Oh 2017, you will be forever remembered as a favorite year of mine. This year we moved 3 times, took over a church, started my new business, shot 28 weddings and 19 engagement sessions, not to mention all while raising 2 little people. The theme for this past year was “growth” hands down. About halfway through the year I had a complete “workflow” makeover because in all honesty if I didnt I was not going to be able to thrive in anything. So this post really should be called Everything that Made My Life Easier (and then some favorites.) Its going to be a long one, but trust me you’re going to want to take some notes!
If I’m going to be talking about workflow hacks (which I am) then I would be simply remiss not to talk about the biggest hack of all:
1. Wake up Earlier
I like many people would stay up late to do my work (what is it about photographers as a people that we LOVE to be up at 3am editing?) Through a series of interesting events I realized that the old mantra of “I need more hours in the day” was something I could make happen if I woke up at 5am. Now I wake up at 5, do all my reading, praying, and a solid 2 hours of work…before my kids are even awake. I could do a whole blog post on the science of how your brain works better in the morning, or how your children can benefit from having your undivided attention at breakfast, and how CEOs all are waking up before the sun but I won’t. Just try it!
2. Trello, and Planners
When I was in middleschool my favorite thing ever was getting our agendas, I loved the smooth unmarked paper and that feeling of a blank slate to organize my complicated life. As an adult I still love the feeling of a new planner but for entirely different reasons…this time its for survival. I am currently using Inkwell Press planners. I love that fact that it has vision boards and goal setting pages. In the back there are budgeting tools and meal planning worksheets (all of which are processes that have changed my life).
Trello is the best. thing. ever. Ok let me explain, I have a physical planner and that contains my calendar and general to-do lists but Trello is an app (available for desktop as well) that breaks your life into boards and allows you to get into the details of planning your general to-dos. For example, I have a Trello “board” for this business. In my planner I will have written “blog by Wednesday.” When I open Trello I go to my NLP board, open up my blog card, and scroll through my blog ideas. Under each idea I can have a further card detailing specific information that I need to research in order to do that blog. I can slap due dates on things and when I’m done and move it over to my “accomplished section” (because who doesnt like looking at an empty to do list)? Trello also can sync with my husband’s account, So when im in our church board and write a card out in the “to-do for church” board it notifies my husband and we are on the same page. There are countless options and ways to customize. Go to https://trello.com/ and give it a try!
Meal planning and budgeting go in with this topic, When you work from home like I do you need to guarantee some time to actually do some work. Meal planning and budgeting have allowed me some guaranteed time because I no longer have to stand in my kitchen for a half hour waiting for a meal idea to pop into my head!
Ok, as the subtitle states this is NOT my area of expertise. If it wasnt for my bestie Kayla, and my sister Lauren, I would look like a gargoyle on a regular basis. I do however have a few tips that have allowed me to feel a little more put together,
1. Use hair masks! And face masks, and hand masks – all the masks! I currently use a Matrix Hydrasource Biolage hair mask that runs about $14 for 5oz. Super expensive, but super worth it. We live in the age of curling wands and pinterest tutorials that do a TON of damage to our hair so allowing your hair time to recover is essential. Face masks just make me feel glamorous by Fergi! My favorite line is Formula 10.0.6, they have a huge line of $7 masks that have changed my face!
2. Now I warn you this is a ridiculous one, but before you think I’ve lost it let me tell you…it works!
SO ridiculous right? Ok I have CRAZY naturally curly hair, not the good type. It legitimately scares my child. I have been blowing out my hair for YEARS and most people dont even know my hair is naturally curly. I discovered this contraption like 2 months ago looking for hair masks in Sallys. You put your hair in rollers and put this thing on your head and it “drys” your hair! It’s SO much better than direct hard heat, but the REAL plus side is I put my hair in rollers and I sit and edit while its doing its thang. I’m actually using it right now as I type this blog post, so it’s a REAL time saver! Also my hair comes out softer and way shinier than when I did it manually with a brush. This one is by Curlformers. It’s called a “softhood” and a bunch of other companies make it, but I have an emotional attachment to this brand because its my first.
