mean uprooting but saying yes can also mean the quality if my life can sore to supercalifragilisticexpialidous levels. #beayes