3. Clothing shopping on Amazon
This is nothing new BUT I have been getting a lot of my clothing from Amazon. No more “gee I need a white T-shirt” trip to the mall where I actually spend $80 on hiking boots, a Parka, and no white T-shirt! When I shop on Amazon I search for the white shirt, buy it, and get back to work. Time saver, money saver, and headache saver. So its good in my book!
My favorite topic ever…you guys know im a wedding photographer right? Lets jusmp right in…
1.MagMod If you havent heard of the Magmod diffusing kit you are seriously missing out. This was my first year using OCF, and the thought of, not only figuring out the flashes and stands and what not, but THEN having to figure out all these diffusers, made me want to throw in the towel.
For the sake of the length of this blog post I am not going to explain OCF, Feel free to message me about any questions but im going to keep it moving. I used to use a Gary Fong diffuser and I did like it a lot but the Magmod system is SO easy, SO quiet, SO compact, and SO effective that it’s hard to say no. To purchase the full kit for two flashes it’ll run you about $400 and this kit does not take place of a softbox, BUT for a fast paced wedding day its perfect!
In an exciting turn of events the Canon 24-70ii is actually NOT my favorite lense. That spot is reserved by the 85 1.2, BUT this lense is on my camera 40% of the wedding day. Why? Because it is so fast, so sharp, versatile while not lacking in quality, and quite honestly lighter than my other lenses. 80% of my reception images are shot with this bad boy and even though that creamy bokeh of the 85 isnt there it still is stinking fantastic, so it makes the cut.
I am a self taught weddingphotographer. I learned in the streets (not really but it’s more dramatic that way)! I have a handful of photographers I follow who are simply the best educatores out there and sometimes they do free webinars. Some of my favorite are Katelyn James, Jordan and Amy Demos, Zach and Jody Gray – and there are a ton more out there. I also listen to podcasts on a regular basis. The Boss Mom, Six figure photography, and Dave Ramsey are all favorites.
4. Planoly and Facebook scheduling
So, I spent a lot of time this year learning all about the “peak times” to post on social media and I very quickly learned that its the WORST time of day for me. It just aint happenin’. Planoly is an app that allows you to pre type out your instagram posts hashtags and all and just send a notification when its time to post. All I need to do is hit “post” when it comes through my phone and BOOM posted. Facebook also has a scheduling feature that completely posts your posts on its own. So in the morning I wake up and think out my posts, set them up, and then schedule them to go out at the peak times. It’s the best of both worlds! I can take advantage of getting that peak time exposure while pushing my kid on a swing. Does it get better?
5. Yeti Coffee Tumblers
Ok, so imagine a world where you’re a lets say…wedding photographer. You get your coffee in the morning and head to your wedding, after the first section of prep and when your headed to the ceremony you would KILL for another cuppa joe but alas…theres no time. You look at your sad bargain brand tumbler holding 3/4 of cold coffee from that morning and die a little inside. OR you look down at your Yeti, pick up and your coffee and it’s somehow STILL HOT. What is this witchcraft? I dont know, but I will glady spend $20 more on something that actually works.
6. Outsourcing Album Design
I just started offering albums this year. No matter what type of business you run, there is aways something that can be outsourced. I chose my albums. I am a solo-prenuer meaning I run the whole show here which leaves me a trello list a mile long in the beginning of the week. Offering albums was something I desperately wanted to do but just did not have the time to sit down and design an album. So, I outsourced it and its not even that expensive. Moral of the story: working moms of the world, what can you take off of your plate? Is it laundry or housekeeping? See about having somone come in once a week and do a clean sweep. Is it purging your inbox? There are companies that pay people like 10 bucks an hour to organize your inbox content and send you the condensed list in order of importance, I could go on but look for those things that other people could be doing so you could be doing more of what you love.
I hope that some of the things in this post peaked your interest. Many of them changed my life. If you have any specific questions feel free to email me and I would be more than happy to answer! Also, enjoy my ultimate favorite thing, my fabulous little family!